Setting: Vancouver’s Commodore Ballroom
Act I: 54-40
(A whole room full of drunken Canadians is jumping up and down in ecstasy, singing along with every word of every song. Within the crowd is a group of friends, most of whom know each other from their time at a local high school. Most members of the group are also enthusiastically dancing and singing, but two women standing near the back look somewhat less enthused).
Expat Brit #1: “Is it just me, or is this a terrible concert?”
Expat Brit #2 (The Blogger): “It’s not just you. The sound’s awful! I didn’t even know you could get bad sound at the Commodore!”
EB#1: “I KNOW! Have you recognised any songs yet?”
The Blogger: “I knew that “I go blind” one, because a cover version of it was on the Friends soundtrack”
EB#1: “Oh, is that where I know it from?!”
The Blogger: “Oh well, at least the real Canadians are having fun”
EB#1’s Canadian husband: “ISN’T THIS AWESOME??!!”
EPB#1 and The Blogger: “Oh, yeah.”
Act II: Gomez
(The venue is less full than in Act I, although many people are just as enthusiastic and almost as drunk. Within the crowd is a group of friends, most of whom know each other from their time at a local high school. Most members of the group are dancing a little bit, and singing along with a few of the songs. However, one woman dancing away at the front of the group is clearly much more enthused, and is singing her heart out to every song).
EPB#1’s Canadian husband: “I don’t know this one!”
The Blogger: “It’s from their first album! I remember dancing to this in the student union the year I graduated!”
EPB#1’s Canadian husband: “That’s nice. I’m going to the bar. Want anything?”
Act III: Franz Ferdinand
(The venue is packed. Within the crowd is a group of friends, most of whom know each other from their time at a local high school. All of them know the same songs, and are singing and dancing away. The sound is kinda shitty again, but this time no-one cares).
Everyone: “TAKE ME OUT! ULYSSES! YEAH! THIS IS AWESOME!”
These three concerts sum up the expat experience perfectly. Whether you’re talking about music, TV, other aspects of pop culture, politics, sport, history, or almost any other subject, you just don’t share the formative experiences, the foundational knowledge, of most of your friends…
…and they don’t share yours.
You stand absolutely no chance of winning a trivia quiz in either your native or your adopted country.
However, if you have the right group of friends, you get to mix and match and share your knowledge and experiences. Sometimes you’ll each think the other group members’ great musical or other loves from their past are super-lame… but sometimes you’ll enjoy yourself immensely as your friends relive their younger days, even if you don’t know all the words to all the songs.
And you get to form new, truly shared experiences. Like when a new band comes along, from any country, and you all get into them at the same time.
I still miss my old friends, and wonder what new experiences they’ve been sharing without me. We’ll always have
Paris the Newcastle student union Bassment club on a Friday night, though, to which the Commodore is superior in almost every way, especially the state of the loos.
They really do need to sort out their sound, though.
Next concert: ROXETTE! I am ridiculously excited.