Construction Literary Magazine

Fall 2019

Pop a String and Smell the Sweat

Pop a String and Smell the Sweat

Nicholas Cirillo

It was 1994 and I was 14 years-old watching MTV in my mother and father’s house. Eddie Vedder was scaling the wall of a venue, and the crowd was packed like corn. They fed off one another and Eddie dove into them and the chorus of “Even Flow” took over. I discovered something, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. A time when my legs hurt at night from growing, when my palms started getting sweaty around girls, when I knew, “I have to make this decision on my own today.” That music, that album, fueled me.

I moved to Brooklyn in the winter of 2003. The indie music scene was everywhere, exploding all around me: new venues, new bands, offshoots of old bands. The Libertines, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the Arctic Monkeys, The Strokes, The Strokes, The Strokes!!! It seemed to go on and on. Every night there was something popping off somewhere that I felt I could not miss. 2003 became 2004. New bands, new albums. The Walkmen, Bow and Arrows, Animal Collective, and Devendra Banhart. 2005, LCD Soundsystem; 2006, Frightened Rabbit; 2007, Panda Bear; 2008, MGMT; 2009, Harlem; 2010, Julian Lynch; and now, here we are, in 2011. Gaggles of new bands sprouting up like beans every time you turn a corner.

Even though it’s easy to download a song off of a website or cop a CD from a friend, you gotta ask yourself, “Is there really anything better then being there?” Seeing the band pop a string, smelling the sweat in the crowd, stumbling yourself home and humming the last song you heard. Watching a band like Pearl Jam is its own experience—it can be great, but it can also be impersonal. When you’re standing there amongst fifty thousand people, you can’t help but feel a bit cheated. Eddie, forgive me, but Pearl Jam has been paid, and they have bled all they’re going to bleed, and now there’s another generation of indies out there—a generation that can taste the victory, that puts it all out there every single time.

Even though I stopped having time for Pearl Jam, it never made me sad. I always look back to them and smile and pop a cocky look on my face when someone’s telling me about their new album, a look that only I know, and it means: That was mine first. Artists make music for you to own. It’s ours to make memories, break hearts, fall down, and get back up. My motivation to be surrounded by music has grown over the years, and I’ve been fortunate enough to discover some pretty righteous bands and plan on continuing this melodic journey that I can only hope is never-ending. Join me down this road as I cover the newest of albums and the most epic of shows and everything in between.