Against Me!, Bleached, The Dirty Nil – Bogarts – October 3

I used to LIVE for concerts. In high school, I could go to one every night and be completely fine. Sometimes, I’d even go alone and still have an amazing time with complete strangers.

Now that I hate people and get anxiety in crowds, a lot of that excitement turns to dread the closer I get to a show.

Leading up to seeing Against Me! a friend suggested we go together, since they’d already bought tickets as well. We dished about our favorite AM! albums and tracks, and she shared with me that Bleached was another band she was excited to see that night. This all helped assuage my nervousness.

The Dirty Nil were the opening act for the night, and while many times during shows, that’s a time to mill and mingle, I truly wanted to watch the performance. As my friends said, “They have just the right amount of high school angst.” They were engaging, loud, and confident.

The Canadian alt band just received the 2017 Juno Award for Breakthrough Group of the Year. True to their name, they thrive on a dirty, crunchy sound that still manages to stay tight. Their songs alone don’t do them justice – it’s their live stage presence that really makes them great.

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Cincinnati tends to have some pretty dead and uninspiring crowds at shows, and I was surprised to see that during The Dirty Nil, there were people nodding along to the music, truly listening, not just standing there glassy-eyed.

I knew I was fucked after listening to their set, because this meant I’d be buying merch from every band that night.

Bleached took the stage next, and we were all excited to see what they had in store.

Sisters Jennifer and Jessica formed Bleached in 2011 after their band Mika Miko ended in 2009. To me, they’re a mix of grunge and punk with an unapologetic 90s vibe and killer hooks.

Jennifer once said in an interview that their producer told them they could go as hard as they wanted on songs because their hooks were so catchy. I feel like that defines a lot of their catalog.

Unfortunately, though, the sound quality really bummed me out, because I had a hard time distinguishing Jennifer’s vocals from the instruments. I’d catch about every 3rd or 4th word of her songs, but their energy alone kept the gig afloat. Later on, my husband added that it might have just been some sort of sonic black hole that we fell into based on where we were standing in the room. Bogart’s is notorious for spotty acoustics.

At the end, Jennifer traded spots with their drummer and the band continued tearing it up – proving that they’re multi-instrumentalists (or amazing at faking it) and that they really know how to end their set.

I ended up purchasing both Ride Your Heart and Welcome The Worms on vinyl from Jennifer and Jessica at their merch booth. I HATE meeting bands that I enjoy because all I can ever muster is a “Thanks! You’re amazing!” No, but really: they are.

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Normally by the time the lead act comes on for the night, I’ve been miserably shifting my weight from one foot to the other, waiting for hours. But given the performances from the opening acts, it seemed like the night flew by.

Against Me! took the stage, with “True Trans Soul Rebel”, and it only got better from there. Their set list was a great mix of almost every album, with tracks ranging from “Miami” to “333” to “Sink, Florida, Sink”.

This is the third time I’ve seen them in concert, and over the years they’ve just gotten more impressive. My husband Brandon and I both noted that Laura Jane Grace seems SO much happier than the first time I saw them in concert years ago. She’s finally able to be herself, and it shows in her body language, stage banter, and general performance.

Another highlight for Brandon was Atom Willard’s unrelenting drumming. I couldn’t overlook Inge’s boyish smile the whole time – he legitimately looked thrilled to be on stage, and he was so fun to watch. James Bowman is the anchor of AM!, though. His backing vocals and solos really shine and you can tell that Laura and he have a great trust and rapport, often switching off seamlessly. After all, James has been with Laura since AM! started.

While we loved every original song the band played, a surprisingly emotional moment happened when they busted out a cover of recently-deceased Tom Petty’s “Running Down a Dream.” Damn, they really did that song beautiful justice.

Truly, the night couldn’t have been better for us. The crowd didn’t behave like a bag of dicks, the bands had incredible enthusiasm and passion, and I learned I should definitely get my ass to more concerts.

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Black Me Out – Against Me!

Anytime I see a band live, I go through a period of “withdrawal,” where I play their songs over and over. And over…and over.

Since seeing Against Me! on June 27th, two songs have stuck in my head: “Because of the Shame,” and “Black Me Out.”

The latter is obviously what this post is concerned with.

When I was a teenager, I *felt* so much. I was like that rando that popped up in Mean Girls, but…ANGRY.

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If I heard a song that resonated with me, I would find myself screaming out the lyrics. Which, as I alluded to in my post about the Against Me! show, I haven’t done in quite some time.

Laura Jane Grace has been quoted as saying that “Black Me Out,” is one of her current favorite songs to play live. And it’s so easy to see why!

Regardless of your station in life, we all go through periods where we’re “reclaiming” ourselves. Where someone, or something – a seemingly evil entity – has snatched up your very being and toted it around in their pocket. Eventually you fight your way back, and there’s a period of frustrated empowerment. You make promises to yourself that you hope you won’t break, vowing to never let something like that happen again.

ANYWAY – this song is the anthem to that feeling. It’s such a difficult emotion to describe.

But, seriously, how can you not relate?!?

I don’t ever want to talk that way again
I don’t want to know people like that anymore
As if there was an obligation
As if I owed you something

Black me out
I want to piss on the walls of your house
I want to chop those brass rings off
Your fat fucking fingers
As if you were a king-maker
As if, as if, as if
Black me out

I don’t want to see the world that way anymore
I don’t want to feel that weak and insecure
As if you were my fucking pimp
As I was your fucking whore

Whiney-Time Sounds

Sometimes I’m a sad kid.

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No, not quite like that.

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There. That’s better.

ANYWAY…

These are my favorite sad-time tunes. The ones that I ugly-cry to, and the ones that I get all angry and self-righteous listening to. They range from bratty teen anthems to songs that I’m proud to listen to.

Don’t judge. You have a sad-time playlist too. You just aren’t brave enough to publish it.

1. Jesus Christ – Brand New
Whiney-Time Lyrics: Do you believe you’re missin’ out? That everything good is happening somewhere else? But with nobody in your bed, the night’s hard to get through.

2. They’re Not Horses, They’re Unicorns – Bayside
Whiney-Time Lyrics: You’re pulling at your teeth and I’m the Novocain you pump in your cheeks. Thats why I’m still around, you’ve got blood running down your chin.
But you suffered peacefully. She was a termite eating away at my roots. I was just a lost soul who needed a home. I was filling a void with you. And I, I can’t, can’t wait until you’ve see see seen what depth and disgust has done to me.  And I spent three years wishing for two things: that one day you’d break, and I’d get to see how all the choices you made would drive you insane. I wish we never met.

3. Ghost Town – First Aid Kit
Whiney-Time Lyrics: I swear I can be better. I could be more to you. But there are things that lie in my path, that I just have to do.

4. I Can Feel Your Pain – Manchester Orchestra
Whiney-Time Lyrics: Cause I can feel your pain, in my bones, in my bones. I was scared to call your mother for news that you weren’t getting better. Well my God, what the hell am I supposed to do?

5. Don’t Wanna Be Your Girl – Wet
Whiney-Time Lyrics: I don’t wanna be your girl no more, no more. I just wanna see your face at home…I’m not living right so I decide that: I don’t wanna be your girl no more.

6. Playing God – Paramore
Whiney-Time Lyrics: If God’s the game that you’re playing, well we must get more acquainted. Because it has to be so lonely to be the only one who’s holy.

7. My Special Moment – The Vandals
Whiney-Time Lyrics: This is my special moment. Don’t question me or disagree. I know that I have earned this. Dammit I deserve this, do not fuck with me. It’s my special time.

8. Far Behind – Social Distortion
Whiney-Time Lyrics: With friends like you, who needs enemies? You ain’t right, you ain’t never gonna be…You shake my hand, while you’re pissing on my leg. I’m cutting you loose, I don’t need this misery.

9. Born to Die – Lana Del Rey
Whiney-Time Lyrics: Don’t make me sad, don’t make me cry. Sometimes love is not enough and the road gets tough; I don’t know why.

10. Cath… – Death Cab for Cutie
Whiney-Time Lyrics: And soon everybody will ask what became of you: ’cause your heart was dying fast, and you didn’t know what to do…The whispers that it won’t last roll up and down the pews. But if their hearts were dying that fast, they’d have done the same as you. And I’d have done the same as you.

11. Ache With Me – Against Me!
Whiney-Time Lyrics: Your voice echoes in the back of my mind. I see your face when I close my eyes. Do you share the same sense of defeat? Have you realized all the things you’ll never be? Ideals turn to resentment, open minds close up with cynicism. I’ve got no judgement for you – come on and ache with me.

12. Paper Bag – Fiona Apple
Whiney-Time Lyrics: Hunger hurts, and I want him so bad, oh it kills. ‘Cause I know I’m a mess he don’t wanna clean up. I got to fold ’cause these hands are too shaky to hold. Hunger hurts, but starving works, when it costs too much to love.

13. Singled Out – New Found Glory
Whiney-Time Lyrics: I figured all the years we shared were proof enough to extend my hand and help you. I know that getting started can be rough. Enthused smile, you seemed grateful – I felt good about myself. That’s until the day you showed me you don’t need anybody else. Why’d you have to go and make me say these things about you? Why’d you have to turn around? After all that we’ve been through…

First Album Love

Whenever I find an artist, I always look through their entire catalogue, afraid that I missed something pivotal.

But I always end up coming back to the first album I heard by them. Even when I know it isn’t their best work, it still manages to be my favorite.

Case in point?

Alkaline Trio – Crimson
Social Distortion – White Light, White Heat, White Trash 
Rancid – Indestructible 
AFI – Sing the Sorrow
NOFX – The War on Errorism
Every Time I Die – The Big Dirty
New Found GlorySticks and Stones
The Black Keys – Magic Potion
Against Me! – Searching for a Former Clarity

Okay, I think I made it clear.

For some reason, there’s a thrill and memory associated with when you fell in love with an artist. Even if, in your heart, you know it isn’t their best work, the first album you hear will always shine brightest. Some of my best memories were made listening to these cds. I still remember being in middle school and buying, White Light, White Heat, White Trash at FYE and listening to it on my Walkman in the car on the way home. I was so excited to hear those songs, and to find a new sound that I’d never known – a sound that no one around me in suburban Indiana had known.

That sparked my love of Social Distortion, who were my favorite band for years. I even remember going to see them in concert and teachers from my high school were at the show. We had more in common than we’d initially realized, and even though they were my instructors, I considered them friends.

I can pinpoint the moment I heard the opening riff to “No Son of Mine,” from Every Time I Die’s The Big Dirty. The same car trip that inspired my love of ETID fueled my passion for Against Me!. I was on a trip to Bloomington to suss out IU with some friends, and they played Searching for a Former Clarity. “Miami” stuck with me. I can remember subsequently going into Shake It Records to buy copies of both albums, and being ridiculously excited.

A friend burnt Indestructible for me in high school. In all reality, she was a bully that I didn’t really like, but I befriended her to avoid conflict. I asked her to burn cd’s for me that I didn’t have the money to buy. At the time, Tim Armstrong’s voice was worth putting up with her. I listened to that album on repeat while mowing the lawn at home. It was the soundtrack to many a summer sunburn.

As I tried to distance myself from the bully girl, I found myself going to the local library to get albums and burning them to my computer. That’s where I scrounged up Magic Potion and countless others. Surely the librarians knew that when I checked out STACKS of cds, I wasn’t just taking them home to listen to. But they never said anything.

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It’s not like all this pirating was for nefarious reasons. I was a high school kid who was sonically starved and something had to feed that addiction. At least I was nerdy enough to hang out in the library instead of other places.

More than any other, I remember my first New Found Glory album. I’d been bullied A LOT by a jock in middle school. He would harass me virtually every day, and the teacher didn’t do anything. I was angry, hurt and felt violated. My mom knew about it, so when we went to Bigg’s one evening, she bought me Sticks and Stones. She gently asked me if I liked it when I took my headphones off briefly in the car.

Even though I was a shitty, bratty, angry teenager, I appreciated her act of support. She felt helpless watching her daughter be picked on. But she knew what made me feel better and wanted to supply that to me, even if she didn’t fully understand.

The main thing that ties all of these albums together is that they served as different milestones for me. Whether I’m embarrassed to admit that I like those artists or not, I can’t forget the effect that the music had on me. It served as my therapist, my solace, my friend, my ammunition.

I think it’s incredibly important to pay homage to the albums that inspire us and get us through rough spots. There’s no reason to feel sheepish when an artist or album resonates with you. That means there’s a chord to be struck, and not everyone has that depth or emotional awareness.