the light of the darkness

there are some things in this world that just make you inexplicably happy.

last night, my brother and i went to see one of my all-time favorite bands, the darkness, at the last show of their first US tour in 8 years. actually, this tour and this show should never have happened – the band split up 5 years ago and seemed unlikely to ever reunite. but they did, against all odds, and will be releasing their third album early this summer.

i remember the first time i ever heard of the darkness. it was 2003, and i saw their video for “i believe in a thing called love.” my first thought was “are they fucking kidding?” with justin hawkins’ over-the-top falsetto, the flamboyant costumes and serious 80s throwback sound, the only justification seemed to be that they must be a parody. it became clear very quickly that they were entirely serious, and that they seriously rocked.

“permission to land” was their first album, and i remember discovering each new track with an almost childlike delight.

here’s the thing about the darkness: they make me ridiculously happy. always have. i’d wake up in the morning, throw on the album as i was getting ready for work, and it never failed to put a smile on my face. i’d rock around the room to the amusement of my roomie, and i swear this album was singlehandedly responsible for making me much less of a morning crank and much more of a morning person.

there’s a lot to be said for something that makes a huge amount of joy well up inside you. for whatever reason, the darkness does that for me. they’re fun, they’re campy, they’re positive, their music is massive and personal all at the same time.

i had a hard time reining in my glee as i waited for them to come on stage at the neptune last night. i was hoping hoping hoping that justin would come out in one of his trademark catsuits, cut rakishly open to the navel. i couldn’t wait to hear these guys live.

they exceeded all my expectations. while he didn’t start out with a catsuit (instead, a three-piece denim ensemble, of which he periodically removed pieces), he did two costume changes, which i have never seen at a rock concert. britney spears or some lip-syncing pop act? i’d expect to see costume changes there, but this was just awesomeness as only the darkness could bring. the first change brought him back out in a lemur-striped catsuit job with a codpiece (lol!) and a plumy tail appendage (LOL!). good god. the second change was even better – a white/pink/silver business with cutouts and a feathery spinal stripe down the back. he strutted around the stage like a pink spandexasaurus, scissor kicking and stage leaping to my heart’s delight. pure, unapologetic, unadulterated joy.

and they fucking ROCKED. they sounded so amazing live, it was unreal. the notes that man can hit? the guitar licks? unbeatable. they played a near two-hour set, which included all of the tracks from their first album, many from the second, and some off the upcoming new album. can’t wait to hear that thing in its entirety.

as a bonus, the two openers were rad. crown jewel defense was fun, campy and awesome, and though it’s probably not anything i’d listen to on my ipod, they were fun to behold in live form. then came foxy shazaam, who were a huge surprise of awesomeness. andy and i both loved their set, their energy and their totally hilarious and irreverent frontman. we both plan on looking into their stuff and i’d definitely go see them again.

basically, i feel like i got to cross off a bucket list item – a real mylestone. i think most people will never understand my sheer and deep love of this band, and i’m not sure i fully understand it myself. all i know is that their music has been putting a smile on my face for 9 years, and i hope i never lose that. i hope they keep producing and touring and rocking as only they can. i will be along for the ride, and judging by the crowd’s reaction last night, i’m definitely not alone.


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