The only thing weirder than a love song is a breakup song.
Whether we like to admit it or not, both love and post-breakup hate are, in the vast majority of cases, temporary states. Relationships (usually) fail, those wounds (usually) heal, and then, we (usually) move on and try again with someone else. But these songs, written to encapsulate now-gone emotions, remain, and sometimes even endure and thrive. So many artists’ most popular songs are of one of these two categories, sometimes peppered throughout with specific references, and yet, we expect bands to keep taking the stage and performing them, year after year.
How selfish is it to be disappointed when they don’t?
Until Thursday, the last time I’d seen Aqueduct, it was only a glimpse.
New Year’s Eve 2010, I wound up at the Croc with a friend and her then-guy to see Aqueduct and Fresh Espresso open for U.S.E. I was excited for all three bands, but the guy apparently hated Aqueduct, and we spent the hour they were on stage hopping amongst other bars on the block.
The evening only got weirder from there, largely because he was a strange person, the kind of man who leaves a New Year’s party at 11:45 to catch a ride to one he perceives as better. When he disappeared, we thought he had gone to get a fresh drink; it wasn’t until 12:10, when he texted to suggest we join him at a bar two neighborhoods away, that we realized he had left entirely.
Less than an hour into the new year, we’d already left a show, gone to a bar, and crashed a house party, a small taste of the frantic year to come.
All that meant that it had been more than six years since I’d last seen Aqueduct, a band that I thought had gone away until they Kickstartered a new album last year following an eight-year layoff. David Terry looked the same as ever, and sounded the same as ever, and everyone there seemed to be having just as good a time as the audience did the first time I’d seen that band, at the old Croc, forever ago.
But as the set list played out, I realized my knowledge of the band had atrophied, and that I couldn’t tell the deeper cuts from his older albums apart from tracks off the newest one, which I’ve barely listened to. Standing against the stage, I watched the faces of a pack of women opposite me, singing along to every word, and wondering which songs, if any, I remembered that well.
Throughout the night, I waited for “Living a Lie,” my favorite track off Or Give Me Death, the band’s brutal 2007 album that wrapped Terry’s post-divorce angst in an electro-pop disguise, and then threw people off the scent with a Princess Bride song. But “Living a Lie” never came, and the pickings from that album were sparse overall.
It’s been years, and while the band sounds the same, the feelings have changed. Great music requires authenticity, and I guess Terry’s no longer living that old lie.