Beats and Baskets: There’s Nothing Like A Hometown Hero

Justin Scott // Columnist

There’s something special about seeing someone from your hometown make it big. It’s even more special when you grew up with them. Whether it’s an athlete, musician, actor, politician or other notable personality, we tend to see ourselves in those we share roots with.  

Last Friday, local breakout band Peach Pit played a sold-out show at the Vogue. This show was extra special for many in the audience since they knew at least one or several members of the group. They grew up with them, went to school and parties with them and still see them occasionally. To see the people you spent your formative years with rocking one of your city’s most storied venues is hard to beat. 

It’s no different for athletes. Whenever an athlete, no matter their sport, returns to their hometown, they’re usually greeted like family. Or, if someone can represent their hometown by playing for one of their city’s teams, they become an ambassador and often a hero. The best recent example is LeBron James ending Cleveland’s championship drought by winning the 2016 NBA Championship with the Cleveland Cavaliers. 

But why is seeing someone from your home on the big stage such an experience?  

It’s because it’s hard not to see a little part of yourself in them. To know that even if you grew up in completely different areas, never shared any of the same friends or have any other connection, you’re still from the same place and the same community. 

I was a young kid who loved basketball. During an era when some of the greatest players to ever grace the hardwood were in their prime, the majority of Vancouverites donned Steve Nash jerseys. My basketball club made annual trips to Seattle to see the SuperSonics host Nash and his Phoenix Suns. He’d often come out after the games and talk to us and answer our questions. Nash was a hero to many. 

It’s people like him who prove that “anything is possible”, in former basketball star Kevin Garnett’s words. If a relatively short guy from Victoria can become a two-time NBA MVP and almost win an NBA championship, you can certainly succeed in your goals as well. This truth is driven home, even more, when you see those you know succeeding.   

When someone you grew up with finds success pursuing their passion in such competitive industries like the music world or professional sports, it makes you feel like there’s no reason you can’t do whatever it is that you want to do. They’re inspiring and give hope. While many musicians and athletes already do this, if they’re not from your hometown, you don’t have the same connection with them. 

Perhaps the only thing more exciting than seeing those from your city on the big screen is seeing their journey to get there. High school athletes starting to generate buzz, or local bands building up steam, offers the excitement that only seeing potential come to fruition can give.   

Seeing Peach Pit at the Vogue was a special experience, but what makes it even better is the fact that many in attendance had been to a few of their previous shows at much smaller venues. To be able to see them find their sound and grow as a group both musically and in terms of success just gives even more context to where they are now – and that’s something that only someone from their hometown could have. 

There was a moment at the concert last Friday that exemplified this better than words could. As the band played their song, “Tommy’s Party”, their parents, whom they had already pointed out and thanked earlier in the night, could be seen dancing along in the venue’s upper balcony. The thing is, many of the attendees didn’t know their parents because of the band’s praise earlier that night. They’d known them for years. At school events, time spent at the band members’ houses as kids or getting rides to or from sports games, these parents had been in many of the fans lives far longer than Peach Pit has existed. That’s a connection that can’t be beat and will never be broken. It’s connections like this that make homegrown talent so special and exciting to see.   

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