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The Hotelier and Foxing Celebrate Decades Differently
Echoes of Innocence Lost: The Fragility of Mid-Level Fame in the Indie Emo Scene
Indie and emo music is an interesting art form as I head into my 45th year on this earth. It’s even more interesting to parachute into the lives of 30-somethings coming to grips with decade anniversaries of seminal works. A poignant narrative unfolds – one that mirrors the fleeting nature of youth and the sobering embrace of adulthood. This tale was encapsulated in the 10-year anniversaries of two influential records: The Hotelier's "Home Like Noplace is There" and Foxing's "The Albatross." As these bands stopped in Cleveland on their celebratory tour, their journey offers a window into the fragile reality of medium-level fame.
During their set, Foxing nostalgically spoke of how "The Albatross" was their ticket to a Peter Pan-like existence, enabling them to play music for a living and indefinitely delay the traditional trappings of growing up. Their words painted a picture of eternal youth, a dreamy escape into a world where music and passion perpetually reign supreme.
Contrasting this wistful perspective, Christian Holden, The Hotelier's lead singer, bass player, and principal songwriter brought a dose of reality. He shared candid reflections on the temporal nature of such a life. For Holden and his bandmates, the excitement of touring and the adulation of fans were but a "temporary vacation." This was not a sustainable livelihood but a fleeting moment in time.
Holden's revelation that each member of The Hotelier earned about $25,000 annually, maybe less, despite playing around 100 shows a year from 2013 to 2018, underscores the harsh economic realities of the music industry. It’s a world where even those who create something profoundly influential, capable of headlining sold-out tours, find themselves on shaky ground, unable to fully commit their lives to their art.
The recent show at Mahall’s Roxy was as much a celebration as it was a farewell to innocence. It was a high school reunion of sorts, where the joy of rekindling old memories was tinged with the knowledge that this chapter was drawing to a close, at least for some. The audience, just like the band, had experienced the transition from the carefree days of youth to the unpredictable path of adulthood and for one night was trying to recreate the past.
Gone were the impossibly skinny figures and perfect heads of hair, replaced by the visible marks of time and the weight of responsibilities. This physical transformation was a mirror to the internal changes – a shift from the reckless abandon of youth to the measured steps of maturity.
Last night's performance by The Hotelier featured "Housebroken," a track once set aside due to its controversial interpretation. I vaguely remember an on-stage comment from the band discussing why they wouldn’t play it because some fans expressed concerns about misogynistic undertones, particularly in a passage that metaphorically speaks of keeping "bitches in line." While I understand that idea, to me, it was always describing domineering masculinity and not with reverence. However, the band's recent decision to reintegrate the song into their setlist symbolizes a shift mirroring my journey as I approach 45.
With age, I find the rigid edges of youthful idealism softening, the once stark lines of right and wrong blurring into shades of nuanced understanding. Make no mistake, ideals remain steadfast, but the intensity of past sensitivities has mellowed, tempered by time and experience. I’ve experienced a loss in urgency, I think. In its transformative embrace, nostalgia reshapes perceptions, smoothing the once-sharp corners of our convictions and inviting a more forgiving lens. I want grace. I give grace. I try not to make a big deal of things that might not be that big of a deal.
The story of The Hotelier and Foxing is a microcosm of the indie emo scene's broader narrative. It’s a tale of artists caught in the delicate balance between the euphoria of early success and the reality of its limitations. Their journey is a reminder of the transient nature of mid-level fame, a fleeting moment where dreams are both realized and constrained.
As the lights dimmed at Mahall’s Roxy, the echoes of the night resonated strangely with me as I headed to my car. I loved the show. I had an incredible time jamming out and screaming the words to all those songs one more time, but it felt like the end of something. Christian Holden’s words kept ringing in my ears, and it felt like it would be the last time I’d ever get to see The Hotelier.
Meanwhile, it was the fifth time I’ve seen Foxing, and there will probably be a sixth. The juxtaposition of these two bands on a great night of music was almost confusion. It was easy to lose yourself in the moment, even with the harsh reality knowing that these moments can’t possibly last forever.
P.S. The Roxy is an absolute gem of a rock club. The Mahall’s team did a phenomenal job, and the sound in there is wonderful.