Songs From the Lineup is a series that unpacks the musical lineup of the Life is Beautiful Music & Art Festival through individual songs by the featured artists. Look for weekly installments at dtlv.com/songsfromthelineup, right up through the festival in September.
It sucks not knowing what you’re doing. The moment I was handed a diploma at my high school graduation, my friends and family expected me to outline for them some big life plan as if it were that simple.
“Edge of Town,” from emerging Australian band Middle Kids, tells the story of a girl who is overwhelmed by everything happening on Earth. 2017 marks a time of presidential Twitter fights, millions of displaced refugees and bombs killing kids who are simply attending a concert or going to class. It’s easy to wonder about your place in all of it.
In an interview with Under the Radar, lead singer Hannah Joy explains that the debut single is about the experience of a person getting a hold on their life, but then realizing how little power they have over certain things. “And the one resounding answer that I could take is that I don’t know nothing and I got no way.” The song taps into the anxiety of not having control, but also explains that freedom can come with that realization.
The song taps into the anxiety of not having control, but also explains that freedom can come with that realization.
Joy’s voice builds and the tempo picks up as the song goes on, signifying the journey of accepting a world so often out of reach. The last two verses hold repeated phrases and a head-banging finish: “Hey, guys, I got something on my mind / Tick, tock could you take it for a while?” You can’t escape that uncertain feeling, but you can acknowledge it—and choose to let it free you rather than tie you down.
While Middle Kids is a relatively new band—its eponymous debut EP was released in February—this single has gained an impressive amount of attention, garnering more than 8 million Spotify streams. Even Elton John declared himself a fan. With its catchy melody and lyrics, the song is easy to dance to, and Joy’s lilt adds an emotionally compelling component to the work.
“Edge of Town” isn’t a feel-good tune about finding yourself, in the likes of Jimmy Eat World’s “The Middle” or Jessie J’s “Who You Are.” It cuts more into the reality of going through the motions, not knowing where your steps may lead. Accordingly, the original music video features teenagers dressed in their pajamas, walking around town like zombies until they reach a dark tunnel, where flashing colors illuminate the teens’ screaming faces.
Maybe the beauty of this whole life shindig is coming to terms with the state of uncertainty, even if there’s some grandiose expectation that it will all one day make sense. I’m just as lost at 19 as I was at 18. I may even be lost when I’m 95.
Music festivals like Life is Beautiful remind you that there are thousands of others who are just as unsure with the world and their own lives as you are. Despite having no clue, open space and music allow people to rejoice in that fear, and to take it for a while. And somehow, that makes everything a bit more OK.