A Jammies wake-up call

Backstage with Red Wire Army is joyful, but <i>evil</i>.

Backstage with Red Wire Army is joyful, but evil.

Photo By Josh Fernandez

Life’s monotony is what makes the old seem even older. So every now and then, the old need a wake-up call. Which is why the Jammies (an award show for young musicians) on Saturday at the Crest Theatre was such an uplifting experience—especially for an old person.

When I arrived, I noticed right away that the theater was more packed than at last year’s Sammies (SN&R’s adult music-award show); it’s what event organizer Kelli Guerriero chalked up to the sheer enthusiasm of youth. The kids are less jaded, she said, and the pointed too-cool attitude of disgruntled rock stardom has not yet sliced into their tender paws. For a young musician, to be onstage at the Crest is an experience of a lifetime.

When I arrived, Dog Party—the pre-teen rock duo that sounds a bit like the Breeders—was onstage. They were absolutely killing it. And so was Josiah James (a spitting image of Conor Oberst). It became clear that James, with his emo crooning and comfortable stage presence, had more talent in his deep V-neck Gap T-shirt than I have in my entire body.

When Red Wire Army, a crew of metalheads who wore their hearts on their shirt sleeves (and their favorite metal bands on their shirts) took to the stage, it took all my sensibility not to jump in the pit and start to mosh (you know, for old time’s sake). The night continued: talented kid after talented kid, not a moment to breathe between all the screaming fans and proud parents.

It turns out that Dead Scott, an inventive, quirky, indie-pop band, won first place. But awards didn’t matter as much as the collective energy that a roomful of talented kids can create.

It was invigorating to watch dozens of young musicians perform to a sold-out Crest. It was less invigorating to be at the gym the following morning, watching middle-aged men and women sweating, grunting and lifting our ways to slimmer, more reasonable shapes.

Zoning out, I couldn’t help but to think about how when we were kids, all we needed was a quick sprint to the candy store and our metabolisms would whir like pristine Honda engines. In youth, there is little to no need for excessive heavy lifting and grunting. There is only the moment, and the excitement of the future, buzzing in all directions. And it’s that buzzing which makes being old a little bit more tolerable.