R.I.P., J-Tar

Wed Sep 18 2013

There’s nothing worse than a last show ever by a band that’s at the top of its game (except maybe a last show ever by a band that was once great at the absolute bottom of its game), so I’m glad I can’t make it to the Juniper Tar show at Linneman’s on Saturday. Okay, that’s a filthy stinking lie. I’m crushed that I can’t make it, and there are lots of things worse. But there’s a band playing Saturday night in Chicago that is perpetually on the verge of nonexistence that I’ve been a huge fan of since I first saw them twelve years ago and this is their first U.S. headlining tour ever, so I’m going to that.

But also, I really do have a hangup, as a fan. The part about not being there to support my friends kills me, but the part about having invested a bunch of time and thought and emotion into Juniper Tar over the past handful of years only to have the damn thing end abruptly, sucks. Not as hard as it sucks for the band, I have no doubt, but still.

It’s the usual trajectory for the best rock bands in this city (see also: Decibully, The Celebrated Workingman), though: drop your best album and play a few shows, then go into hibernation, emerge months later and announce your final show with little warning. And probably feel justified when only a few dozen kooks actually give enough of a shit to show up.

Well, I didn’t make it to CWM’s last show and I’m not making it to J-Tar’s, even though I owe both bands a profound karmic debt of joy, and I’ll selfishly cling to old memories of some of the best times of my life and not let them get tarnished by the bittersweetness of watching a band I love come to an end in real time. The time they stole the show opening for the amazing Sharon Van Etten at the Pabst. The time when they played the U.S. Cellular stage at Summerfest and it seemed like they were morphing into a sick shoegaze band before our eyes.

The time they played a month’s worth of Wednesday nights at The Hotel Foster, introduced us all to Hello Death, had my wife sing with them and basically made us all feel like Milwaukee was a community and something brilliant was just getting warmed up. That month might be the only collage of memories I cling to from what would turn out to be one of the shittiest years of my life. Those nights were magic. Worlds collided. Nothing could ever compare, really; not another Juniper Tar show, not another show by anyone. So it’s for the best, you see, that I’m not going to Linneman’s on Saturday. Right?

But I did go to the final Decibully show, and man, that was a fucking incredible night. Saturday night at Linneman’s is gonna be incredible, too. It SUCKS that Juniper Tar is breaking up, but if you’re gonna be in Milwaukee, you should go to this last show. And do what I’m going to be doing at the Anathema show: Try not to think about the fact that you might never see Juniper Tar again. Just be there, in the moment, listening to a bunch of great musicians and great guys pour everything they’ve got out into a bunch of great songs. You won’t be able to escape the emotion in that room. You’ll be another lucky person keeping sweet memories of this band alive for a long time.

Comments on this article from long ago

2013-09-30 Dave Farmer
Great Milwaukee band and surely going to be missed.
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