Desire and obsession, the two driving forces deep in the heart of the fan, and the heart of the record collector. Together, these forces can bend light. These are unstoppable forces in nature, shaping lives and destinies. And the record business needs these forces more than ever, needs us, which is why I can say things like this about myself. You need me. I’m the ideal fan! I obsess, I want, and my wanting is how this whole fucking thing stared back in the day, the endless cycle of falling in love with new bands that leads to vinyl records, which leads to reckless spending, which leads to insanely large record collections, which leads to ticket sales to shows, which leads to wanton abandon. Forget gigantic arena shows. Those are done, or will be soon. Tickets to the Super Bowl each year don’t fund the entire football obsession in America. Nor do those ridiculous mega shows where 50,000 people sit in plastic seats and watch their concerts on jumbo TV screens, all for just $250 a seat. Fuck that! The life blood of the music industry today is the road, the infinity of small venues, and the intimacy of places like the Tractor Tavern in Ballard. This whole thing is about much more than selling booze. But you know that, don’t you?
In these small, teeming ancient meeting places bands must scale themselves, down. They must get close to us, their fans, and feel our love directly. The last time I saw The Helio Sequence was at The Neptune, in Seattle. It’s a far bigger venue than the Tractor. But at the Tractor there’s no hired meat to keep us back, keep us in our places. Helio is just two amazing dudes on stage, Brandon Summers and Benjamin Weikel. On the Neptune stage they did their thing with the elbow room of the Great Plains. At the Tractor they had a fraction of the stage space, but they had us. And new songs from a recently completed new record. And yet, there was more magic. The adoring crowd pressed in close, then got closer, reaching out for the band, wanting to touch them, to touch their sound. Desire, the root of all suffering, and yet, the source of all sweet, sweet longing. As their song says, it might be heavy on your heart, but it feels so good. All we need to do is just bend our will, bend the light, for one night only. The best music is intimate because it gets inside you, becomes part of you. We were built for desire. We were built for music. We are made for each other.
Text and photos copyright 2014 by John Ellison. All rights reserved.