You ever get really into a band? Listen to their album for a full week? Buy a T-shirt? Even get to the point where you see them a couple times, maybe in a couple different venues? Maybe after the first album it was in a small club.
Then the second one takes off, the next tour they’re playing the bigger theaters, maybe even arenas. The albums get better, their range grows, they move on from the simple material to stuff that’s more melodic while still holding onto the same feeling. It’s a natural evolution without feeling forced. They grow more confident, reach for more musically. All their albums bring you joy, and you feel like you’re part of a real cultural pivot point.
And then they drop something that sounds like something Journey coughed up in the bathtub while on the toilet.
It’s usually after they get off drugs. It’s “experimental,” in that either they just did whatever the producer wanted without question, or there wasn’t anyone in the studio to say, “No guys, that’s stupid and will be bad.” You see them on social media wearing big, weird sunglasses. You don’t even want to see the next tour, and if you do you’ll be sure to get a beer anytime they play something off of the new record.
That’s what the Chiefs look like right now.
I am not versed enough, nor do I care enough, to figure out the reasons they look like a jammed vacuum that fills your apartment with that burnt rubber smell. Everything is off. The scrambles that used to end in Patrick Mahomes making some miraculous throw that went for 25 yards now end with either a sack or him throwing to a spot that no receiver or defender can get within five yards of. If he does manage to find a receiver, they drop it. Every time one of these plays happens, you can see the Chiefs wondering if the Earth has spun off its axis. Every player freezes for a half-second after the play, as if they’re all thinking at the same time, “That’s not how this works.” They’ve all forgotten their lines.
The Chiefs used to be an unholy force that violently slashed their way down the field. Everything came in chunks at warp speed. It was as close as we would get to real life NFL Blitz. It hummed. It made for glorious television, even for a non-diehard fan of the NFL like me. It felt like what the game would look like five years in the future if it actually parachuted into today.
Sure, they beat the Giants last night. But you’re not supposed to huff and puff and be left completely spent to get past the Giants by three. You’re supposed to inhale the Giants whole and then spit the parts you don’t need back out somewhere in the third quarter and take the rest of the night off. The Giants are the feeder goldfish of the league, at least they’re supposed to be for a team like the Chiefs. You drop them in the tank, and no more than 10 seconds later their severed head is floating toward the treasure chest at the bottom. That’s how this is supposed to work.
But it’s not working. There’s a 10-minute guitar solo or some weird bridge right about the time you were settling into a hook, or a piano ballad, because the lead singer suddenly thought he was Elton John (this is not meant as Elton John slander, there’s just only one of him).
Perhaps the Chiefs just need some time to find the zest again after two Super Bowl trips and a conference championship game before that. You’d think the NFL season is the one where a team can’t get bored or pace itself, given its brevity. But it sure looks like that right now.
Anyway, I’m going to get a beer during this song.