Halfway through the song "When I Was in ___," it hit me—the goose bumps formed, my spine slightly shivered, and (embarrassingly) my eyes began to swell just a little bit with tears—this would be the last time I'd be seeing Juno live. Again.
The band is one of my all-time favorites; they've remained a constant on my ever-evolving top-10 list, holding that honor since I was about 19 years old—it was their live performance that was always the clincher. Sadly, they disbanded in 2003, but just a couple months ago, I became the happiest girl in the universe when it was announced that the defunct-for-three-years outfit would be reuniting for two shows (both KEXP benefits). On Saturday and Sunday, December 9 and 10, it finally happened—Juno took the stage.
Over the course of the two nights, the band filled the hour-plus-long performances with favorites like "Covered with Hair," "The French Letter," "Killing it in a Quiet Way," "You Are the Beautiful Conductor of This Orchestra," "Help Is on the Way," "Venus on Ninth," "All Your Friends Are Comedians," the DJ Shadow cover "High Noon," and the epic and infamous show closer "Leave a Clean Camp and a Dead Fire."
"I had a surprisingly nice time, I think we all did," says Juno frontman Arlie Carstens the afternoon after Sunday's show. "It was nice to be revisiting some of those songs and it was fantastic to be in the company of my bandmates again. After making music together for nine years, it really is like a family. It's all the good and bad and in-between."
Carstens, who currently lives in Los Angeles, made a number of trips to Seattle for band rehearsals leading up to the main events. And as the date drew nearer, he says, there was some anxiety.
"We had a lot of anxiety that was born primarily from wanting to get the songs right, but also wanting to be able to improvise and mess around with the songs the way we always did."
And now that the shows are done, I asked him what Juno's future looked like—if this reunion was just a passing comet.
"As of right now I have no idea," he laughs, "and that, at least for now, is a better answer than absolutely not. We touched on that idea, but really our focus was on doing this, fulfilling this responsibility."
While the band's future may not yet be completely decided, one thing is certain; the past week will be officially documented with a DVD in the future. A camera crew hung out with the band for the week of the shows and not only recorded both performances, but also captured some behind-the-scenes material and interviewed band members and friends.
The continued support still surprises Carstens. "We've been amazed [by people's excitement]. We've almost found it hilarious—that's crazy, like who likes 13-minute long songs? That's just nuts! But with absolute honesty, we were all really taken aback and appreciative."