Outside of music, sports have long been an obsession of mine. That’s not the most original pairing, at least in terms of areas of interest, but both have long been arenas of which I’d write more than a few glowing writeups just to gain unfettered access too.
The musical obsession is pretty straightforward - I enjoy music, it makes me feel good, as does live music, and talking to those who make it.
Sports, athletics, whatever you want to refer to them as, are a little different. Once a player is drafted into whatever professional sport they specialize in, the practice of gauging, projecting, and hypothesizing their career arc is almost instantaneous. Granted, this happens with some more than others - everyone will speculate over LeBron James’ next move and it’s impact on his legacy, but Zaza Pachulia’s next chapter will be nothing more than a footnote. Who is Zaza Pachulia, you ask? My point exactly.
The idea of following a career from it’s onset it commonplace in sports, and in all honesty, fascinating and pretty easy to do, sports expert or not. In music, however, things aren’t as straightforward. What makes following an athlete’s career easy is the sheer access to numbers - where the player was drafted, how much their contract is worth, how many points they average, their efficiency rating - there are dozens upon dozens, probably hundreds of numerical categories in which any and all aspects of an athlete’s career can be projected and pontificated upon.
If only it were so easy with bands.
Through my love of sport - and if you haven’t gathered yet, more specifically, basketball - I’ve come to enjoy the idea of projecting bands’ careers. Not in the gross “Who looks to be most fiscally promising and how can I jump on board?” sort of way, but rather, “Who does this band remind me of, and will they have a similar career arc?” In a way, I suppose it’s more like fantasy speculating, or something to that effect.
One thing that makes the practice easy is when a band comes through town with regularity - I avoid playing the fantasy band game with Nashville bands, as that’s almost too subjective to do so. But with touring bands, most of the time, there’s an objective manner to gauging where they are in their trajectory (or in less perverse terms, “journey”). Such was the case with Middle Kids, who have been on what seems like a multi year promotional cycle that started with their excellent eponymous EP, but then you realize it only came out in 2017. There's probably something to that.
When Middle Kids last visited Nashville, it was a little over a year ago, and Now/It’s was nothing more than a glimmer in my eye and a thought in my head. I was covering for Atmosphere Magazine out of Toronto, and Middle Kids had just played one of the best Conan appearances in recent memory. It wasn’t quite a sold out show at The Basement, but it was damn close. All in all, it triggered the ensuant fascination with that aforementioned “trajectory.”
Fast forward to their most recent Nashville stop, with a debut LP - Lost Friends - in their attache and a year of growth under their belt, the Aussie foursome made their way up down the street to The High Watt, this time, with a sold out show. For a long time, I had always thought of Middle Kids as one of the preeminent touring bands poised to steal the hearts of Nashville, and it would appear as though they have. Rightfully so, if you ask me, because their album is INCREDIBLE. Seriously, I know I said Amen Dunes’ Freedom was one of my definitive top 10 Album of the Year candidates, but I think Lost Friends has an even better shot than that. Compound that fact to just how damn charming everyone in Middle Kids is - I mean, who takes the time to playfully admire the passing trains at the High Watt!? - and you have yourself a recipe for one hell of a promising “trajectory.”
Now, I should close by saying that my career trajectory fascination is mostly a model for online writing that I use to give some more verve to the story, but I stand by the thought that Middle Kids is about ideal a touring band for Nashville’s current tastes as any, and I suspect they’ll only continue to be in the future. Which speaking of, here’s hoping they come back sooner rather than later.