Daniel's SSR Pick: May 26, 2022

I don’t have a staff pick this week, so instead I’m going to whine. Y’all are down for that, right? You may have noticed that, in the intros for the past two editions of the newsletter, I’ve written about heading off to Thursday evening gigs after I finish putting everything together. That’s been a weight on me lately. In fact, last Thursday I didn’t finish the newsletter before leaving for the Fried E/M gig in Chapel Hill. I worked on the newsletter until after 9PM, then left for Chapel Hill (about an hour from my house), arriving in time for DE()T’s last song and missing Bug-E.M.S. I was in an atrocious mood, berating myself for not being more on top of my work, and I tried to avoid talking to anyone at the gig so I could sulk. Apologies to the few brave souls who approached me that night and had to soak up my bad vibes. After the gig I got home and worked until about 3AM finishing things up. Rather than sending it out at that hour, I scheduled it for early Friday morning.

The next day Scarecrow was playing with Fried E/M in Virginia Beach, so I knew I’d see those folks again. I know playing out-of-town gigs can stress some people out, but right now Sorry State is so stressful that I love going out of town for gigs… I feel like I’m away from all of my stressors. The crew from Not for the Weak Records was putting on the gig and they did a great job. All the bands killed, and I felt good about Scarecrow’s set even though I seem to be having problems with my distortion pedal. Friend E/M was incredible, and I even moshed a little, the first time I’ve done that in several years. Every time I think I’m a retired mosher, a song as good as “Inner Peace” comes around that pulls me back in.

Martin and Gabe from Fried E/M are old friends, and I’m stoked they were down to hang out after the gig. The Scarecrow, NFTW, and Fried E/M crews went down to the Virginia Beach oceanfront and hung out on the water until 4:30 in the morning, chatting about life and punk and the things you talk about at a post-gig hang. I loved how Usman and Martin had some kind of magical rapport… you’d think they’d be oil and water, but they’re more like an odd couple comedy duo. I’d listen to that podcast.

Back in Sorry State land, things have been so busy that I feel like I’ve had no time for myself. When I’m feeling depressed, I find it hard to get up in the morning and I linger over my morning cup of coffee for way too long. This week I resolved to get out of bed and get to work more quickly, but I haven’t been leaving work any earlier or taking it any easier. So, what ends up happening is that I work 12+ hour days, arriving home dead-eyed. I’m not sure whether it’s depression, stress, or some combination of the two, but I’ve had trouble finding enjoyment in the things that usually move me this week, most importantly music.

The one thing that sparked my musical curiosity this week was vaporwave. I was sitting on the couch, looking at my phone, trying to find something interesting to think about when I stumbled on a video that explained all the different subgenres of vaporwave with samples of artists from each one. I’ve known the term vaporwave for many years, but I can’t recall listening to any of the music. Rachel once described it to me as the background music playing at K-Mart, and some of it sounds like that, but not all of it. The more interesting things I heard reminded me of something you’d hear at a spa or in the background of a corporate training video, but what seems to separate vaporwave from your typical background music is that it sounds a little bit fucked up. Most of the releases have cassette hiss, like they’re ripped from an old VHS tape, and some have little glitches added in like the recording has been damaged. This style of music is meant to evoke peace and calm, but with vaporwave there seems to be something sinister lurking in the background. It’s like the cheery background music for a training video made by an evil corporation.

I keep listening to releases mentioned in that video. It’s all I want to hear right now. Why? I find it nourishing in my current state of mind, but I can’t put my finger on why. It’s like when you’re sick and all you want to eat is plain bread or oatmeal… something bland and grey or off-white. I’m probably being dramatic, but hopefully this week I can get a little more rest and get back to recommending you some killer punk next week. But, then again, Scarecrow is playing with Absolut in Richmond next Thursday, so that might not be a realistic expectation.

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