There are those bands you dig - and then there are those bands that become the soundtrack of your life. Quasi is the soundtrack of my life. It was love at first sight; from the moment I first saw them perform at Satyricon in the late 90's. The powerful image of Sam Coomes basically, well, humping that Rock-Si-Chord, along with Janet Weiss (a girl - on drums!) athletically pummeling her kit was life-changing. They were (and are) equally powerful onstage as off.
My twenties were shaped by a shy, nerdy Quasi fandom. I had crushes on both of them - Sam in the unattainable "I know it would never work, but I love to love guys I can never have" kind of way that drove me in my youth. And Janet in the "I wish I had a sister, oh my god will you be my sister, or at least maybe my friend?" kind of way that left me wishing I could be even half as cool as her. I'm not admitting anything here, but I might have stalked Sam at his job - and I might have picked out a few clothes based on things I thought Janet would wear. (Okay, I totally did both of those things.)
Yep, Sam used to work at Clinton Street Video when it first opened and I took full advantage of the fact that he was trapped behind the counter. I would saunter in, pick out the most mainstream movies I could find just to grab his attention*, and then stand there batting my eyelashes as he painfully located my selections. Sixteen Candles and Raiders of the Lost Arc? Yes, please! No, seriously. (*In reality, I love mainstream films. You probably could've guessed that. Sam is really smart and has much more sophisticated tastes than I.)
The highlight of my life was when the tapes "became" overdue and he was forced to call me. I would come home from work and find the answering machine blinking at me. I'd press play with trembling hands and often be rewarded with Sam's deep sigh. "This is Sam. From the video store. I am calling about the videos and only the videos. They are late. Bring them back." I'd save the messages for weeks at a time and play them for my friends. "Sam Coomes called me!" I'd say. "Oh, Jenna," they'd reply - often accompanied with a pat on the back. "I know - but he did call me." No one can take that away from me. No one! Not even bitches with reality checks.
And the clothes! Those were heady days in Portland when you could do crazy things like go to a thrift store, score some vintage finds, and pay actual thrift store prices. I'm not saying I Single White Femaled Janet - I had/have my own style. But an item, or two, definitely paid homage. That red top with black leather stripes? Yeah, the dynamic Ms. Weiss inspired that. I might've been wearing it the day someone slipped me an advanced copy of Featuring "Birds," making me feel like the hippest insider in the world. It didn't matter that practically half the town already had this so-called "secret" cassette. Little old me had one, and it was thrilling.
Quasi continued to be there: for every horrible breakup, for every rainy day that made me feel dreary, for every wild night that was bookended with PBRs and weed, for every car ride with my friend Kim while we sang along to every word. It didn't matter what the occasion was - Quasi fit it.
Quasi followed me into my thirties when I abruptly moved to Tucson. Even as I immersed myself in cacti and country, Quasi was always in the background - a tug at my roots and a dear reminder of home. I even hopped in my car one evening when I saw they were playing a club a mere two hours away, driving to Phoenix to see them (meeting Kimmy there - who trekked all the way from LA!). We were there right when the doors opened. Of course I made a beeline for Sam. "How are you? What have you been up to?" He looked at me like I was insane before replying, "I'm fine. I've been playing music." Janet strolled by and offered a casual, "Hey." Only Neil Gust was openly baffled, "What are you doing here?" To which I tried to play it cool by replying, "Oh, I was in the neighborhood." I don't think I fooled him!
Then I fell in love with a fabulous man - one who, as luck would have it, has been my friend since my early twenties and who happened to be my partner-in-crime for the majority of those incredible Satyricon and EJ's shows. Guess whom we asked to play our wedding reception? Sure, they might've said "yes" based on a long friendship with my fiancé, but of course I was the bride so I allowed myself one more delusion that it was all about me! (Sadly Sam wasn't able to make it, but Janet showed up with some other kickass musicians who I idolize and adore.)
Now I'm all grown up. I'm finally the person I always hoped I'd be. I no longer need to stalk or gawk. I'm just happy to be me. And, as I enter this phase, I have a new Quasi album (Mole City) to celebrate with and a Quasi anniversary show on my calendar. My god, I was a dork - but I've had an amazing soundtrack for my awkwardness and I don't regret a thing. Cheers to Quasi - and here's to another twenty years of bringing joy to people's lives!