Poignant albums serve as markers in life, a Post-It note if you will about what events, people, and experiences were like at certain stages. If you think about it, life is long; so much can happen in between the time you are a kid up until your golden days in retirement.
For me, my freshman year in college in 2002 marked a birth, a new start in my academic and personal life. I'd moved away from home to my current one of San Francisco, and music undoubtedly had an influence on that as well as provided the soundtrack. Interpol's Turn On The Bright Lights and Placebo's Sleeping With Ghosts were some of the albums that came out that year, and I have such fond memories of cranking those albums up in my dorm room on campus, violating quiet hours.
Kenna's New Sacred Cow was also one of those albums I associate with that year of growth. It was one of my first exposures to electronic-based music, and I remember dancing to "Freetime" at one of my first off-campus parties, the bass-like synth emanating throughout these oak hardwood floors while I clutched a beer in my underage fingers.
But for whatever reason, I never got a chance to see Kenna perform until last night, five whole years later. Touring was never in my area, or I simply missed him; but last night's Fillmore show fulfilled my half-decade quest to see the East Coast native.
Initially, though, I was worried about it - I heard new material off Make Sure They See My Face was more rock-oriented, not the club-like jams and dance anthems I was familiar with. Needless to say, all what I heard off MSTSMF was even better than I expected, especially live, which is a critical way for artists to tell their stories. Backed by a live band, Kenna bounced around on stage, songs like "Say Goodbye To Love" bordering on an R&B kick but still employing that infectious hook and drumbeat. "Face The Gun" honored the electronic component I was so desperate to hang on to, the subtle synth keys serving as a great compliment to the guitars. There is a great sense of growth Kenna has taken in the gap where I obsessed to this night at the Fillmore, finally seeing him - a full band has granted him the permission to not only branch out but also experiment with beats. To my disappointment, no songs off New Sacred Cow were performed, but I was okay with that - maybe it was good such an important album to me to be is left alone, to be revered on its own accord.
While headlining band She Wants Revenge took stage, a friend and I stood in line in the lobby to get our stuff signed by the man I'd waited to see for so long. When we finally reached the table, I couldn't help but blurt out everything I just wrote above; the wait, the despair I experienced as an 18 year-old discovering music for the first time. Kenna laughed after he introduced himself, obviously not expecting my word vomit, but saying that the process to be standing in front of us was a long one. "I'm going to tour next year, headling even!" he said as he inked a copy of New Sacred Cow for me. He said there were even plans for a new album in the fall of next year, having written much of the material already. After chatting for a few more minutes, we settled in to watch She Wants Revenge try to be original and ate apples.
My first copy of New Sacred Cow is a burned version someone down my college dorm hall gave to my roommate freshman year. It came full circle to have the rightful copy now in my collection last night. And signed to boot.