Soul Asylum has to be one of the most under-appreciated yet brilliant bands around today. I first saw them live in 2007 at The House of Blues in Las Vegas. I had purchased the tickets as a gift for my younger brother. I remember he was around 13 years old when Grave Dancers Union was released. I recall that it was a staple in his Walkman.
I had more fun than my brother at that concert. I was up front and center singing along to all the songs from my past. It was like these songs were old friends reuniting with my ears and hugging my teenaged, angst-ridden soul. I rediscovered an energy within myself. As I watched Dave Pirner shake his hips and tell corny jokes between the gems he played, the rest of the crowd united together in what seemed to be a congregation of misfits in their mid-30s, all of whom were baptized in beer and celebrating together in some type of lyrical eroticism with each song the band played. As the evening came to a close, a cloud of disappointment filled the venue as each one of us laic parishioners realized we had to return to an outside world filled with Auto-Tuned "musicians."
As I realized just how good Soul Asylum truly was, I felt my heart sink. Missing from that night was the youth of today. Somewhere they were tucked away in commercialized clothing stores, perhaps even Twittering about the latest so-called punk fashion at the local H&M or Hot Topic store. Maybe they were even Googling the phrase "record store" to see if they once actually existed. Today's youth had traded truth in talent for bad comb-over hairdos and ignorant piercings. The terms "original," "talented," and "compose" seemed to have all been replaced with "pay to play," "omg," and "American Idol." Even sadder, the following night I had come to accept at a local venue, with local bands, that today's aspiring musicians were oblivious to this sacrifice. Songs by Soul Asylum, such as "Oxygen" (off of their 2006 disc, The Silver Lining) furnishes fans with a bouquet of beautifully embodied lyrics. I'm afraid good music and undefiled writing could be lost if bands like Soul Asylum fail to continue on.
There is hope, however. The band just announced a 14-date tour starting in June and running through August with several stops across the U.S. What an opportunity for others to reconnect with their past while others discover their future. Dave Pirner's writing is overwhelmingly nervous, imperceptibly tragic, inconceivably ironic, and simply genius. Although the band is reportedly working on an album with a blind 2010 release date, their matter of course to simply play music seems to have inspired these summer tour dates. With 11 discs under the band's belt, and a re-formulated ensemble of talent, I'm crossing my fingers the hope that a new breed of fans will be born.
Soul Asylum possesses a bittersweet, incandescent sound, a sound truly amplified through the human connection by virtue of their live show. To embrace not only the band's live flaws but also the crowd's magnetic vivacity is comparable to a one-night stand — it's over too soon, but leaves memories that will last forever and could only be described, truly, if one had been there in the moment.
For tour dates please visit the band's official site. The band also just introduced Soul Asylum TV with rare performances (again not as intense unless you see them live!).