SNOG – “Old Atlantis” (1999)

This was it, this was the song. The first dance at our wedding, but also one of the first songs I danced to my with my future wife. I convinced a DJ friend of mine at the club my girlfriend/future betrothed frequented to play it, despite it being a total floor-killer. We slow-danced, entangled together. I felt we were alone, luxuriating in the club’s limelight.

It was magical.

You can’t ask for a better moment than that.

(Yes, I realize that we were dancing to a nihilistic anti-capitalism song in a queer club that didn’t prioritize cleanliness, and that was perfect for us.)

“Old Atlantis” — via the album Third Mall From the Sun — is absolute bittersweet melancholy with amazing vivid imagery. The build is incredible; it’s an intensely emotional song. I’ve never heard anything quite like it, and I doubt I ever will again. It’s a singular work, something that works with the cadence of a quintessential prom song but also feels like it shoulders the weight of the outside world.

I cannot emphasize how much this song means to me or the feelings it evokes in me. The aural punctuation — the fire — in the latter third of the song devastates me every time. You’re encircled in an audio attack while the two of you are holding each other tightly, protecting each other through the aural maelstrom. It’s exhilarating, and then the clocks descend and the house lights flicker awake, and you can let loose your breath.

For as sensitive as this song is, Thrussell himself? Not so sensitive when initially dealing with fans. SNOG performed at a tiny-ass club just a stone throw away from us in Chicago many years later, and while buying merch, my wife and I gushed to him as to how much “Old Atlantis” meant to us, how much we loved the song, how we knew immediately that it would be our first dance for our wedding, and how formative his work was for us. He essentially hand-waved us away, which hurt, but we rolled with it because we knew this kind of shit can be tiring when you’re on the road! One of these days I’ll recount our times as bookies.

However, his partner later elbowed him into seeking us out before the show and he did apologize and thanked us for our kind words, which meant the world to us. Also, he is a consummate performer, and the show was incredible.

It’s not often you get to meet the artists who move you, who create indelible life moments, much less get to personally interact with them and, while that experience was a bit of a rollercoaster, it’s a memory I’ll always cherish, although not as much as our first dance.

“Let’s do it. You and me. Let’s do it. Together. Let’s. Burn it. All. Down. Again.”

I’ll close this out by noting that one of the most often exclamations I hear from folks are: “You used to be a DJ?!” I don’t know why, because hasn’t everyone considered themselves a DJ at some point in their life? (That said, unlike most, I was paid for the privilege.) Anyway, every time I’m like, just wait until you find out my wife and I had our own club night for years, and that we both helped to set up a collective to book underrated electronic bands. We’ve done a lot! We spent our twenties exactly how you should: by throwing around money you don’t have and shouldn’t be spending on efforts that very few folks will appreciate but will be extraordinarily memorable for those who do attend!

I’d be lying if I didn’t say that SNOG wasn’t a major impetus for that; I wasn’t exaggerating when I said SNOG was a formative work for us. We earnestly and honestly wanted to bring the same feeling we had with “Old Atlantis” to others, and we did all that we could to do so.

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