20 years later.
29 June 2012
Sometime in late 1991 or early 1992, at a record store in Greenfield, MA, I picked up a CD with cover art of an inverted starfiled. It was by a band named Codeine, and called Frigid Stars LP. I bought it, unheard, because I found the cover intriguing, and because it was on Sub Pop, the original home of Nirvana who were blowing up at the time. That was how we discovered new music back in those days; it didn't always work, but as soon as I put the CD on I fell in love.
Codeine sounded entirely original, and found a sweet spot for me (as a sad and angsty teenage boy) between power-pop and art-punk on the one hand (Teenage Fanclub, The Pixies, Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr) and goth-tinged synth-pop on the other (The Cure, Depeche Mode). I listened to Frigid Stars on pretty much non-stop repeat through the winter of 1992.
For the next few years, if asked of my favourite band, Codeine would invariably be the answer. I thought that I had seen them live twice, both times at the Iron Horse in Northampton, MA, during the 1993 and 1994 Loud Music Festivals, but according to a show list on a semi-official website it seems they only played the second of those. Soon after that in any case, and the release of their third album, the band broke up. I grew out of my teens and my angst (mostly, though not so much the sadness) and found new favourite bands, but would still find myself digging out the Codeine CDs and 7"s from time to time.
Back in February I got the weekly email, which I typically ignore, from the Bell House about upcoming shows, but this one caught my eye because the first word in the subject line was "Codeine." They were playing Brooklyn in June. A week after my birthday. A little more digging revealed that a remastered, deluxe box-set of their recordings was being put together, and they were playing about a dozen shows in the spring and summer, their first shows in 18 years, and the first with the original band members in almost 20.
I bought tickets the moment they went on sale, and pre-ordered the box set. The box set arrived on my birthday last week. Tonight was the Bell House show, the first of two in NYC. And I'm sure that my 17 year old self would have been—well, maybe if not exactly "happy"—glad to know that 20 years later I'm still really into something he was into way back when.