The day Steve Albini changed my life

I only conversed with Steve by email a few times and met him once but that was enough to make a lifelong impression on me.

It was my birthday in December 2015, and I got into the workshop to find an email from Steve Albini saying they'd (Shellac) like to do an instore in my shop that Saturday in 2 days. To say I was excited would be an understatement. I'd done hundreds of instores with lots of amazing bands, but this seemed..... special.

I quickly worked out the details with Steve and Bob (Weston) via email and did a quick basic poster and announced it on social media. 

I had full production and a stage and all the amps anyone could possibly want but their "wish list" was basic and easy. Steve said, "I can use any small tube amp and 4x12 cabinet" and Bob requested an "svt3pro (svt4pro preferred if there’s one handy, but the 3 is fine if not) and I can use the TYM 610". I had a full drum kit set up for instores but Bob asked, "Can you get us cymbals and a snare drum (13” piccolo, ideally - but a 14" will work)" and when I offered a rider they said "cold water is great, thanks"

They were landing at about 2PM and had to soundcheck down the road at 4PM so they said they could drop in, play a few songs and answer a few questions and sign some records.

People started gathering at the shop in the morning and by about 1PM it was pretty packed. The shop could uncomfortably hold about 150 people and I'd had instores with more before, but this was really starting to get tight, probably closer to 200 now. At about 2.30 someone walked in and said "your friends are coming up the street" I went out to help as they were carrying guitars, pedals and some drum stuff but all three declined and said "we carry our own stuff"

I got Steve, Bob and Todd up to the stage and asked if they needed anything. They had a quick look around and said they were fine, thanks. I went and got them some bottles of water and then hung around in case they needed anything. Within a couple of minutes Bob says over the PA "Are there any young people here who can't come the show tonight?" Lots of hands shot up and Bob said "all of you guys come down the front"

They then exploded into the first song. 

I stood there next to Bob and watched 14, 15-year-old kids stand a meter from Steve and Bob playing full tilt Shellac and it was ..... inspiring. Overwhelming. Exciting. It was special.

They played for nearly an hour and a half, had Q&A's between songs and joked and gave it everything, which was amazing considering they had another full show that night. Then they packed up, got some photos with people and signed some records and picked up their gear and walked off down the street. 

It was amazing. These guys had flown into Brisbane (from Japan I believe) and given up 2 hours on tour to play a free show in front of kids and adults and ask for absolutely nothing in return. My instores were always (mostly) inspirational and special but this just seemed more so. It was one of the most unselfish and generous acts I'd ever been involved in, and I've been involved in a few. It was what true, honest music does for the world. Makes it a better place without asking for anything in return. 

I emailed all three guys a few days later to thank them for what they'd done, and Steve said "It was our pleasure. You've got something special going on there" That experience kept me going for years and still inspires me to try a little harder when I need to. 

I'm listening to that instore as I type this and it was as good, or even better than I remember. 

RIP Steve Albini. You changed my life with the records you recorded, but, you changed it more by being someone who believed in a little music shop in Brisbane and supported our scene in a very special way. My heart goes out to your family and good friends. 

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