Somehow, When You Smile, I Can Brave Bad Weather

In 1989, The Who reunited for a tour celebrating their 25th anniversary. The LA show, during which they played the entirety of Tommy, aired on Pay-Per-View. My small self was glued to the TV for the whole concert, later begging my parents to let me watch the VHS recording they'd made. The music had stirred something in me I did not have words for. My mom dug out her "Overture" sheet music, and I picked out the melody for "We're Not Gonna Take It" incessantly on my cheap keyboard.

I've seen The Who over a dozen times since 2006, but I had never seen them 1) with an orchestra; 2) play "Overture" or "We're Not Gonna Take It." The two shows they put on this weekend at The Hollywood Bowl were straight out of my wildest childhood dreams.

I want everyone to experience these stupendous orchestral arrangements by David Campbell. Please listen to what he did with "Eminence Front" and the way "Who Are You" builds into something no other human could have conjured into existence. This version of “Eminence Front” was off the charts, full of improv from Pete, and a surprise ending that made the man himself laugh, and my seat neighbour (whom I did not know) and I grin at each other in delight. 

U2 might be my favourite band, "Bad" my favourite song, but it's Pink Floyd's The Wall that I believe to be the most perfect album ever written, and "The Rock" by The Who the most perfect musical composition. Every twist, swoop, dance, and dive is perfection. Hearing this track live has been a highlight of my concert-going adventures, but hearing it live with an orchestra surpassed anything I could have imagined.

It could be the sleep deprivation, but, honestly, right now I can’t manage more than that. You just have to listen. Here’s one more for good measure:

How lucky are we, to be alive at the same time as these humans? Long live The Who, and long live rock.

It Was 20 Years Ago Today

20 years ago, on July 5, 1999, EXIT held their first band rehearsal. Our new friend and singer, Nikki, and the three of us had a ball stumbling through some U2 songs, trying to find our feet. This was the first time that Susan, Pam and I played together, and aside from 2008-2011 when Susan felt the need to step away from the band, we have been playing together ever since.

Sound Arena Studios, Reseda, CA - July 2001

Here’s a brief rundown of what we’ve been up to all this time:

  • 08 Dec 1999: First gig!

  • 2000-2002: Unintentionally become U2 cover band, build community

  • 08 Mar 2002: First live performance of original songs

  • May 2003: Record demo with Jeff Gross

  • 14 Jun 2003: Last U2 tribute gig (including originals) at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, OH

  • 08 Nov 2003: Play at inTO The HEART U2 fest in Toronto, Canada

  • 22 Dec 2003-3 Jan 2004: USO and NATO tour of the Balkans

  • 12 Mar 2004: Nikki's last gig with EXIT

  • 13 Nov 2004: New singer found

  • 01 Nov 2005: Play onstage with U2!

  • Feb/Apr 2006: Gigs in Mississippi and Iowa

  • Oct 2006: Record four track EP

  • Jan/Jun 2007: Make music videos

  • Jan 2008: Trevi leaves EXIT

  • Apr 2008: Susan leaves EXIT

  • 2008-2011: Friend Lissie helps keep the band alive by learning a bit of bass and writing/singing some tunes. I make first attempt at singing.

  • Jul-Oct 2011: Pam meets a singer that we write songs and rehearse with but we do not jive. Susan returns to band.

  • 10 Dec 2011: Find yet another new singer

  • Oct 2012: Band name change! EXIT -> Xs & ARROWs

  • Dec 2012-Mar 2015: Gig under Xs & ARROWs, record demos and an EP that is never released, make music videos

  • Mar 2015: Susan says, NO MORE SINGERS. COURTNEY, IT IS YOU.

  • Jun 2016 - Feb 2017: Record EP with Jeff Gross

  • 25 Jul 2017: Questions released as single

  • 27 Oct 2017: From Here EP release!

  • 2018-2019: Radio debuts, radio interviews, music videos, new songs, a U2 cover, big gigs in big parks and small gigs in small rooms!

It's been a long, strange journey. It seems as though every time we almost got somewhere, the landscape shifted abruptly, when the truth is probably that those paths could never have been through roads, as hard as we hacked away at them. In the end, all I know is that I love music, and no matter how many times I’ve felt like giving up, something in me won’t allow it, and apparently won’t let Susan or Pam either. Wherever they lead ultimately, our roads are intertwined.