End of Year Review: Conor Mackie

Conor Mackie started in the year in London and ended it in Toronto, going on so many adventures in between and hearing all of the music.

End of Year Review: Conor Mackie

By Conor Mackie

Dec 31, 2015 16:28

2015 was a weird year. I started the year living with my (now ex) girlfriend and her family, whilst working at the British Museum in London. I’m finishing it single, living in Toronto, unemployed and sleeping on a futon. It’s fair to say that a lot has changed, there’s been a ton of ups and downs (mostly downs) and I’m hopeful 2016 will be better and, if not, I fucking hope it’s at the very least more stable. However, saying all that, music has provided me with the highlights of my year. Records from bands like Turnover, Shit Present, WOAHNOWS and so many more have provided this less-than-stellar year with a near-perfect soundtrack.

Let’s start with Turnover. ‘Peripheral Vision’ was one of my records of the year and I think it caught me at just the right point in my year. It came out a few weeks after I had returned from a tour that Bayone (shameless self-promotion, of course: https://bayone.bandcamp.com/) went on with some of the best people I’ve ever met, 52 Hertz (https://theloneliestfrequency.bandcamp.com/). I’d just spent seven days driving around Europe with some of the loveliest guys ever and then suddenly I was back in London surrounded by thousands of horrific business pricks who all probably voted Tory. Fuck that place, man. ‘Peripheral Vision’, though, transported me back into that van, back into those grotty venues, back into that weird squat where I got tattooed on my 24th birthday by an extremely drunk girl. It’s a record that has a magical quality to it that is so hard to put your finger on. Each reverb soaked and delay-heavy song feels like a dream and it’s a wonderful record.

Next up, WOAHNOWS. Everyone needs to listen to this band and their debut, ‘Understanding And Everything Else’, is one of the best from a UK band in this whole ‘punk’/’alternative’/’whatever’ scene that I can remember. Everything about this record just makes me grin from ear to ear and the drums are so unreal, some of the stuff that goes on just blows me away. It was also the first record I reviewed for Punktastic, so I guess it would be wrong if I didn’t mention it here.

Shit Present put out the best EP of the year, without question. Iona Cairns from Great Cynics formed something of a punk rock supergroup when starting Shit Present, recruiting past and present members of Gnarwolves, OK Pilot, The Computers and The Smith Street Band to help her. It’s hard to put into words the way this EP makes me feel, but if you consider that I cried whilst watching them play live in September, a few weeks before I moved, that should give you some idea. There’s something about Iona’s voice that is so emotional and raw that it just really affects me in a way that a lot of others don’t. The line “I know I was crying for what seemed like half a year, but I’m trying. You just only see my fear ‘cause you hold me dear” still destroys me every time and whenever I listen to this EP (which is averaging out around once every two days) I still get the same feeling in my gut that I did when I first heard them. ‘Evaporate’ is one of the hardest hitting songs in recent memory and the subject matter in this song is tough, but so important, to listen to. This band is vital and I cannot wait to hear what they do next.

This year I returned to Fest. I missed last year but when I was offered a ride down to Gainesville with the guys in Arms Aloft and Guerrilla Poubelle, it felt like too good an opportunity to pass up. If you don’t know those bands, I urge you to check them out, they’re two of the best punk bands around and both are criminally underrated. I was reminded of just how magical a place Fest the moment I arrived and it was a weekend of fun and jello shots and dancing on vans to Katy Perry. There’s something about looking around a college town that has been taken over by (mostly) likeminded people who are all also stupid enough to be wearing black tee shirts in 30°C heat that makes you feel part of something. I’ve written before about the way in which there seems to be no hierarchy at Fest and this year served as a reminder of just how true this is. It’s a magical place and if there is ever a time that you can find your way there, you should seize that opportunity with both hands and have the best weekend of your year. You’ll also then get to experience the horrendous, horrific comedown once the inevitable post-Fest blues set in. I got hit hard this year, probably not helped by spending 10 hours in Orlando airport by myself after seeing some of my dearest, and some of my newest, friends fly away to different parts of the world. But, hey, it was worth it.

This year has been the roughest for a long time and things have been tough pretty much throughout. Music, though, has been a thing to pour myself into and I’ve been lucky enough that I have friends who allow me to do this and to write about it and to experience it. Thanks to James for asking me to join Bayone. Thanks to 52 Hertz for taking us around Europe again. Thanks to Dan Bond for asking me to be in Myelin and thanks to Bob Barrett for stepping up and making me look really, really shit at drums by replacing me (check them out here: https://myelinldn.bandcamp.com/.) Thanks to Arms Aloft and Guerrilla Poubelle for letting me tag along. Thanks to Sarah and Tony at Fest for making a weekend in October the best one of the year, every year. Thanks to Maryam and Ben for letting me write for Punktastic. Thanks to Jess for putting up with me and sorry to Jess for being so difficult to be around a lot of the time. Thanks to my mum and dad for being the best. Thanks to Pinegrove, Marietta, Turnover, WOAHNOWS, Hop Along, Spraynard, Great Cynics, Bangers, Shit Present, I Love Your Lifestyle, Dikembe and so, so, so many more bands for putting out amazing releases this year.

Music can be such a force for good and it’s the most amazing thing in the world that seeing that band you love play your favourite song can make you feel on top of the world for three and a half minutes, that drum fill can lift your spirits and those chords can make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. More of that in 2016, please. Less of everything being shit, please.

“I am every person that you’ve ever ignored, I am the flaming bag of dog shit on your porch, used to think I was a saviour, a part of a cause; now see I am nothing, no, nothing at all”