The closest I’d ever been to the Trocadero in Philadelphia was October of 1999, when my friend Cinn and I were stood up by some goth bitch who had our tickets for the Type O Negative show. Fourteen years later, I finally got to go inside.
When I saw in December that The Sound of Animals Fighting were reuniting for a very small, intimate tour and had added an extra Philly date (the first one had sold out lightning quick), I was stoked. But first I had to beg Henry. “It can be my Christmas present!” I pleaded. “You don’t have to get me anything else!” (Of course he got me other shit too because he knows better.) The thing with this band is that they’re a sort of supergroup, so touring is hard for them to pull off, logistically. They played like 4 shows I think, in 2006. 4 shows, ever. And they were in California and Las Vegas, so…while I played the FUCK out of the live DVD they released, I never got to see them live.
I remember when I first heard about them, and it was all still a mystery then. OMG who are these guys wearing animal masks?! But then it was pretty obvious, once I heard it, that one of the “Skunk” was definitely Anthony Green, because oh dear lord, do I love that man. Circa Survive pretty much got me through one extremely suicidal summer, and to be honest, it’s a miracle that Henry and I are even still together. I often wonder how much worse off I would have been through times like those if I didn’t have music to stave off a portion of the mania. I know that sometimes people will hear “screamo” (we’ll just call it that, even though it’s not what TSOAF is), they don’t understand the appeal. “How can you listen to something when you can’t understand the words?” Or “this music doesn’t make sense to me.” Right? I can’t speak for everyone who likes this sort of music, but for me, it’s always been about the way it makes me feel emotionally and mentally. The screaming mimics what I sometimes feel in my head, like a mental gang-banging, and it is extremely cathartic and exhilarating for me. And then the music itself is so chaotic and janky, it’s like it understands me. And I understand it. And really, that’s the best way I can explain it.
But then with a band like TSOAF, you get the beautiful, clean vocals as well, from Matthew Kelly, Rich Balling and Matt Embree, and it just ties the whole thing together into a pretty bi-polar package.
BUT I DIGRESS. You probably aren’t here from some boring post-hardcore lesson, so I will save the rest for my Dear Diary and just tell you about how miserable Henry was all night. Yay!
The drive there was very uneventful. It started snowing literally the moment we pulled out of our driveway, so the first hour or so of the trip was terrible.
I made Henry listen to all kinds of music that he hates, like Gem Club. He kept being totally dramatic about it, pretending to nod off. “Please make me more depressed than I already am,” he mumbled, so I tweeted all of this and then Gem Club favorited it. This is how I make connections on Twitter, you guys.
We ate lunch at a shitty rest area where Henry bitched about having to buy me Starbucks and the fact that Auntie Em’s was out of pretzel bites.
We were one of the first 10 people in line before the doors opened because I was in A Mad Hurry. Equal Vision announced on Instagram last week that each TSOAF show was going to get its own t-shirt design, but only 100 each would be printed. My TSOAF hoodie is one of my favorite pieces of merch ever, so I was determined to get one of these fucking shirts. So we stood in line with all the other die-hards, and I realized that I hadn’t been that close to the front of a concert line since 2001 when my friend Shawn and I got to Nick’s Fat City 3 hours early for a Cold show. When I told Henry this, he just rolled his eyes. Because he’s too old to give a fuck about these things. Don’t ever get old, you guys.
“There’s Anthony,” Henry said, elbowing me as Anthony Green and his wife Meredith walked down the sidewalk. HE IS SUCH A GOOD WINGMAN! Also, LOL forever at Henry unwittingly knowing so much about the scene.
The doors eventually opened a little after 7 and I made a beeline for the merch booth, where, for the first time in pretty much ever, I got to tell the merch girl that I needed a size small. (Only because it was boy sizes, though; don’t worry–I’m still semi-chubby.) Anyway, thank you Henry for not ruining my night by being a total tightwad! I love this shirt so much!
I’m learning how to smile naturally.
Perhaps at this time I should talk about how, in Henry’s eyes, I fucked up. In my haste to get the hell out of the house Friday morning and embark on our road trip, I left my wallet on the coffee table. I knew that I had the tickets, and that’s all that mattered to me. Forgot the hairbrush? Pfft, I’ll just send Henry out to buy a new one in the morning. Forgot the gift I was planning to give our Philly friends Terri and Christian the next day? That sucks, but I can just mail it when we get back. Forgot my wallet? NO OVER-21 ENTRY FOR ME.
This isn’t something that I give a shit about, but the thing is, that’s the trade-off for Henry going to these shows with me: I (sometimes) will abandon all of the action in an effort to make Mister Miserable a little more comfortable in the grown-up area. Like the one time we went to see Pierce the Veil at Mr. Small’s and Henry’s stupid stomach hurt him so I was like FINE WE CAN GO TO THE BALCONY and literally it was me and a bunch of motherfucking PARENTS. So lame.
The Trocadero has a beautiful balcony, but it’s off limits without an ID. I told Henry he was welcome to go up there once the show started, but he was all, “NO JUST FORGET IT” which tells me he was secretly having a nice time. Or just wanted something to bitch about later.
The opening band was Unwed Sailor. Henry hated them because god forbid, there is no singer, OMG. I thought they were nice and soothing, an appropriate precursor for what was to come.
We were standing near the door to the backstage area, so Anthony walked by us a few times and THEN HE AND HENRY EXCHANGED PLEASANTRIES AND I COULDN’T STOP LAUGHING. It is endlessly funny to me when Henry makes contact with people in bands that I like, because:
- it’s Henry
- it’s Henry saying hello to people way cooler than Henry
- it’s Henry
And then he gets all embarrassed when I make a big deal about it and that just fuels the laughter.
After Unwed Sailor played, I said to Henry, “You know, I’m not saying I’m going to be one of those pushy moms, but if Chooch ever decided to be in a band, holy shit I would be the proudest mom of all time.” I paused for a second, mulling it over, and then added, “But just to spite me, he’ll probably be something dumb. Like a doctor.”
“I would be happy if he became a car mechanic,” Henry weighed in. “Something that’s useful to me.” Seriously? By the time Chooch is an adult, Henry’s not going to be driving anything but a Hoveround.
Around 9:30, the lights went out and the intro started playing while silhouettes of orange and yellow people were ushered onto the stage and place in various positions of worship around Matthew Kelly, who then sang one of my favorite TSOAF songs of all time, The Heretic. And here is where I began to openly weep. And I didn’t give a single fuck either because I knew every single person standing near me understood.
(I AM STARTING TO CRY ALL OVER AGAIN AS I TYPE THIS IN MY OFFICE-THING.)
So here is a video that some guy took from the sold-out show the night before. He recorded the entire intro, so it doesn’t really start until about the 3:30 mark, IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN WATCHING IT. (I do highly recommend that you do though, because it’s beautiful. However, be warned that it fades right into the next song which is scream-y. This was the point in the night where the crowd fucking EXPLODED and Henry was probably like, “Oh, how I love these shows.”)
Thank you for recording this, Guy at the March 20th Show.
After the final note of The Heretic, the rest of the band came out and Anthony Green vomited screams all over our faces and I wept even harder, because ANTHONY GREEN. I have a framed picture of him on my fucking wall, for Christ’s sake.
Please excuse my terrible pictures. I am not a concert photographer and was way too busy freaking the fuck out to worry about getting the perfect shot.
I didn’t get a chance to look at Henry’s melting face at all because we weren’t standing near each other by the time TSOAF came out. Some tall douchebag had planted himself right in front of me so I moved up some. I don’t think Henry gave a shit; for all I know, he had gone up to the balcony. THAT’S COOL, BRO.
It felt so good to hear Anthony scream, made me feel warm and safe like being hugged by a fat grandma. His stage presence is incredible. When I asked Henry later on if he agreed, he reluctantly said yes.
I’ll tell you one thing, there was some mad respect radiating from the crowd that night in the Trocadero. We all knew we were seeing something special.
The older I get, the more grateful I feel after I get to experience things, and this was definitely one for the “grateful” column. I appreciate so many bands on such a grand level that it is awe-inspiring at times to be so close to them. It means so much, but I will never be able to put it in words, not even if I made up my own language. I think I stopped making sense a long time ago.
Afterward, Professional Driver Henry didn’t know how to get out of the parking garage and a security guard had to come to his rescue. Listen to him hyuk’ing it up it this video, totally playing the “dumb blonde card” so a security guard can feel all strong and manly.
While Henry blindly navigated around downtown Philly and swore at the GPS, I cheerfully cried out things like, “THE REAL WORLD PEOPLE USED TO GO THERE!” to which he would spit, “I don’t give a FUCK about the Real World people!” Lost Driver Henry is mean.
We (eventually) checked into the Sheraton Four Points and crashed after a good hour of me relentlessly asking Henry what his favorite part of the show was. (No answer.) I can’t believe I got to see them, The Sound of Animals Fighting, right there in front of me. Oh my god, oh my god. What a great fucking night!