Rock is all in your head

I am having withdrawal syndromes from really, really badly wanting to attend a massive rock concert, but not having any taking place near where I am.

During the weeks leading up to finals week, my roommate and I would both be at our desks, with our books and laptops in front of us, completely meaning to do homework. Neither of us are talking, both just really absorbed by our work; then my roommate would turn around, look at my laptop screen, see my headphones, and go, “Chooi Yen! Do your work!

Because I would often just end up watching concert videos on YouTube. One video after another. Can’t stop. No control. Must… have… more.

I swear, I am in dire, DIRE need of some rock-out time.

The other day, it so happened that I was the only person in my apartment (mates have gone out for a movie), and everyone else in my dorm had gone home for winter break.

I was alone. I saw it as the rare golden opportunity to enjoy proper music the way it should be enjoyed.

On some good speakers. Booster. Audio levels turned up.

It was an awesome night.

I miss that — letting out and singing along to some good rock songs. Dancing. Jumping. Air guitars. Headbanging. All that stuff I used to do in my room back when I was 15 and weren’t worried about playing music too loudly.

I’d been very restrained here. During the semester, I never played anything too loud for fear of disturbing my neighbors. I’d go and borrow some real quality headphones from the library, and listen to my music loudly through those. I’d sing along, but it’s not the same. I’m always singing, everyone in my apartment and their mothers hear me sing, especially in the showers (literally, their mothers heard me when they came to visit). I’d bring my laptop in to the bathroom with me, put them on the counter of the sink area (don’t worry, it’s safe), hop into the shower, and sing my heart out. But it’s not the same. The music is never loud enough, you’re not feeling that ooomph.

So that one awesome night, when I was alone, I played music till the walls vibrated.

I miss good, simple, powerful rock songs.

People in my apartment, I love them, but I hate their music tastes. They play a lot of club hits, a lot of hip-hop, Top 40’s stuff. LMFAO, Lil’ Wayne. I can listen to those when I’m club-dancing, but seriously, every now and then I crave some good solid rock meat-and-potato songs to wash out all that clubbing chips-and-candy junk from my system.

Radiohead has been my go-to band when I need to fall back on some quality music, but the problem is they are so… perfect. Like someone went over their songs and took out all the imperfections. They’re intense, but quietly so — kind of like a bubbling pot of something awesome cooking over the fire, hitting boiling point.

Lately I’ve been rediscovering louder things — some all-out, solid, good ol’ rock. No digital. No computerized anything. No perfection. Just a lot of rawness, imperfections. Distortions. A lot of unadulterated guitar. Banging the shit out of the drums. Solid loud yelling till your neck veins bulge. None of that quiet bubbling stuff. Rather, something so hot that it shoots fireworks, if you will. Something only a rock concert can achieve.

Foo Fighters’ latest album played live is so fucking awesome, it fits the bill to a T. Anything played live by the Foo Fighters is awesome.

For the past couple of years, I’ve been listening to a whole lot of electronic stuff, and a ton more of folky things. I especially listen to a lot of folk rock. My Top 25 Most Played playlist is topped by Radiohead, Simon & Garfunkel, Moby, Imogen Heap and Damien Rice, in that order. Basically, electronic, folk, electronic, electronic, folk.

Back when I was 14-ish, I had a lot of the compulsory teenager staple albums like Sum 41 and Linkin Park, but I used to listen to a lot of CDs I’d burned of songs that were some variation of grunge, metal, and punk. Adema, NOFX, Chevelle. At one point venturing into Slipknot. And at 15, I discovered Marilyn Manson, and I fell in love with his music. People give him a lot of shit, some friends here make fun of me for having liked him, but honestly though, if you look past his costumes and theatrics, dude’s older albums are quality music.

I think, at the end of the day, I’m still that 15-year-old kid who locks herself in the room and puts music on at full volume; who plays air drums and headbangs and jumps around until she runs out of breath.

In recent years, if you walked past my room here, you’re 10 times more likely to hear me play folk oldies like Bob Dylan or Simon & Garfunkel, than anything hard rockish.

A few weeks ago, my iTunes, which was set on shuffle, started playing a Taproot song. Taproot is grungy and metallish, I was into them 8 years ago. I have moved on since. Ordinarily, I would skip it, move on to the next song. But that day, I was busy typing an email or something, and so I listened to the song in its entirety. It got me all excited about that kind of thing again, got me really… energized? And since then, I’d been getting back into that stuff I used to like a long time ago.

That night that I talked about, when I was jumping around alone in the apartment, making that vein in my throat throb along to every lyric that I yell out, I felt like the 15-year-old me again. Relishing my aloneness, taking comfort in knowing that I can go all out, and no one is there to see my craziness. No embarrassment.

Good songs do that to you — you can’t sit still. You have to sing along, move your head, drum your fingers.

I need to go to a rock concert again.

The last one I went to was a Sum 41 concert in Paris this past February, and it was ridiculous. They’re the kind of band that appeals to 16-year-olds, and that was how old I was when I liked them a lot. I went to the concert for old times’ sake, but I honestly felt like I was part of the oldest 10% of the crowd. Everyone else seemed to be 16-year-olds. Probably just discovering Sum 41 music through their newer albums. Fucking annoying little shits who were more occupied with taking videos on their damn camera phones and showing aggressiveness than in actually enjoying the music.

It was so ridiculous, it was the first time that I’ve ever felt scared for my life during a concert. At one point, I was crushed from both sides so badly that I couldn’t breath, and started panicking. I almost lost my shoe, and more worryingly, my balance. I ended up yelling at my friend to get out of there and pushed our way to the sides. Only time in my life I’ve ever pushed my way away from the stage. Within the first 10 minutes of the show, too. Ridiculously aggressive moshing in a Sum 41 concert? A pop-rock group? Are you kidding me? And there were really young kids in the crowd, probably about 11 or 12, who were being unwillingly pushed around. Any person with half a brain would know how dangerous it is to be moshing against tiny kids like that.

(This always reminds me of Chevelle’s song, Forfeit, mocking the aggressiveness of concert goers. It goes, “I want to fight, I want to fight, I want to prove I’m right.” Idiot moshers need to calm down.)

But it’s all well, at least I got to see play live. Now I can put them aside and move on. I haven’t even bothered listening to their newest album.

That is not the point. The point is, I think I was getting more concert opportunities in Malaysia than in freaking Iowa. How is this so?!


Somewhere during our drive to Cherokee Nation, at a time between the 10 hours after the start of our journey in Iowa and the 2 hours till our destination in Oklahoma, we drove past vast open land.

We’d been listening to playlists put together by all of us specially for the trip, but after 10 hours, even the catchiest, most exciting song turns into day-old soda — flat and unappealing.

The sun was setting, most of us had just awakened from car naps, and conversation slowed to almost a lull. We were driving past vast plains, there was nothing outside to distract us. No bright lights, no billboards and advertisements, no brightly-lit stores. Just the open flat lands, the odd clusters of trees, and the soft tangerine glow of the sun dipping below the horizon.

R. Kelly’s “I’m a Flirt” was playing for the millionth time that day, and I remember thinking, this is not working. Twilight moments like this need twilight-moment worthy songs.

So I plugged in my iPod and played this one song. Someone went, “Yes, this is perfect.”

Someone else agreed that it is, indeed, the ideal sunset song.

This song needs to be heard on a pair of headphones, or on quality speakers.

It is not a song to listen to when you’re pressed for time, or if you’re feeling impatient, or if you feel like singing along to something.

It’s not a song to listen to with friends, or to play at a party, or to dance to.

It doesn’t get your body into any sort of rhythm, it may not even make you smile.

But it’s the kind of song that, if you listen to it under appropriate conditions, if you allow it to, will envelop you, engulf you in its sheer haunting beauty.

It detaches you from your surroundings, hauls you to a place so far away, so you feel alone, close to nature, a solitary You in a tranquil, serene world where no Other exists.

Jump off the end
into a clear lake

No one around
just dragonflies
flying to the sides

Often, towards the end of the song, I find my breathing stilled. It’s as though you drift along with the music, willingly wandering off to the depths of nature, far beyond human reach, to a realm of very delicate, dreamlike beauty; and earthly, corporeal needs such as breathing, talking, swallowing (of saliva lol, I accidentally drooled once while listening to this) do not matter.

Slide your hand
jump off the end

The water’s clear
and innocent

And towards the end, the determined piano strokes taper off, leaving a medley of bird tweets and bug chirps to permeate the space, filling your mind with vivid images of a lush tree canopy that opens up to reveal the sparkling waters of a carefully tucked away lake. And after a whirlwind of an ethereal journey, there you are, transported back to earthly reality.

You need to listen to this, it’s a favor you need to do for yourself.

Like all moms are required to repeat time and again — don’t try, never know.


Help me answer this question please!

SUM 41 is playing in Paris this weekend. Ohmygawd yes it’s true!!

Should I go?? The entire trip would cost a little over RM500, and IES Nantes (our study abroad program) have already bought us tickets to attend a classical music concert on Saturday. But my excitement level for seeing some group playing Beethoven = 1. Excitement level for seeing Canadian band playing music I’ve been listening to for the past 8 years = 10!

This is one of those times I wish that I were rich. Or that I was studying in Paris. Or that Paris and Nantes aren’t so far apart. Or at least, that SUM 41 would just come play in Nantes.

Half a thousand ringgit for one night in Paris, my mom would not approve.

In Rainbows

I am feeling rather melancholic.

It’s not like I’ve been hanging around a lot of people lately, since I’ve been quite busy with my finals, but at the same time I’m feeling very tired whenever I am around people.

Go listen to Radiohead’s “All I Need”. How the heck is it so beautiful?

This reminds me of a conversation I had with my floor leader last year. He said doing weed makes you philosophical, and certain music can really enhance the experience.

I’ve never done it, but if I were to smoke to an album, “In Rainbows” would be so perfect.

I put it on replay all night. Why is it so breathtaking?

Hide and Seek


I was reading my previous post, and I realized I shouldn’t have written what I wrote the way I have written it.

Like, when I said sociology majors are very vocal but art/history/science majors cannot talk about what their subjects in regular conversations, it sort of came out wrong.

What I meant was, sociology people have the opportunity to talk about sociology things because sociology is about society (lol yeah duh). Hence, just by interacting with people, just by being a social being, you are constantly reminded of what you studied and thus end up always making sociology-related statements (that may or may not annoy people, who knows).

I of course don’t mean to say sociology is better or what.

* * * * *

Today something damn funny happened.

I was at the Driver’s License Office this afternoon, to take the written test, so that I can get a permit to practice driving, so that I can take the actual driving test at some later time.

Everyone there were either 1. some young teen eager to start driving, or 2. a parent.

Except me, 21, turning 22, there only to take written test for a learner’s permit.

Anyway there was a teenaged boy at the counter, and the lady at the counter asked him the standard questions, “Do you have any physical disabilities blah blah blah?”


“And do you have any hearing impairment?”

Before the boy could answer, his mom said loudly from 10 feet away, “YES HE DOES. He never listens to what I say!”

I was LOL and ROFL on the inside!

Then the lady asked the boy for his weight. Then his height.

The boy gave her his height, which was 6-foot-something, and his mom said in a skeptical voice, “Oh really. Are you sure?”

And one time, I dunno what the lady at the counter said, but the mom went, “Yeah. We always thought he was the weird one in the family.”

LOL such a funny mom!

She was kidding la, the boy had sharp wit also, it was super entertaining watching them both.

Anyway. I passed my written exam!

Obviously it’s no big deal la, ’cause all it means is that I am now allowed to practice driving as long as I have a “licensed adult” next to me to supervise me. Ahem. I feel like such a child.

The only person I know who has a car on campus and is close enough to me that I can borrow her car to drive is someone 2 years younger than me. My god, and I have been driving longer than she has!

No matter what you say, I still think it’s sort of paiseh.

And then, after I feel like I’ve had enough practice driving on the wrong side of the road (in the U.S. they drive on the right lane), I then have to persuade / bribe my friend to come to the office with me on a Wednesday morning with her car, so that I can take the driving test with her car.

Isn’t that so ridiculous eh. You need to bring your own car for the driving test.

Okay la paiseh to say, I went for the written test last week and failed la. ‘Cause I didn’t read the practice questions beforehand and had no idea what the road sings mean. Have never seen those in Malaysia before. Very stupid of me. Also, there were ridiculous questions like, how far do you have to stay behind another vehicle? Or something. And the answer is 2 seconds. Not 1 second, not 5 seconds, but exactly TWO seconds behind the car in front of you. Of course la I fail! I’ve been driving for 4 years in Malaysia, and never once have I thought, “Oh my car is less than 2 seconds behind this person. Let me go slower now.”

Anyway. My friend texted me while I was waiting to take the test.

“I apply for a dinner with you”

“Haha okay! Tell me when you go. I’m waiting to take driving written test now hope i don’t fail lol”

“5??? i hope so too.. otherwise its a shame for all malaysians”

*I had to turn off the phone, so I replied 1 hour later*

“hohoho, of course i passed! with flying colors of course. And 5 is good of course.”

“flying colors?? u are being too poetic with the joy of passing a test that everyone passes lol see you in 10 mins”

LOL So mem-paiseh-kan, failing a written test at 21.8 years old, when all the 16 year-olds plus everyone else I know who took it passed on the first try.

But NO LAH Malaysia uses different road signs mah!

I think it will feel weird to drive on the “wrong” side of the road.

* * * * *

I am in love, in love, in abso-freaking-lutely LOVE with this song.

It holds the number 1 spot on my iTunes’ Top 25 Most Played list. And by a very wide margin also.

It’s so far the ONLY song I can play on repeat for a few hours straight.

Not my number one favorite song lah, some other songs are so intense that I only play them once, because I don’t want the “amazing-ness” to run out, if you know what I mean. I wanna preserve the amazingness.

But this song is, KABOOM!.. Mind-blowing.

The video is damn awkward though. Like a really cheesy 80’s music video. Weird lighting, awkward wind blowing, like a bad Bangles video.

But music is aweSUMM. Listen listen listen!