A couple of weeks ago I went down to the Mercury Lounge all by my lonesome to see a band I like. I thought of it as practice being human – to go alone like that. Also I knew there would be other melancholy soulmates there – seekers of the sublime – other odd lots and introverts. The sort of people who love the music of Nick Principe’s Port St. Willow.
I was right to go, and I’m actually glad I went alone. His music is deeply emotional – it reminds me of how I feel when I look at a painting by Rothko. He evokes a feeling of something so lovely and so sad swelling up inside of you that you think you might burst from the terrible beauty of it. It’s something you kind of want to sit with on your own. He had a fantastic drummer to help and a woman doing lovely subtle vocals – but Principe is the show. My daughter says he’s not strictly “shoegaze” or even “dreampop” but it’s awfully atmospheric music, and he has so many pedals that he sometimes plays barefoot.
This kind music – this particular musician – the quiet, intense people standing next to me listening – they make me feel good about that generation – twenty-somethings I guess – low twentysomethings. I felt privileged to stand among them – like old fashioned reverent about it. They’re so serious about what matters to them – and it’s good things that matter: art, the earth, their friendships, their values. They’re too young to be self-consciously hip and they’re way too young to be addicted to brands and material goods. They wear their faded shirts and sneakers with such dignity. They pay attention – even in a dark music venue on a Friday night on the Lower East Side with plenty of alcohol flowing – they stop and listen. They aren’t jaded.
I’m not sure they’ll ever be jaded. I think they grew up super validated – I do – and I think that’s good for people, but it seems like more than just confidence. They seem like old souls – a collection of young people who are shining out against the ash and smoke of the previous generations.