Years ago, I was on the Student Activities Program Board at the College of DuPage. I was in charge of booking bands and entertainment. This meant that I had a presence in the local music scene. It was awesome. I won’t lie about it. I was able to talk my way into shows without paying, was approached by local bands, given CDs and T-shirts. One time I even got to sit in the VIP section at the Metro in Chicago while on the coveted “guest list”. This was and is still considered to be one of the best times in my life.
My group of friends and I always had a show to go to. The Metro when we felt like paying $15+ to see Alkaline Trio or the like; the Fireside Bowl when that was still a thing and was always on the cheap, we were offended if it was more than $5. There was the Annex in Algonquin IL, which was in a church basement filled with couches, a foosball table, air hockey, and pool tables. That’s where we saw most of our ska shows. Backyard shows, other random church basements, VFWs, and the local scene’s biggest venue: the Wheaton Park District Building where we would see the big names in our local scene: Plain White Ts, Stale Chofli, the Pechanios, the Dog and Everything, and toward the end, the Scissors.
That was a time when Alkaline Trio were the hometown heroes of Wrigleyville and the Plain white Ts played louder and harder on stage than their records would have you believe, before Delilah was even a thought. I will admit that I really stopped listening to them after Delilah hit the airwaves. I knew them before they were big.
That brings me to a strange occurrence that happened after my son was born. My wife had just delivered him via cesarean and I was patiently waiting to be able to hold him in the nursery while he screamed away getting his initial exam stuff done with. When I finally got to hold him, he quieted down a little and I could hear that the nurses had a radio on. Right as he entered my arms the Plain White Ts came on with their song “1,2,3,4”. Super sweet and sappy. It was a ripple from my youth here to coincide with this monumental moment of adulthood: the birth of my second child.
I laughed to myself, told him,”hey kiddo, your dad used to be cool and knew these guys on the radio.” This is our song now and I get a little emotional every time I hear it. To be honest, I become full on emo and shed a single tear. Even stranger than that, they have been on Sesame Street and I get to tell my daughter that dad knew those Letter T muppets. Suddenly I am cool again. All because of a band I used to listen to and chat with at shows that I thought weren’t cool anymore when they got famous. The world is a strange, strange place.
recommended track list:
The Plain White Ts: Stop, 1,2,3,4, Sesame Street clip
Alkaline Trio: Stupid Kid
The Pechanios: anything you can find
Stale Chofli: same^
The Scissors: Riv Rat Rob