I actually just posted the flyer for this show in my big day of retro scanning on Sunday, but since it’s April 3, and I’ve been meaning to kick “Music from my past” back into high gear, it’s impossible not to mention the Galaxie 500 and Cocteau Twins show at my college, Boston University, on this day 22 years ago.
Weirdly, Galaxie 500 were one of the reasons I moved to Boston. “That town has Pixies, and Galaxie 500” my logic went. “It must be a good town.” I didn’t really know anything about the Boston music scene otherwise, but I figured that any town that spawned both of those bands had to be all right. And since Stanford had rejected me, I was pretty sure Boston was going to be where it was at. I’d gotten into several colleges there, and figured Galaxie 500 was reason enough to head there. That and it was as far away from Alaska as any college I had considered going to save for maybe UVA, but that was an architecture scholarship, and by that point I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to be an architect. This lead to many awkward discussions with UVA and University of Chicago. It’s weird. I wanted so badly to be an architect. I forget about it now, but at one point, I was one of those people, those children, who actually knew what they wanted to do. It went away before I ever went down that path, mainly owing to a career advisor at the University of Chicago telling me what a miserable existence most architects lead, and how little money they made. The odds of me being Frank Gehry or Richard Meier (god I was obsessed with him) were slim. On top of that, five years of school? No thanks.
So Boston it was. The choice of Boston University was a bit more reckless, mainly financially driven and credit given. I had other options, but not other options I could afford. The cost of living differential to Alaska in the 80’s was huge. It was an expensive place to live, and people did not compensate for it. My mother was a teacher, my father a fire man. They made good money on paper, and they saved, but it was nothing enough to afford even “need blind” admission. BU, on the other hand, rolled out the red carpet. 3 full semesters of AP credit, and $10,000 a year grants. It was hard to say no.
Especially with Galaxie 500 nearby.
The thing is, though, for the entire first year I was there, they barely played Boston at all - they were on tour for “On Fire” much of the time, and when they did come to town, it was 21+.
So, nine months after my arrival in Boston, it was magically lucky that not only did Galaxie 500 decide to do an all ages show, but they decided to do it AT MY SCHOOL, and with the COCTEAU TWINS. I would have been ridiculously excited for the Cocteau Twins, too, and I was, though they had already come through town on the Heaven or Las Vegas tour, playing at the Orpheum with Mazzy Star (which was AWESOME).
I was dating a girl at the time of the show, but she didn’t come. I don’t remember why. So I went with a guy friend. And I did an awful thing. I hooked up with this girl at the show, during “Tugboat.” We were both so excited, and we were singing along, and we caught each other’s eye, and, it all just happened. I was young, didn’t have a handle on sexuality or relationships. I knew it was wrong, and I wrote about it in my journal. My girlfriend read my journal. It was a big mess, my second big, bad breakup in my life. But this time it was completely, unavoidably my fault. That was the first time I felt that feeling as an adult - everything is wrong, everything is fucked up, and though you desperately want to rail against circumstance or society, you know full well it’s actually your fault. And you find the presence of mind to think “okay, stop. look at this, feel this. You did this. You don’t like feeling this way. You did this.” It was a small step on my journey to growing up. Did it magically change me? God no, but it made me change course a little bit.
It turned out to be Galaxie 500’s last show in Boston ever. According to the liner notes in their box set, I learned that they went up to Maine or New Hampshire the next night (I can’t remember which) and played their last show. I am so grateful that I got to see them before they finished up.
Back then, I could pretty much remember every day of my life since I was 13. I could tell you exactly what I was doing on that date. Two years later, I was dating a girl who was born on April 3. The day held special significance for me, and for years, I would mark its passing for all of these reasons. Now, I do still notice, some years, when it’s April 3, and mostly I think of listening to Tugboat, on the ice of the Walter Brown Arena, just feet away from the stage, caught up in young emotions, with that girl who I never saw again.
Happy April 3!