To say that I’m a fan of No Doubt, while completely accurate, doesn’t fully explain the special status they have as One of the Most Important Bands in Arielle’s Musical Life.
Tragic Kingdom was the first CD I ever owned, and No Doubt was the first concert I ever went to that was of my choosing (on an unrelated note, Weezer opened for No Doubt on that tour, and Weezer would also later become One of the Most Important Bands in Arielle’s Musical Life – but more on that another day). I was 12, and my mom chaperoned me and my friend Lacey and danced and sang along with us and didn’t even flinch when, during “Just A Girl,” the crowd was instructed to repeat after Gwen,” “FUCK YOU I’M A GIRL!” (Lacey and I were a little hesitant, because cursing in front of parents is a big no-no at that age.)
Yesterday I got to see No Doubt for the 3rd time, and not much has really changed. It’s been 18 years since that first concert but Lacey was still there with me, we still sang our hearts out during “Sunday Morning,” and Gwen Stefani is still a complete and total rock star.
I almost can’t understand how Gwen Stefani is 44 years old with 3 children yet looks 27 and can still have a crazy hairdo and a funky outfit and engages the crowd with as much energy as ever. Except I do understand it, because she’s the coolest person in pretty much the whole world and it needs no other explanation beyond that.
The band’s amazing frontwoman aside, No Doubt gives me a serious case of the happies because I loved them in an era when music was so much less accessible. Today, if someone says to me, “Hey, I think you’d really like ___ band you should check them out,” I can listen to their stuff and have made a decision about them within 30 minutes. In the 90s we didn’t have Spotify or Soundcloud or iTunes. If we wanted to listen to an album we had to go to the store and use $20 of our hard earned babysitting money and then we’d listen to the CD over and over on our discmans (discmen?). If we were lucky, the liner notes contained the song lyrics, which we would study obsessively until we had memorized every last word. And then we would listen some more, because we only had so many CDs to choose from. It was a commitment that is completely unnecessary in 2014 society because there’s so much more music out there to be consumed and our attention is diverted in many different ways. I might say I “love” a band or artist today, but it’s almost never the same kind of love as the way I loved No Doubt in the 90s.
What also makes No Doubt – and probably most rock music – so great is its timelessness. “Spiderwebs” still makes you want to jump up and down and wave your hands in the air like you just don’t care because it’s a good song and will always be a good song. A lot of music from that same time period has descended into the realm of the cheesy, and while I’d still love to see a lot of it live, it would be partially to laugh at it.
Rumor has it that No Doubt is working on a new album. This is exciting because while nothing will ever compare to Tragic Kingdom, a new album usually means a tour. If No Doubt comes my way any time in the future, you can bet I’ll be there, screaming so loud I make myself hoarse, trying to soak up as much of Gwen’s awesomeness as possible.