The all day queue
When I was a teenager I did a lot of stupid things to look cooler than I actually was, musically. There was the time I bought and proudly wore a Ramones T-shirt, even though I hated the Ramones; the time I inexplicably bought a Fedora to wear to a concert, presumably because I thought it made me look scene as hell; the time I swore black and blue that I hated certain bands and then had to listen to them only in secret - the list goes on, I was basically a massive poser.
Which is what led to my lowest moment.
Sitting on cold concrete before 8am on a cold day in Christchurch, wearing red skinny jeans, a bright yellow top and a face full of eyeliner, camping out for a concert. The main problems with this are: A) The concert didn't start for another 12 hours. 12. HOURS. B) The band I was seeing? It was Cobra Starship.
I waited 12 hours in the cold for a Cobra Starship concert in Christchurch (come on, how busy was that show really going to be?) and here's the kicker: I didn't even like Cobra Starship that much. I just wanted to tick "camped out all day for a concert" off my bucket list. So my friend and I sat/stood/waited for death to come/lay there all day, surrounded by a bunch of other posers who also decided to camp out - and talk about that one time the lead singer liked their post on Tumblr - for 12 hours. I paid $80 for a hoodie (which was actually really cool so I stand by that) and went to the show which I honestly can't even remember now.
If anyone has a time machine and would like to go back and punch 18-year-old me in the face, please let me come with you.
Getting it oh so wrong
With an embarrassment of riches to pick from I had a helluva time selecting just one musical low point. And yes, that sentence does include a reference to a 1992 chart topping pop-rap single by the long forgotten hip-hop outfit Brotherhood Creed, therefore making it a low point for both music and for entertainment writing.
But a quick run through of some edited highlights - or should that be lowlights? - would have to include using my own money to purchase To The Extreme by iconic rap embarrassment Vanilla Ice, being on the wrong side of an intense, evening-long argument over computer music not being "real music", and that one time I quite intently listened to a Jethro Tull record all the way through.
I still shudder remembering how I murdered Spandau Ballet's utterly brilliant and surprisingly acrobatic Gold in a karaoke competition, or when I attempted to kickstart the New Jack Swing revival, or the time I publicly declared that Radiohead's massively influential and critically acclaimed record OK, Computer was "one full hour of suck".
Actually, I still stand by that last one. In fact, now that I think about it, all of this happened just in the past week or so. I really gotta sort my life out, man.
Playing catch ups
First, some context. I grew up in Hong Kong with no access to English radio. It wasn't until 1994, when HMV opened in Hong Kong (bringing with it the iconic
Now That's What I Call Music
compilations) that we had any real access to modern music.
Which is why, in the early 90s, I went through a stage of listening to Sister Sledge on repeat, completely clueless to the fact it was more than a decade out of date.
A family friend's eldest son had moved out, leaving behind a black rubbish sack of cassette tapes. One man's trash was my musical treasure. Well, actually, most of it was shit. But oh how I loved that Sister Sledge tape. We were family.
It wasn't until years later, as friends sat around discussing the great jams of their childhood - C+C Music Factory, Kriss Kross - that I discovered how hopelessly out of touch I'd been. For shame.
During my primary school years I was a huge fan of S Club 7. I had their albums on repeat and recorded their embarrassing TV show on to VHS so I could re-watch it over and over. So when they came to New Zealand near the end of the 90s I was over the moon.
I have vague memories of them performing at the Viaduct in Auckland, but what really stuck with me was waiting in line on Queens St to get into Sounds CD store (this happened so long ago that Sounds is no longer a thing) for a meet and greet with S Club's original members, Hannah, Tina, Jo, Jon, Paul, Bradley and Rachel. And it was amazing.
My mum, who thankfully embraced my childhood fangirling, took my younger sister and I out of school early just so we could see our heroes in the flesh. I was so excited and also extremely nervous, these are the people who I'd been idolising for months on end.
I shyly walked up and asked politely if they could sign my CDs and one by one shook their hands - this was before the days of celebrity selfies and I was way too bashful to ask for a hug. After the rush was over, I looked at my hand and swore I would never wash it again. Classic. (For the record I washed my hands later that day).
This is just one story of many hysteria-fuelled fan-girl moments that have lead me to do some ridiculous things over the years. Like flying to New York in the middle of winter to wait in negative temperatures for 6 hours for an autograph from Glee star Darren Criss after his Broadway stint in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (which I saw live twice while I was there).
After waiting for hours at the front of the gate by the backstage door, he came out and signed my poster and when I shoved out my phone and asked him to smile for a selfie he said something to the effect of, "don't worry, I'm always smiling, baby." ... I reached peak fan-girl that day. I died right then and there.
Unfortunately the majority of my face was cut out of that pic and there was no time for another ... but he still looked beautiful, so that's all that matters.
The disappointing second album
I had a plastic ziplock savings bag full of 50-cent pieces and $1 notes. There was no debating the fact that, in 1990, at the age of 12, I was rich. There must have been at least $20 in that bag. I'd been saving for months.
But this money wasn't going to be wasted. It had a purpose. I spent the summer mowing lawns and washing dishes to save for one single purchase: the new MC Hammer album.
I was 11 years old when U Can't Touch This came out. I hadn't discovered grunge - that pivotal moment came a couple of years later. But something about Hammer's dance moves and baggy pants connected. I bought his album Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em and it was my jam. I had posters. I had the pants. I had the album. I knew every line of U Can't Touch This.
For the first time in my life, I was a superfan.
I desperately wanted Hammer to release the follow-up to that album. I waited. I saved. I read music magazines. Months went by, and that money went untouched. Where was it? Where was the sequel to the most amazing music I'd ever heard?
Hammer took so long I nearly forgot about him. And then I heard it, on chart show RTR Countdown, the turgid pile of bloated WTFness that was 2 Legit 2 Quit.
What was this? Some kind of joke? This isn't what I signed up for. It was awful. It remains one of the worst music videos ever made, for one of the worst rap songs ever made.
I felt jilted. I gave up on the Hammer, got rid of my baggy pants, stopped listening to Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em. I sold it to a mate for $2, added it to my savings fund, walked down to KMart and bought C+C Music Factory's album instead.
I wish I could go back in time and give myself a slap.