#696: Confession

TRIGGER WARNING:  Emotional material ahead.



GETTING MORE TALE #696:  Confession

Music is the most wonderful of hobbies.  Scratch that — it’s not a hobby when you love music.  It is your lifestyle.  It’s healthy, it’s fun, and it can open up feelings you didn’t know you had.  I’m glad that music is my life.

As much as I cherish music, and try to spend some time with it every single day, there is one huge hole in my life:  The concert experience.

You could argue that music is best enjoyed at a good concert.  There is magic in a live performance; a kind of telepathy that occurs between the players on stage.  Then their collective sound and vision is pumped at 120 decibels to the hungry audience.  The crowd is like a single entity with one voice.  There is no substitute for the live concert experience.  No Blu-ray could ever hope to match it, not even at 1080p with 5.1 surround sound.

Yet, I’ve seen only a few dozen concerts over the years.  I can’t even remember my last one.

I would love to have new concert reviews for you every single week.  The most popular post on this site in its six years of operation is a concert review.

It’s true that I don’t get out as often as others might.  Some of this is because my beautiful wife has been battling with uncontrolled epilepsy for the last decade.  Her health struggles have turned me into a bit of a homebody.  I’m not complaining.  Being her support is a privilege.  I’ve always been a bit of a homebody, but it’s certainly gotten worse as her health got worse.  The good news is that not only has Mrs. LeBrain beaten cancer, but she has also managed to reduce her seizures to one or two a week.  A regular week, anyway.  A week with stress or lots of travel can cause more.

How has she managed to handle her epilepsy so well?  Lots of self care.  Plenty of pre-planning for every outing, a few taxi cab rides, lots of caution, and a little bit of Canada’s best prescription marijuana.  I’ve seen it work.

She can’t go to movies and she can’t go to concerts, and we’ve accepted that.  It hasn’t been easy.  When Jen worked at Research in Motion, their free company concert was U2 in Toronto.  She wanted to go so badly.  She was willing to go blindfolded if she had to.  Every U2 Blackberry ad on TV was a bitter reminder that Jen could not do what other people take for granted.

But that’s no excuse for me missing out on shows.  Maybe I lost my concert wing(wo)man, but I’m a grown up.  Right?

So we get to the crux of it:  my confession.

I’ve never really gotten into any of this in public before.  A few friends know.  I’ve lived with it long enough.  I used to care what friends, random strangers, or potential future employers would think of me.  I was ashamed of myself.

Over the years I’ve developed a severe fear of crowds.  It’s always been there, but it got a lot worse in my 20s.  If I was with people I knew and trusted, I could control it.  I first confessed my fear of crowds to T-Rev back when we were roommates in 1998.  He used to like to go clubbing at the Flying Dog up in Waterloo.  I went with him twice, and it was OK.  I had a good enough time.  But I needed my wingman.  T-Rev was wise.  “The best way to beat your fear of crowds is just to face it.  Try to have fun.”  He’s right to a certain degree.  The Flying Dog just wasn’t the best place to try and beat a fear of crowds.  Packed with douchebags and girls that I thought were way too hot for me, anxiety piled up on top of more anxiety.

I did better at small concerts.  There was a joint in town called The Banke.  A lot of our friends played there.  The more often I went, the more comfortable I was.  You start to recognise other faces, and familiar faces and places are soothing for anxiety.  It was good while it lasted.  T-Rev’s life path took him to a lovely wife and two kids, three hours away in Sarnia, Ontario.  He was a good wingman, because he understood me.

Having a wingman is really important.  A few weeks ago I went to TF Con in Toronto.  My buddy Jay asked me, “So how does this make you feel with your fear of crowds?”  I told him it didn’t bother me at all because he was my wingman.  (Also it’s not a very intimidating crowd.  I could bowl them over with a sneeze.)  I’ve had a panic attack at a farmer’s market, but not a TF Con.

There have been a couple incidents that happened at concerts.  Jen had a fall at Rush — that one was upsetting.  She had a seizure at Trailer Park Boys, which was the last time she went to any kind of show.  The association of these events with concerts just made me…more sour.

When Jen got sicker and sicker, so did I.  I became a tense, nervous mess, and it was almost all the time.  Something had to give, so when I couldn’t take it anymore I sought help.  Family and friends made sure that I did.  It took some pushing, because I am stubborn by nature.  Help is available, but you have to work at it.  Medication doesn’t fix everything, and it has its own costs on both your body and your wallet.  You have to unlearn what you have learned.  Then, you have to practice better ways of dealing with situations.  It’s hard work.  It’s also life long work.  You will stumble and there will be pain.

In spring 2016 I was in Ottawa visiting family.  By coincidence, both the Killer Dwarfs and rock journalist Mitch Lafon happened to be in town that weekend.  The Dwarfs were playing the Brass Monkey, and Mitch was going to check them out.  Knowing I was in town, Mitch asked me if I wanted to come and meet him at the show.

It’s painful remembering this.

Of course I wanted to go see the Dwarfs.  Of course I wanted to meet Mitch!  I have been a fan of both for a long, long time!  Mitch is the premiere go-to guy in hard rock today.  Not only would it be a personal thrill, but meeting Mitch and taking a selfie with him would have been a fantastic bonus to top off a Killer Dwarfs concert review.

I turned him down.

Out of respect for the man, I told him the truth.  I wasn’t prepared to handle a crowd that night.

Mitch promised to keep my secret, and he’s been really supportive to me.

It might be frustrating for some, but it helps me a lot to deal with anxious situations if I know in advance, and I can prepare myself mentally for it.  I admit I can be very frustrating sometimes.  I’m lucky that Jen gets me.  She’s one of the only people in the world who truly gets me.  Jen and my grandmother really know how my brain works.

It barely works, but it works!

I have my ups and my downs, and it’s largely dictated by how I respond to daily challenges.  I confess that I have not tried to challenge myself in a long time.  When was my last concert?  I used to love going out to see stand up comedy, too.

I’ve been itching to see live music again.  I think I can handle it.  I’ll go slow.  I won’t start by going to see Bryan Adams at the Arena.

Something smaller and more local would be good.

Hey!  Would you look at that?

It looks like I have to be ready by February.  Sasquatch is coming to town!  Sasquatch: The Opera that is, composed by Roddy Bottum of the band Faith No More.  Four shows, February 14th through to the 17th, 2019 at the Registry Theatre in Waterloo.  And I happen to know the promoter.  I’ve been promised an interview with Roddy about the musical, and ideally I would like to see all four shows.  I’m not worried about the interview, but I do need to beat my anxiety to go to the shows.

This is called having a “S.M.A.R.T.” goal.

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-based

Is my goal specific?  Yes.  I want to see the Roddy Bottum show.  Measurable?  Yes.  It’s as simple as go/don’t go. Achievable?  I believe a realistic goal would be to make it to, at minimum, one of the four shows.  Bonus points for anything more.  Is my goal relevant to my situation?  Absolutely.  It is a big part of it.  And is it time-based?  You bet.  Can’t procrastinate on this one, February is gonna come one way or the other!

I’m hoping to have Dr. Dave or Uncle Meat as wingmen for a show.  Dr. Dave is, in fact, a believer in the real Sasquatch!

I believe in baby steps so I think a good plan would be to try and see a small show in advance of the Bottum musical.  It’s exactly like building up a tolerance.  My tolerance has slipped a lot over the years so I have to build it back up again.  I’m trying to be proactive.

That’s my confession, and I have to admit, it really does feel good to get it out!  Did I have to do it publicly?  No, but I’m sick and tired of lying to people every time the subject of concerts comes up.  Here’s the truth.  Think whatever you want to.  All I really want to come out of this is somebody out there to read it and say, “Hey, I get it too.”  There are bullies in the world who would pick on me if they read this.  I don’t care.  They can pick on me for a lot of things already.

I accept that crowds and I might never be good friends.  I just want us to get along.


  1. Absolutely appreciate where you’re coming from mate. Anxiety is unfortunately a menace for many of us, myself included. Why and how we deal with that varies but would expect many wish they could open up more about it, and kudos to you for doing just that!

    All the best moving forward :)

    Liked by 2 people

  2. My uncle suffers from this. No reason to be ashamed, it is a common thing. Everyone is afraid of something that doesn’t make any sense. I’m afraid of any social situation I’m not prepared for, and can come off as an asshole probably because I don’t want to talk to whoever it is. Sometimes I’m better than others. I don’t mind crowds, but I hate groups of people. They all get this herd mentality and become douche bag cliques, and turn against anyone not in there group.

    Don’t let anyone tell you you’re weird or let them bully you. They’re probably just too afraid to face their own fears and make themselves feel better by taking it out on you.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yeah don’t get me started on small groups of douchebags. I’ve seen it happen where you can have a nice group of people, and then you add one douchebag. Suddenly the whole group transforms into douchebags.


  3. So brave of u to share that. Thank u. Luckily there are tons of live dvds and concerts on youtube. I’d go with u if I was on your continent. Been to thousands of concerts but lately losing my interest to go. I’d rather stay home and be with my family. I’m rooting for u to ace this Sasquatch thing.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Anxiety issues are much more common than people thinks and kudos to you for putting it out there in the open. From the responses, you can see you aren’t alone. There have been situations where I have had similar anxieties, especially as a teenager after enduring three years of bullying hell. I have been to concerts on my own where there was the odd occasion I was considered to be ‘Billy No Mates’ on account of me being there alone. It can be daunting. However, in my 20’s, I discovered that marijuana can be an aid to reducing anxieties, not that I am advocating drug use. Go and enjoy Sasquatch.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know that my wife finds that it increases her anxiety. She needs to get used to it a bit more too. Everybody reacts differently to it. The stigma does not help people from feeling anxious.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for sharing this Mike. I think you had alluded to this before when I was talking to you about gigs. Definitely nothing to be ashamed of or keep secret. I hardly go to gigs anymore and I don’t even have a reason… I just can’t be arsed! It’s a shame you had to miss out on stuff like meeting Mitch.

    Good luck with the Sasquatch thing and the Roddy interview, that’s mega exciting!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I hope Mitch and I will eventually cross paths, he gets around a lot. He’s not far from Ottawa and I know he goes to gigs there frequently.

      Missing Sebastian Bach when he was here last month kinda sucked. But Uncle Meat heard he was kind of a dick and took people’s phones away when they took pictures.


  6. Nothing shameful there at all dude. Mental health is just the same as physical health.

    If you couldn’t go because you had a broken leg you wouldn’t feel ashamed.

    Anxiety is very real and just as important as any other health condition if it impacts your life.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It sure does seem like a really wise group of people here. It’s not easy to talk about stuff like this because of the stigma…but now it’s out there. Once it’s on the internet it’s there forever.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Amen to you brother for telling your story. You are not alone in the anxiety issue as it is so common nowadays and needs to be talked about more than it is. I will be rooting for you and the Sasquatch show…you can do it. Thanks for sharing your story Mike!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks man! I’m excited about my plans moving forward. Uncle Meat usually has small gigs in town. It would be cool to check out his band. He’s also been singing with Max the Axe and I’d like to see that too.


  8. Nothing to be ashamed of brother!
    Family always comes first! Does your town do any free outdoor events. Here in town every Wednesday night during the summer the City puts on a free show that runs from 6-9pm. Free admission…you bring your Lawnchair and find a spot…you can move wherever you want and come and go as well… Me and Sue always go the first two Wednesdays were rock stuff and this past week was our local symphony etc…
    Small steps buddy …
    Wish you Well..
    Kudos for bringing it to light but you know that this community has your back!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We did have a free concert last month, the Beaches did a free show downtown. It was a weeknight, and I didn’t want to try to make my way downtown (construction zone) plus our downtown isn’t the kind that attracts the kind of crowds I wanna be around.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. You were my wingman as well…whether you choose to believe it or not, you helped me as much as I possibly helped you. I can’t say I understand what you go through, but I can say you have it in you to beat it. It’s like… Riding a bike, the first time I tried it, I was terrified. Am I going to get hurt, what if people laugh at me if I can’t do it, etc etc etc. But once you fall a few times, realize that it doesn’t hurt that bad, and other people are trying to learn as well… It gets better. The people that ridicule you aren’t worth a toss anyway… Who cares what they think? They are insecure about other things. They just strike first so you don’t find out what theirs is!
    All I ever wanted to do with you, was get you to try new things… Push your comfort zone a bit, so you would see its not scary. Like the movie “yes man”…try saying yes to things you would normally say no to…you will be amazed at what happens.
    I understand that the anxiety is sometimes uncontrollable, but ultimately it’s your brain…you are the boss! It’s not hereditary, it’s developed. And if it’s developed, it can be “undeveloped”
    That’s just my opinion…I am no doctor, of course!

    You should go see a show, but I guess that’s easy for me to say.
    Chin up buddy!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep you said it…I can unlearn what I have “learned” and this is no different. Having a plan and a generous time frame helps. I’m gonna do this! Thank you for all the help and encouragement!


  10. Hey, I get it too. You’ve known me for years. Mine isn’t crowds though. It’s trying new things. For example I’m going to be staying in Toronto for a week in September for some training. I’ve been fighting with the anxiety since I signed up. I tease you about your clothes, your driving and your dolls you got at TF con but anyone who teases or makes fun of you for anything that is actually serious isn’t worth your time. Keep up the rocking Bud. Write about what you can and don’t worry about anything else.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. “Dolls”…you dick! LOL

      Yeah a work trip like that wouldn’t be my thing at all. I’m glad I haven’t had any major ones. I had a trip to CAF USA back in 2011 but that was it thank God. I know Paul has a week in Iuka coming up…well several weeks in Iuka over the next 6 months. He has a handle on it but I wouldn’t wanna do it. And he’s the one who has 4 kids!


  11. I knew of this, and it’s OK Dude. I remember I mentioned going to see Priest in Orillia, even sit at the back near the doors to get out if need be, and it’s still OK to not. This is a thing you don’t have to do, even if you may really wanna, you don’t have to. Besides you’re not wrong, crowds suck, especially as the night goes on and they get drunker. Honestly, the best crowds are metal crowds, I’ve always found them very respectful, for the most part. Go metalheads!

    As for being a homebody, we’ll fix that – Taranna is next Sunday!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Taranna is on the horizon and I’m looking forward to it! I was in Toronto last night and will be again today…family member in the hospital…but I have her blessings to go with you next week. She doesn’t want me to miss it. We’ll nail down the exact details later on when I know exactly what’s going on.

      I’m not a fan of drunks. Especially as it gets later and they could louder.

      My mission next week is to get some more Styx studio albums on CD…new or used.


      1. Right on, we can work to schedule whatever – we’re free all day! I know BMV doesn’t open til 11:30 or something silly like that, so we’re in no rush to be early either. Last time, Dad and I had lunch before even starting the shoppes.

        Funny, even when I would have a couple of drinks myself, I never liked drunks. Many of them seemed forced, trying to be drunk. And the ones truly drunk just passed out – actually, I liked them. They were quiet.

        Styx! I will also keep my eyes peeled at work. Email a list of what you need. I see them often enough.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. It’s actually much easier to just send you the list of Styx I have! Because it ain’t much. Consider this part of the simultaneous Gowan mission.

          I have The Mission, Kilroy Was Here, Equinox, and Brave New World. That is it for studio. For live I have only Styxworld 2001. And Greatest Hits, we don’t need concern ourselves right now.


  12. Michael, you deserve a lot of credit for sharing this. I think that shows that you really want to beat this. And don’t forget that I am your wingman(woman) for Sasquatch. I really want to go with you. Hopefully you will be able to go to all of them. I know you will have lots of friends out there that want to be your wingman.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I’ll be an additional wingman if you pay for my plane ticket to Canada (joking unless you wanna!). Faith No More has been one of my favorite bands since I first discovered them. They’re also one of the few bands where I like or love every single album they ever did, including AOTY and both Chuck Mosley albums. Mike Patton’s attitude of poking at the audience and existing to anger them by coming up with the weirdest shit you could possibly think of made me realize that I love that type of art. Art that hates being labelled as art, and attempts to escape this label by subverting the formula and angering audiences in the process. FNM, Mr. Bungle, Andy Kaufman, Bobcat Goldthwait, etc. The guys that people either get or viciously hate. I’d love to see what Roddy’s warped mind has conjured up. I wonder if he’s doing any dates here in flyover country of the United States? If not, maybe I’ll hitch hike up to Canada and I can pitch a tent in the street.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The only one I still do not like is AOTY. I’m glad you do like it though. When it came out I found it way too “downer” for me and I never really warmed up to it. I think some of the B-sides were quite good. Light Up and Let Go was cool.

      I know Roddy’s musical has something to do with Sasquatch and a meth lab. Of course.


      1. It is probably my least favorite, and was a drop in quality after Angel Dust (a desert island disc for me) and King for a Day. Some of the AOTY stuff doesn’t connect with me, but Last Cup of Sorrow is one of my favorites by them, and I also like Stripsearch, Collision, and Ashes to Ashes quite a bit. I think the problem is that when you’re on a winning streak that includes stuff as good as The Real Thing, AD, and KFADFFAL, there’s no way your next project could match up.


  14. Thanks for sharing Mike – I like the Sasquatch s.m.a.r.t. plan & I’m confident that you’re going to be able to make it happen.
    And based on all the comments, I think you’re going to find all kinds of support from the community!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. A fear of crowds is nothing to be ashamed of, anxiety is a bitch. I wish you luck at achieving your goals because nothing compares to live music.


  16. Hey Mike, I think it’s incredibly brave of you to share something this personal publicly and getting help for something like this is just the right thing to do.

    I’ve never had an issue with crowds, I go to a lot of my gigs on my ownsome – I like it, you get to concentrate on the experience without distraction, you don’t have to worry if anyone else is having a good time and I usually end up chatting to folks anyway. In fact I quite like becoming part of a crowd with a common goal/experience.

    My anxiety? parking. I love driving but I get really bad parking anxiety, especially if I’m going somewhere new – daft isn’t it? but it really just jangles my jinglies. It’s just the way I’m wired, I know it isn’t logical and have to work around it as best I can.

    Other than that, I’m quite obviously perfect in every way.

    Small steps work, they really do.


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