I’m lying in bed with bare legs and a jumper that has the words Transit 2012 printed on the front. I picked it up in 2012, after seeing Transit play this blinding set in a tiny little pub in Canberra that probably fifty people were at. It was peak Transit: it was exquisite.
Transit weren’t a tiny band – they were big enough to tour Australia as Americans from Boston, off the back of three of the raddest punk records you’ll hear all in a row. But it was a Tuesday or a Wednesday night and I’m pretty sure it was winter so the fact they were there at all was some kind of magic. There was no stage; there was just us, and then maybe a metre, and then them.
I’d discovered Transit through Daytrotter, which is a super rad indie website that invites bands to play exclusive sets and has a very cheap subscription model that lets you listen to them. At the time Daytrotter had an app; now they have a festival and release vinyl (releasing massive bands like Say Anything and Counting Crows on wax.) It’s probably the best site on the internet.
They have this sick song called Long Lost Friends and I’m a sucker for anything acoustic so I listened to it a lot. (The Daytrotter version is deservedly behind a paywall; here’s the official video.)
The Canberra show was incredibly similar to that video.
I used to walk home listening to Transit. Their songs weren’t too specific; swinging between themes of gratitude and frustration. Super young, too; I doubt they’re very much older than I am (and their first record came out 9 years ago).
Joe Boynton was the singer and Tim Landers was back up – Joe kind of nasal, Tim a lot chirpier. The rest of the band delivered kind of a laid-back sound heavy on melody but not too heavy.
They were important to the scene, too. Their first three albums each built on those before to the extent that the hype around the fourth was so intense that when they released Young New England, people were angry that they’d seemed to have changed direction. They got absolutely slammed in a review by AbsolutePunk, which was a seminal music forum that isn’t really a thing anymore. It started a Twitter war.
I loved it: I listened to Young New England on the steps of the Opera House while waiting to see Wilco play, because I just couldn’t bring myself to press pause.
After Young New England, Tim Landers left the band. Then it was 2014 and they released the super poppy Joyride.
I used to drive home listening to Transit. “Siri, play Transit. Shuffled,” I would say, because they’re legit the only band with solid enough albums that you can listen to them all, shuffled, and sing your heart out in the car. And when Siri would get it right, I would sing my heart out in the car.
In 2012, for just one night, it was like Transit had taken a wrong turn and ended up in Canberra – and because that’s basically my story, too, I loved them for it. Canberra’s a place that feels like a ghost town in winter; like a pistol toting sheriff should be facing off opposite a cowboy while everyone else hides inside. The streets are bare. The air does it best to freeze your breath. The temperature drops so low that it makes my ears hurt.
It’s weird, the bands that stick to us.
It might be because they mature and take risks, each album markedly different to that which preceded it. They become signposts in your life; you don’t get bored. It might be because they seem like good people, like people whose progression you want to watch. It might be because their development mimics your own.
Bands are a bit like security blankets. Listening to music, especially live, can be when I feel most alive, and it makes me feel… alive.
Writing makes me feel all the hope in the world. Like there are only good options, opportunity, and possibility ahead.
Then when I write about music I lie awake, wide eyed, for hours afterward.
It’s weird, the bands that live with us.
I listened to Transit on a bus in rural Ecuador that wound up steep roads maxing out at 50km/hr. In potentially the most isolated place I’ll ever be: so far from home; having left everything suspended in time behind me, for just a little while.
Three weeks ago I quit the job I’ve held for seven years. “Will you have to get a new wardrobe?” asked my boss, about my new place of employment. “Well, I can’t wear this! Plus, dress for the job you want…” “You won’t be able to wear… Transit!” I was wearing my Transit jumper and my skinny jeans.
Five years ago Transit played at Bar 32 in Canberra with Harbourer and Anchors. Bar 32 doesn’t exist anymore, and neither does Transit.
Balance and Composure played in the same venue. I got a hoodie that I sometimes wear to bed. I match it with my bare legs.