Doing It Together in 2015
by Adam Ward
When I write about music on Portals, I like to find underspoken, underrepresented musicians who make boundary-pushing art. Similarly here and across the internet, our peers praise and lift up music under the veil of DIY, but nothing we do is confidently done “yourself” anymore. Now, even the most reclusive bedroom singer solicits influence and advice from the internet. And that’s okay! DIY is a myth that needed to be busted.
You, me, and everyone you and I know in this relatively small community of friends and fans has an incredibly supportive network around them that helps maintain the momentum of our machine. I see it in tweets, when someone’s gear goes missing, when a last-minute housing situation for a touring band falls through, when friends share each other’s music and articles, or when Mother Nature strikes Silent Barn. Each time, the support reaffirms my conviction that we do everything together, always.
This year at the Portals SXSW showcase, I huddled inside a rickety farm house on the outskirts of town with a crowd of friends and strangers hiding from a torrential rainstorm. The floor heaved and buckled under us as we collectively jumped along to Kero Kero Bonito’s “My Party.” If you haven’t heard the song, it’s pretty self-explanatory: she’s throwing a party, everyone’s invited, it’s going to be fun. It felt like it was written for that exact moment, each beat before the chorus met with perfect comedic timing to elicit laughs and even harder dancing.
Every single person in that room would offer the any other person their couch, their guitar or synth, or anything else in a time of need. Vague internet acquaintances mashed together in a random house, and I have no doubts of this. That’s what I love about music, beyond the ASMR goosebumps I get when I listen to a particularly moody Mood Hut, more than the fleeting joy followed by jarring regret after spending too much money on merch, even more than the temporary high I get from a great concert. I love the friends I’ve made. And the countless drunken debates about poptimism. And the turbulent flights that bring me to festivals and parties where we can see each other in person once a year.
Through dozens of shows this year, this is the moment that’s stuck with me: I found myself smushed up against the front row of a PC Music show in a venue-turned-sauna, unwilling to give up my spot for a trip to the bar for some water. A wonderful person, who I only knew through Twitter and had just met for the first time less than an hour before, voluntarily left between each set, weaving through a shoulder-to-shoulder crowd to bring back water for everyone in our happy little group, making sure we stayed hydrated through the six hour show. When I listen to music, or buy a ticket to a show, or share a friend’s article, or write something about an album I like, I’m chasing that feeling. And that night, I was reminded this chase isn’t a sprint, it’s a relay. And we pass the baton together.