If I had had an older sister, she would’ve taken me to concerts, lent me books, and maybe bought me beer (if I promised not to tell Mom). But I’m the eldest of three siblings, and so came with it the burden of growing up alone.
Though we’re nearly eight years apart, I’ve always wanted to be that cool older sibling to my younger sister. So I flew home from Seattle for her sixteenth birthday to take her to a Belle and Sebastian concert.
Actually, the show was her suggestion, and she’d even convinced Dad to buy us a pair of scalped tickets. I was just thrilled that she was showing interest in music that wasn’t Owl City. Weeks before the concert, I emailed her Mediafire links to my favorite Belle and Sebastian albums. I sent her a Facebook message the moment I found out the band’s newest album leaked.
When I asked my mother what I should get Olivia for her birthday, she said, “Just get her something that you would like. You two are so similar, she’ll like anything that you get her.”
Which is true to an extent. Olivia and I are alike, only she’s better than me at everything I was good at when I was her age — writing, art, even video games. So I bought her a comic book I had read recently, which she accepted with a hug and a polite thank you.
When we got to the Chicago Theatre, she asked if we could stop by the merch table to buy a t-shirt. I swooped in and offered to buy it for her, not realizing they were $30. I winced as I fished a twenty and a ten out of my now-empty wallet.
I asked her if she wanted anything to drink, but she just replied, “No thank you, I’m only 16.”
We were seated in the front row of the mezzanine, looking out over the audience and the dozens of cellphones and digital cameras that were recording the show. I made a comment about how dumb it was that everyone was filming the show on their crappy phones. What do people even do with that footage anyway?
Then I turned and saw that Olivia was recording with her camera. She texted and took photos throughout the entire show. She seemed bored, but I figured that’s just how kids were these days. Always texting.
I tried to keep her attention throughout the show by saying really interesting things like “This is the third track on Tigermilk” and “There aren’t usually drums on ‘Piazza New York Catcher.’ ”
I asked Olivia which songs she wanted to hear in particular. She named a few, but was really hoping to hear “If You Find Yourself Caught in Love.” I thought it would be unlikely, since it was toward the end of Dear Catastrophe Waitress, but I was grateful when the band played the first few piano notes of the song. Unfortunately, for the first minute, frontman Stuart Murdoch sang into a dead mic, not seeming to notice that the audience couldn’t hear him until a stagehand came out and handed him a different mic.
I kept thinking, Don’t ruin my sister’s favorite song, but Olivia didn’t look the least bit disappointed. She sang along during the parts we should’ve been hearing Murdoch.
Belle and Sebastian closed the concert with “Sleep the Clock Around.”
“This is the second track off The Boy with the Arab Strap,” I said.
“This is probably my favorite song,” I added. “This song is really good. I’m glad they’re playing it.”
She started filming again.
After the concert, I asked Olivia if the show was better than the Fray concert she’d been to a few months before.
“Well, you can’t really compare them,” she said.
A week later, Olivia posted a 30-second video of “The Boy with the Arab Strap” to Facebook. One of her friends left a comment asking how the show was. She replied, hahahaha the whole crowd were 20 to 30 year olds. the only person who knew [the band] was my AP world history teacher hahaha.
None of my sister’s friends knew who Belle and Sebastian were. And it became apparent that Olivia didn’t actually like Belle and Sebastian that much — but she knew I did. Among all those things my sister was better at than me included being a thoughtful, unselfish sibling. In truth, I hadn’t taken her to the concert so much as she had taken me.