If anything has been proven to me when I receive feedback on my blogs, it’s that I’m not alone. Another thing besides my blogs that gives me a sense of community at times is the music I listen to. Last year I wrote a blog about my experience with Lacuna Coil and how listening to that band gave me so many friends and good experiences. This entry is about another band that has had a tremendous impact on my life, Katatonia. And while I could write a very similar entry today about my experiences at Katatonia shows, I want to focus on other aspects.
I consider the impact that Katatonia’s music has had on me to be a positive one. I can easily see why some people may consider it to be not so positive. The majority of Katatonia’s lyrics and themes are miserably depressing. But that’s the point. I relate to them. I relate to this band probably more than any other I’ve ever heard.
I first heard Katatonia in 1997. Unlike now, I didn’t pay close attention to lyrics at that time. I really only listened to music that I liked the sound of. However, there was something about Katatonia’s lyrics that stuck out. On their 1997 album, Discouraged Ones, I heard lines such as “Who’s painting my life in sorrow blue?” I always loved the visual that I was able to get from that line. It was something that connected to me.
1999’s Tonight’s Decision was a slightly heavier album than Discouraged Ones, and I really liked it from the first time I heard it, but again, it’s the lyrics that drew me in. There were so many things on this album that I really liked, but it wasn’t until their next release that I GOT IT.
Katatonia released Last Fair Deal Gone Down in 2001 and that album hit me like nothing else had ever done before. When I first heard the songs, I was going through a depression spell. It was one of the first times that I actually realized what was happening to me and wasn’t in denial of depression. Last Fair Deal is the perfect soundtrack for what I was going through. From start to finish I consider it to be an almost flawless album. You can hear and feel the misery, agony, and desperation throughout the record. However, there’s been some points that the lyrics on this album hit too close to home and it was difficult for me to listen to it. As I said, it’s either a good thing or a bad thing.
On June 4th, 2004 I was finally able to see Katatonia perform live. Unfortunately, they didn’t play in the United States very often then. And since this was only their second North American show ever and I felt I needed to experience it, I was willing to go some distance to see them. I drove from my house in New Jersey to Cleveland for that show. And two days later, I saw them again in Montreal, Quebec. That was the one and only time I had ever left the United States, and it was to see Katatonia.
At that show in Cleveland, I have no shame in admitting that I had tears in my eyes from the very first note they played. I knew I was seeing something special. Both of those shows had me experiencing a nice range of emotions, but it was all positive.
Katatonia started touring the United States somewhat regularly in 2006. I was lucky enough to see them four times on that first tour, as they had an abundance of shows that was not tremendously far away. All four of the shows I saw on that tour were very memorable to me for various reasons, some very personal and still hold incredible significance to me today.
To celebrate the 10th anniversary of Last Fair Deal Gone Down in 2011, Katatonia performed some shows around the world in which they played that entire album from start to finish, and then played at least one song from every other album. I was lucky enough to attend their show in Rochester, NY. In the year or so before this show, I had a very rough time. I had a lot of things in my life go wrong and this show was beyond therapeutic for me. I got to see the album that has emotionally impacted me maybe more than any other album I’ve ever heard and it felt great. I had a few friends there and they had some of their friends there as well. We were all 100% into what we were seeing and hearing. It was a community of Katatonia fans. And no matter what we were dealing with at that time, or had dealt with prior, we knew we that we were NOT alone.
“and when I pause for a breath I see millions like me.”
– Katatonia, from the song “Clean Today.”
As a little addendum to this entry. I’ve had a very difficult time writing it and I’m not even sure why. Maybe it was a writer’s block thing or maybe my self-imposed deadline of June 4th, the 10th anniversary of my first Katatonia show. Or maybe it was just due to having so many deeply personal things tied into Katatonia music and shows that it was difficult for me to put it into words. Regardless, I’m still glad I was able to share this much, even if I’m not completely satisfied with what I wrote.