Music/Popular Culture

Love song: an open letter to Space Team Electra

They don’t even know what it is to be a fan. Y’know? To truly love some silly little piece of music, or some band, so much that it hurts. – Sapphire, Almost Famous

Photo by Heather Ramey

Photo by Heather Ramey

My Last.FM profile says I have played Space Team Electra tracks 1,093 times. But that’s misleading. For starters, Last.FM didn’t launch until three years after the band broke up. So that’s nearly a decade of playing The Vortex FlowerThe Intergalactic Torch SongKill Apollo and Space Apple Deluxe to death. That number doesn’t include the 30-35 times I saw them live. It doesn’t count all the miles I have logged listening to the CDs on the road. And it doesn’t reflect the times I have been listening on my computer but, for some reason, the scrobbler was turned off.

Gun to my head guess? The real number is probably five times what Last.FM knows about.

Tonight Space Team Electra played a reunion show – their first gig in 13 years or so. Now I’m sitting here … numb. A show I never thought would happen happened. I was front and center, hanging off the monitors, for over an hour. It was pure elation. It was so wonderful that, as Sapphire says in Almost Famous, it hurt.

In a word: it was transcendent.

I could go on at length about how tight the band sounded. About how impossible it is to believe that they haven’t played together in 13 years. Even about how none of the members seems to have aged a day. Instead, though, I want to offer a deeply personal note of gratitude.

See, for a decade or so STE was the soundtrack to my life. It was a period of joy, of pain, of intense struggle as I worked to complete a daunting PhD program that remains the single greatest challenge of my life. But it didn’t matter what else was going on, what kind of week I was having, that I had a major paper due, whatever. If the band was playing, I was there. Period. They were more than my favorite local act – they were a legitimate priority in my life. I carried on an intimate relationship with their music and was honored that I got to know them personally, that they acknowledged my devotion to their art, that they treated me like a friend.

When they split it was as though someone close to me had died. I mean this literally: I grieved for the passing on of one of the greatest bands I had ever known. There was a void that never really got filled. 

…so much that it hurts.

And now I sit here contemplating a cruel ambivalence. For one night it was like the old times. There were intimate moments like the pensive, dreamy beauty of “Glitter Galaxy” and “Amnesia.” There were massive doses of their trademark wall of divine noise, as in “Shadow,” with which they drew the curtain one final time.

Tonight was as unflinchingly happy as I can remember being for some time. But now … now there will be no more.

I hope that I can continue to call the members of Space Team Electra my friends, but I have to say goodbye to the band.

And so, I want to say to Myshel, Bill, Greg and Kit, you will never know what your music meant to me, and I’m not a good enough writer to find words to express it all.

Thank you, from my very core.

Energy is eternal delight…

2 replies »

  1. Sam and I met years ago thanks to this band. S&R wouldn’t have come into being without their influence. I was at the show last night with Sam and other old friends and had a fantastic, unforgettable time.

  2. I decided out today nowhere to look up some old STE songs today, and found this article by pure happenstance. I’d probably never have known about the reunion show otherwise. Thank you so much for this. They’re a special band who will always have a special place in my heart and in my memories.

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