[Editor's Note: Long-time concert photographer Andrew Youssef found out two years ago that he had stage IV colon cancer. In that time, he has continued to shoot tons of music events, on top of other freelance work and working a day job at a hospital, of all places. As he continues to fight for his life, this series allows him to tell his story in his own words.]
I met with my oncologist yesterday for our monthly meeting. He asked about my energy level these days. I explained that I was pretty exhausted from getting chemotherapy on Wednesday and then working Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday for ten hours at the hospital. I slept most of Monday and would have slept in longer if I didn't have my appointment with him on Wednesday.
Knowing my background as a concert photographer, he also asked if I had any exciting shows coming up. My response was that I was taking the next flight to San Francisco to see one of my favorite bands, Quicksand, at Slim's as part of the Converse Represent showcase. My oncologist smiled and chuckled, knowing that it was just another typical "adventure" in my storybook.
Quicksand is a band that resonated strongly with me when I purchased their album Slip back in 1993. When I get sick from chemotherapy, I dose myself with some medications and pull up a chair in front of my guitar amplifier and play along to the album to help take my mind off things. It is the best therapy and treatment for my cancer, as far as I'm concerned.
Quicksand was always one of those bands like the Smiths that I never would have guessed to reunite. My mind was blown when I managed to see their surprise reunion show at the Glass House. I seriously could have died a happy man at that point. My speculation that they would play FYF Festival turned out to be correct and then they announced a short reunion tour where I managed to catch them in Los Angeles, Pomona and San Diego.
I was fortunate enough to meet guitarist Tom Capone at the show in Pomona and was able to give him my information to stay in contact. When I went to see Quicksand in San Diego a few days later, I had a backstage pass and was able to talk to Tom more and explained about my ongoing battle with cancer and how much Quicksand's music meant to me. It was another life-affirming moment that I will never forget.
Due to the band members busy schedules, I figured my streak of Quicksand awesomeness would end, but to my surprise they announced a show in San Francisco. I emailed Tom once again asking whether their were any more plans to play in California, to which he stated that San Francisco would be the last one of this year besides some European festival dates. While I was perfectly content about letting the good memories prevail with all the shows I saw, the other part of me had a desire to fly up and see them.
Listening to Quicksand all those days I was working didn't help the situation, and I decided at the last minute to book a flight to see them, as who knows when or if I will be able to do so again. The whole bill was stacked, as High On Fire brought out some sludgy guitar work and Mastodon ruled with the riff majesty. But when Quicksand came on, I was elated and immediately started to sing along -- which is something I never do at concerts.
During the song "Too Official," I was on the verge of breaking down, crying tears of joy as I've played the riff so many times and it has helped take my mind off my horrible disease. As crazy as I know I am for flying everywhere at the last second to see my favorite bands, if I could bottle that energy and adrenaline from that moment I know I would live a long time. Special thanks to SF Weekly photographer Christopher Victorio for playing host, Ashley Purdam and Quicksand for a night I will never forget.
See Also: - Last Shot: A Concert Photographer's Battle With Cancer - Last Shot: Helplessness Blues at a Fleet Foxes Concert - Last Shot: Chemical Warfare Takes Its Toll - Last Shot: Photographing Coachella with Cancer is Like Running an Ultramarathon - Last Shot: Time Is Running Out - Last Shot: Chemotherapy Leaves Me Seeing "Stars" With Hum - Last Shot: Battling Cancer to Shoot the Red Hot Chili Peppers - Last Shot: Telling Your Friends You Have Cancer - Last Shot: The Time Juliana Hatfield Made Me Forget I Have Cancer - Last Shot: The Difficulty Of Updating Friends About My Health - Last Shot: The Roller Coaster of Cancer - Last Shot: Working a Steady Job While Fighting Cancer