Feeling the Karma

A band called Karma County played at my wedding on May 20, 2000.

On November 4, 2022, I watched them perform again, this time with DD by my side.

Both experiences were BULK FUN. Karma County are up there with Crowded House on my all-time favourites list.

DD is aware of my Karma County obsession and alerted me to their 25th anniversary tour. He received an email from one of his favourite live venues, Lizotte’s, which was hosting the first night of the tour in Newcastle.

The band was also booked to play in Sydney over the weekend, but we decided to get tickets to the out-of-town gig to soak up the Lizotte’s vibe – it’s an atmospheric old cinema that’s been converted to a supper club.

Then lockdown hit and I spent six months worrying about whether the gig would actually go ahead.

However, the gods smiled on us and opened regional NSW to Sydneysiders three days before Karma County were scheduled to hit the stage. To make it even more celebratory, it was my friend Kirsten’s birthday the same day. So we raced up the freeway after work and shook up a few Espresso Martinis at her place beforehand, to help keep us awake on a school night.

Then we wandered down the hill to Lizotte’s, where I proceeded to do something VERY embarrassing.

Have you ever seen someone famous and thought they were your friend because you recognised their face and said hello?

Yup, I did that.

Cringe.

“Hi Brendan!” I squealed to the lead singer of the band, Brendan Gallagher, as he stood in the foyer writing the playlist for the evening.

He stared at me like this …

ie blankly, except with a face mask on.

I went slightly pale with horror at my faux pas. But, emboldened by an Espresso Martini and glass of champers, I pressed on.

I told him that he’d played at my wedding in 2000.

He stared at me like this …

I explained that I was deputy editor of Cosmopolitan magazine at the time and my husband-to-be was the music reviewer for the magazine. The record company sent us one of their albums and we were hooked.

He asked what my ex’s name was. I told him. He shook his head, no recollection.

I said we held the wedding in a photographic studio on Broadway. He stared at me like this …

He asked me to pull down my mask so he could see my face.

I would repeat the blank Brendan photo, but I figure you get the concept. Nup, I didn’t ring a bell.

Awkward silence.

Ah … well … I might just edge away now …

I wasn’t offended – he must have done sooooooo many gigs in his time, weddings and otherwise.

One of the reasons we asked Karma County to play out our wedding waaaaaay back in 2000 was they had a song (and album) called Olana. They played the song as I walked down the aisle. It was deliriously awesome and we paid handsomely for the privilege. I can remember being a little apoplectic that my ex went straight in with our highest offer, which was more than the price tag of my Collette Dinnigan wedding dress and Gucci shoes combined.

Not surprisingly, Karma County said yes to being paid handsomely to play five songs at my wedding.

That was then:

This was now:

I cried buckets as the beautiful music filled Lizotte’s on Thursday night. I think my friends thought I was sad because of the memories that the songs had provoked, but it wasn’t that.

As I noted in a blog post earlier this year, I usually cry at some point during live performances these days. In recent times that’s included Fleetwood Mac – I forget which song, probably Landslide – plus New Order performing Bizarre Love Triangle and Neil Finn singing Distant Sun.

Even Robbie Williams got me going when he warbled “Love my life”.

Researchers Katherine Cotter and Paul Silvia of the University of North Carolina, and Kirill Fayn of the University of Sydney, collaborated a few years ago on research to investigate the emotions that people experience when music makes them feel like crying.

The majority of those surveyed  – 63% – reported feeling sad when music made them cry, while 36.7% reported feeling awe.

I feel awe. So much glorious awe.

The participants in the study had been given a psychological test to classify them according to five personality attributes — neuroticism, extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness, and conscientiousness. When the researchers sorted the data, they found that people who ranked high on the neuroticism scale experienced sadness when they had been moved to tears by music, and people who scored high in the openness to experience scale felt like crying because the music provoked a profound sense of awe.

So my reaction puts me among the minority who cry at music because it invokes awe, compared to the two-thirds of people who cry because a song is sad.

I love being in that minority.

I also love my Karma County commemorative tea towel, which I bought at considerable expense the end of the gig. As Brendan noted during the gig, they’ve nailed their demographic with their merchandise. The band asked me if I wanted it signed. Yeah, nah, I want to dry dishes with it.

Wish I’d asked for a selfie with Brendan though, despite him having not the faintest clue who I am.

I also think it’s pretty cool that DD happily came along to watch my wedding band perform. And that the friends from my teens have become his friends too.

Many apologies to the Newie friends I didn’t get to see during my flying visit. I had to be back in Sydney to pick the youngest up from school the next day, so pretty much all I had time to do on Friday was take a moody photo of Nobby’s, see my parents while DD went to a work meeting at the John Hunter, then we were straight back on the freeway.

I was sorely tempted to go to Karma County’s matinee gig in Cronulla yesterday, but I was too busy ferrying the youngest around and grocery shopping.

Sad face. I hope they have a 26th anniversary tour.

I also hope that I win the lottery that I never remember to enter. If I win I will open a bar and pay Karma County handsomely to play there every weekend. It is one of the great travesties of music history that they are not world famous.

Song of the day: Karma County “Postcard”

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