When Elder played in Stockholm a little over a year ago, I was somewhere in the country, pouting. The memory flees me, but most likely I attended school some 500 kilometers north of where I live, and 700 kilometers north of where the gig took place. I mean, I’m up for train-related challenges sometimes but the logistics of the whole affair made it far more difficult, if not impossible, to fuse the gig and the mandatory lectures into a successful scheme that would have been worth the money and effort spent. I missed out that time.
So when they announced they were returning to the exact same place (a place often used for alternative music aptly called ”The Slaughter Church”) a year later, I was all over that feeding hand like a hungry, angry chihuahua with no boundaries. Dork, the biggest lover of Elder that I keep in close quarters, and I searched for other participants but failed to find any. We booked two tickets for ourselves and that was that.
When the fair Wednesday came along, Dork picked me up. Both of us tired, beat and sort of not really regretting our decision but already imagining the suffering that would ensue the day after the gig, we set out for Stockholm. When one reaches the sweet age of 30+, one's old-time crazy schedules of doing whatever one wants to do in spite of having to get up early the next day has been exchanged for a softer, more pliable lifestyle that adjusts to how much, or little, energy one has. This said, planning for months to come home at 1.30 AM on a Wednesday night before starting work at 8 AM the next day, is a high baller shot collar-sort of situation. It all lends to the whole ordeal to only take place when it’s absolutely, definitely, assuredly, worth it.
And Elder is absolutely, definitely, assuredly, worth it.
The hipsters though?
Sitting through and low-key enjoying the supporting acts Dun Ringill and Vokonis, something had been nestling itself into my brain. I looked around. Suddenly I saw it so clearly that I didn’t understand how I could have missed it the previous hours. The audience consisted of hipsters. All kinds of them. Being a metalhead, I mostly attend gigs that have a large gathering of black-clothed, Converse-sporting merch-wearing and sometimes patched-vest-adorned dudes with a tendency to use the devil’s horns too often. This time, it was different. Dudes wearing backpacks, folded-up chinos, white T-shirts with vivid print and hats loitered and sipped on beers, pulling their noisily patterned socks up so they would show above the lining of their shoes. I nudged Dork.
”Aren’t there a LOT of hipsters here?”
"I’ve thought about that too.”
Then it hit me.
”… Are metalheads morphing into hipsters as they grow older??”
Dork looked at me.
We silently watched the hipsters mingle around under the high, white vaults. Their straw hats lit from above by the skylight, their fashionable wooden wristwatches sparkling as the red stage lights swooped past the crowd. I couldn’t make light of all this because it was almost time for Elder to walk on stage, but I am not done with my inquiries. It’s a mystery for another time.
Before the gig started, I had to use the bathroom. I ended up in line behind a couple, closely resembling the two founding, and only, members of the Gender Equality Society in New Girl, aka a dorky Jessica Day and a dorky dude, both being a lot closer to prom night age than my own crypt keeper stance in life. Also hipsters. I don’t want to judge characters based off of appearances, but I wasn’t surprised later on when they didn’t last the entire gig and retreated to a sitting-really-close-to-each-other-holding-hands-position in the back of the room instead. Ah, young love. At least they didn’t make out right in front of me the entire show like that equally young couple did on the Nightwish gig on Metaltown 2008. #canneverforgetthesoundsofslobberingteens
Another high point apart from the performance of the band that I clearly digress from, was the bouncy dude holding a pint, happily skipping nearer the stage through the crowd while expertly avoiding bumping into anyone like the ex-leper in Life of Brian.
On to the frickin’ point
The band got on stage and after a short hello, we were lulled into their psychedelic stoner rock with progressive tendencies. Accompanied by a colourful, psychedelic pulsing background screening that fit the songs perfectly, I, sober, experienced the closest I’ve been to a drug-induced cartoon montage of how it feels to lift off of the ground and be carried into an alternate realm with random stuff like cans of beans or grandma flying past. The mood and lowered speed of their music really resonates with me and creates a calming, healing atmosphere for this always cluttered brain to rest in, guitars luring me to follow their every whim*. With the bright lights, the not so crowded room we were in (meaning no one’s bumping into me) and the music created a 107 minute long therapy session with time flying right by like it was that hint of sunshine on an otherwise rainy day. I got to hear two of my favourite songs from their second last album, the masterpiece called Reflections of a Floating World. I broke out of my spell a little just to sing along to Sanctuary, silently wording ”station wagon” to myself because it's funnier and it sort of sounds like that’s what he’s saying.
Nearing midnight after the gig and the mandatory encore, we strolled out into the comfortable May evening after Dork got some merch and their new record on vinyl, and got in the car for the almost two-hour long drive home.
*I’m not a music reviewer, can you tell?
Cue a scrappy clip that does the band no justice