I never understood the massive vitriol people have for Coldplay. See here, or here, or here for examples. I find them almost completely neutral music-wise, decent elevator music that I’d almost never seek out myself, but that I might sing along with if it’s on, and certainly wouldn’t scoff at. I even really like their Christmas jam, “Christmas Lights.” In my eyes, they’re a more palatable Dave Matthews Band (whose vitriol I do understand), and they are massively popular. But much like any half-decent elevator music, I never thought Coldplay would move me to tears.
So I guess “Christmas Lights” isn’t the only Coldplay song I like, but it is the only one I like of my own volition. I like “Fix You,” for one reason, and one reason only: the napkin shower that accompanies it during closing time at the Dead Dog Saloon in Sea Isle. I’ve written about my love for Sea Isle countless times, so won’t bore you. It’s a summertime staple for me, but like most young, dumb, new adults, my first few summers there were spent solely patronizing the Ocean Drive (“the OD”if you want to sound like you’ve been there before). The Dead Dog just seemed too staid. You need a collared shirt to get in for god’s sake! We’d maybe grab a drink when we passed by, but never spent any real time there, not until a couple of year’s ago, when we went down for my buddy Cavi’s bachelor party.
As bachelor parties often go, by the end of the night we’d lost the majority of the group to the temptations of SIC, and the last remaining soldiers found ourselves at Dead Dog just before last call. I’m not sure why we went there. Was the line too long at the OD? Was it because it was on the way to Wawa? I don’t know that anyone will ever know, but I can tell you that it was glorious. The bartenders called last call, we got some drinks, the lights dimmed, and the familiar tinkle of Florence and the Machine’s “Dog Days are Over” started to knead through the air. I’ve always liked the song, but never necessarily considered it a bar song. I happily nodded along, but an anticipated hush fell over the rest of the crowd. They’d been waiting for this. They needed it. They loved it. As the song built momentum, the crowd started whipping themselves into a frenzy. The place was going b-a-n-a-n-a-s style bananas, and we were right there with them, singing the lyrics, pumping our fists (it is the Jersey shore after all) and generally drinking the kool-aid. Then, just as it seemed everything might get too crazy, the warm, soporific strains of Coldplay’s “Fix You” started wafting through the bar, getting the patrons ready to go home to their drunken slumbers, but lest we thought the song was going to lull us into a catatonic state and end the night on a down-note, the tempo picked up halfway through, and the excitement started building again. And just when the song hit its crescendo, the lights started blinking, and a rain of confetti poured down on the patrons of the Dead Dog. People were in various states of elation, hands outstretched, mouths agape. Nothing excites me more then a group of people singing together with purpose, and while I’m not sure what that purpose was, it was present. I think I saw tears being shed.
It was an amazing way to end the night, and I thought I was part of some magical once-in-a-lifetime Sea Isle experience. I wasn’t. This is there last call tradition. And there was no confetti. I’m not sure if the lights were flashing in the way I remember them either, but there was a cascade of napkins falling from the second floor while Coldplay played. Making it to Dead Dog for last call is now an integral part of my Sea Isle experience. It’s something I cherish, and something I look forward to, and so this morning, after booking rooms at the La Costa, the jewel of Sea Isle’s motels, I went on YouTube and put on some “Dog Days” while putting away laundry. Once I’d exhausted that, I put on “Fix You.” I was going to move onto “Africa,” another SIC staple (OD though), but I was fiddling with something or other away from the computer, and YouTube automatically started playing another video. It happened to Coldplay’s most recent performance of “Fix You” from last week’s One Love Manchester concert.
I was tangentially aware the Manchester comment had happened last weekend, because I’ve been on a bit of self-imposed no news streak for the past week or so. It just gets overwhelming sometimes, and I like to take a step back, and bar the Comey hearing, which I watched like a movie, I’ve been pretty good at only keeping myself somewhat aware of what’s been going on in the world. For those of you more under a rock then I, One Love Manchester was a benefit concert, headed by Arianna Grande, in response to the terrorist bombing at her concert in the same city two weeks earlier. Guys, if you too have maybe been avoiding the news or current events, because everything feels so bleak and argumentative recently, this is a perfect palate cleanser to remind you that people are more inherently good, then awful.
Maybe because prior I’d only ever listened to it while capping off a beach-side bender, but “Fix You” is kind of a pretty song. And it’s kind of uplifting. And in a context like this, where something heinous just occurred, that many of the people present were unfortunately privy too, it was downright beautiful, right up to the actual confetti that blasted off during the crescendo from rainbow cannons at the front of the stage. It gave me chills.
That didn’t make me cry though. If we’re being technical, it was Coldplay’s performance that had me all weepy, but not one of their songs. It was the next clip that played automatically, Chris Martin and Ariana Grande dueting to “Don’t Look Back in Anger” that opened the waterworks. I’m going to preface this by saying that I love Oasis. “Wonderwall” was my class song, so that holds a special nostalgia. “Champagne Supernova,” “Rock and Roll Star,” and “Stop Crying Your Heart Out” are all on my regular rotation. “Don’t Look Back in Anger” might low-key be my favorite though. I love that song, so was glad they picked it, and initially probably didn’t even realize the significance. I just thought “Oh great, my favorite Oasis song,” but you know what I once again experienced? A group of people signing together with purpose, a purpose so much more important and resilient then my shitting around down the shore with my friends. Here was a group of people basically giving a giant middle finger the violence and ugliness of life. They weren’t mad. They weren’t bitter. It wasn’t even somber. It was celebratory, and Chris Martin, and Ariana Grande, and 50,000 people singing “So Sally can wait,” in unison, and imploring us to not look back in anger, but to celebrate what you do have was a sight to behold. I got chills again, and no doubt realizing how heartbreaking, and empowering this all was, I cried. I didn’t even realize I was I think, till the clip ended, and I was glad I was alone in my room, and not somewhere in public. It was incredibly cathartic to watch, and a nice reminder that throughout all the shit that goes on, in general, things are good.
If you have some time this weekend, I really would suggest checking some of this out. I think even if the artists here aren’t your favorites, this is one of those times when the overall message transcends particular taste.