the past comes back to haunt me

Let’s wander back into the mists of time and revisit May 1997 for a minute. A buoyant President Clinton had just begun his second term, expecting nothing but smooth sailing ahead. Compuserve email addresses were complicated strings of numbers and dots. And a young combo called the Spice Girls taught us that if we wanted to be their lover(s), we had to get with their friends.

One evening in that halcyon month, a group of Hoboken and NYC residents hopped in a rental car and headed north to Vassar to see the Receptionists play their last show. My roommate and I had made this trip once before; we practically idolized the Receptionists and tried never to miss a show in the tri-state area. My girlfriend – now my wife – was in the car, as was a friend who lived in Westchester. There was someone else, too: a lanky guy that I didn’t know. He barely said a word all night.

Openers the New Bad Things were nicely ramshackle. The Receptionists were wonderful. We dropped Mystery Dude somewhere near Columbia University, and made it home very late.

(cue the swirling effects, fast forward to the present)

Last night I went to see the Smittens play at the confusingly-named CBGB. I was early as I always am, and I spotted band members Dana and Max sitting at the bar. We began chatting, and after a few minutes Max said, “Wait a minute…your name sounds familiar. Are you from Missouri?” No, I said, I grew up in New Jersey and spent a bunch of time in NYC. “But did you know someone else from Missouri who used to run a label…?” You mean Tami? “Yeah! She gave me a ride to see the Receptionists play at Vassar once.”

Now, I enjoy a good twist of fate as much as anyone, but this was as random as it gets. When I told him I was actually in that car, hilarity ensued. Funny how small the indiepop world is, eh? You can get married, have kids, and move several times, and a decade later you’ll be at a show and coincidentally have a small world experience.

The Smittens were great, by the way. Totally fun and enthusiastic. Like stepping into an air-conditioned house after being in the August Missouri heat all day.

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