I Really Got Into It
I don’t dress up for Halloween. Not anymore. I lost the passion for it earlier than most, and around 5th grade I just stopped. I never felt comfortable in a costume, and even though I was known to begrudgingly dress up as Indiana Jones for a Halloween party in the late 2000s, I kind of let it all fall away.
- “Every Time It Rains” — Kelly Finnigan
- “The Agony” — Deltron 3030
- “Bed for the Scraping” — Fugazi
- “Wishing Well” — Screaming Females
- “Fiesta” — Sense Field
- “Chains” — Black & Blues
- ”In the Air” – Soulcrate Music
- “The Crystal Lake (Piano Version)” — Grandaddy
- “Brainfreeze” — Bully
- “Faith Healer” — Julien Baker
- “Halloween” — Phoebe Bridgers
- “Me-Time (With the Pulmonary Palimpsest)” — Busdriver
- “A Tattered Line of String” — The Postal Service
- “Gates of Steel” — Skankin’ Pickle
- “Always a Comedian” — Cadillac Blindside
- “Paper Lanterns” — Green Day
I never felt comfortable, that is, except for one year in high school. For whatever reason, a group of friends and I all decided to wander out and go trick-or-treating. We were definitely too old, and our costumes were hastily thrown together. I don’t remember if it was after a band practice, or if it was just because we were bored. I do remember that it felt great. It felt real. The details are foggy, but the collective energy is still there. The costumes weren’t meant to change who we were; instead, they were secondary to the spirit of our friendship and the scene we came out of.
I’ve worn a lot of costumes, metaphorically speaking, looking for one that would fit. Costumes to get a job and costumes to overcome fear and costumes to gain acceptance. For a long time, the one that felt the most comfortable wasn’t a costume as much as it was a kind of small-town movement: the energy and collective sweat of punk shows in Sioux Falls. It was an atmosphere of discovery; together, we negotiated the balance of adolescence and adulthood, we bounced and smashed together regardless of genre, and, like rocks in a tumbler, we came out the other side brighter than we went in
I always struggle to write about the mid–90s — my brief flirtation with being an actual part of a music scene, before college pulled my attention away, before I became a spectator. It suffers the same fate as any fit of nostalgia; what feels life-altering to me is in fact just another point on a timeline to anyone who wasn’t there. Writing about how a moment in time changed your life is more for the author, or for those who went through it. Conveying the kind of wonder and spirit of a blossoming scene or memory is nearly impossible.
And then last week I watched the trailer for I Really Get Into It, a documentary from my friend Brian about the scene that we both grew up in, and I was able to see it through the eyes of someone who wasn’t there. It captures that nostalgia, because it reminds me that I wasn’t alone. That this wasn’t something I’ve rounded the edges on. This was real. Even on the outskirts, even if we only briefly passed through, we all contributed to something larger, and that spirit translates to the screen.
Sioux Falls doesn’t seem like an underground music destination until you remember that we’re at the crossroads of two major interstates, roughly a day or so away from several major cities. We were the city you drove through to get from Minneapolis to Denver; from Fargo to Kansas City. We had open venues. We had great promoters. And we had a thirsty group of kids rabid for something different.
Like any ecosystem of people, there were tiers and cliques. There were band people. Show people. Casuals. Crust punkers. Emo nerds. People struggling to find confidence and identity, to find their place not only in the scene, but beyond, fighting to figure out how their moral compass spun.
But, no matter what, there was — and still is — an acknowledgment. I see people I only recognize from a random show, or some late 90s party, or from a friend of a friend. We always nod. We always know. We were there, and even if we’ve never spoken once, we all have that common ground.
We’ve all changed our costumes a few times. We all still feel comfortable together. We all have those years, nostalgia be damned.