From 1994-2006 I had a curious self made job. I became a professional street teamer for various indie acts and labels, providing free PR and even booking gigs across New England. I was extremely successful at it. It doesn’t seem like much, but it’s really hard to get a club gig in an area where not many people know who you are, and for indie bands and labels word of mouth is a big deal. This was especially true in those pre-interweb days. In return for literally hours of footwork I was paid in music, merch and tickets. At one point I represented over a dozen labels, countless bands and venues. It was a true full time job. Some of my biggest achievements include getting the White Stripes and Deerhoof their first gigs around Boston.
You’d think I was getting ripped off doing all this for seemingly little, but I wasn’t. I couldn’t work at a job that paid cash, as I was in a situation where I wouldn’t be able to keep it for myself (complicated fucked up shet, yo). And in the end the things I most looked forward to were going to those shows. They were everything to me. It was one of the few escapes I managed back in my preteen-teen years when I was uprooted from my inner city life and dumped into a lower class suburb full of people who tortured me for fun. I saw Sleater-Kinney when no one knew who they were all the way up to their end. I danced with Kaia from the Butchies and Team Dresch on a table at the Middle East Downstairs. I sang with Beth Ditto who told me that I was going to get herpes if I shared her mic (I couldn’t love her more). I witnessed Rasputina snap a string (which is rather hard to do). I saw Kristin Hersh hypnotize crowd after crowd after crowd. I saw Ani DiFranco in tiny rooms and giant theaters. I saw +/-, Deerhoof, Elliott Smith, Mia Doi Todd. I saw Helium and Mary Timony. I told Neil Finn I wanted to have Lisa Germano’s baby (he said he’d be sure to pass that on). I saw the Faux and stood confused outside of a closed venue on the night that Lady K died. I still had her ticket in my hand. I saw Tricky and Moby. I heckled the singer from Fluttr (who threw me free CDs because he didn’t know what else to do). I heckled Dee Tension (who took it and ran with it like the rock star that he is). And I saw the Shods kick more ass than you’ve sat on.
While I was there I was so happy. Nobody gave a shit that I didn’t drink or smoke. Nobody gave a shit that I was so fat. I made friends. Went to more shows with those friends. Went to parties. Made more friends. Watched Amanda Palmer play a Casio keyboard on a friend’s bed. It was frelling epic.
Until it wasn’t. Until I couldn’t go to a show anymore without hyperventilating or vomiting. Until I couldn’t be alone in a crowd without being alone in a crowd. Until the panic attacks became so bad that I stopped leaving my house, stopped driving, stopped going to classes. I stopped my epic reign as PR/Geurilla/Street Team Queen and lost all of my connections. I lost friends. I lost myself. Everything fell apart. My dream of being a musician myself was completely crushed. It got so bad that when the National toured Boston last year with Wye Oak and Yo La Tengo my parents bought tickets and took me with them because they are so worried. Because there was once a time that I’d be backstage annoying the shit out of a band, not crying at home because I couldn’t bring myself to watch them play.