Henry and I had a date on September 27th. Of course, it was doing something that only I wanted to do, but he surprisingly didn’t try even once to get out of it. I think he’s losing his will, you guys.
He’s got no fight left in him.
Our date was a night of music that Henry only has a marginal dislike for at the Smiling Moose. I think he was OK with it because the Smiling Moose has a lot of beer that he likes, plus we were eating there too — something for him, something for me. After 13 years, I’m finally learning about compromise.
Yeah right! I love the Smiling Moose just as much. They typically have more than one variety of cider and their food menu always has veg options. That night, I got an amazing grilled cheese with apples and caramelized onions and Havarti…just the most perfect pre-show food. So good. I had candied onion sauce dripping down my wrist and my second glass of cider had me convinced that it was OK to lick it right off myself like I’m some fucking wild animal, post-kill in Africa.
Henry had a panini, maybe? No, that doesn’t sound like Henry. Probably just a burger. And he was mad because I ordered a beer for him that he knew he wasn’t going to like but was too weird to tell the bartender that.
Also, my favorite bartender was working.
By the time we ventured upstairs for the show, the first band was nearly done. They were local and I never caught their name, but I liked them a lot. The singer/guitarist had gingery Coheed and Cambria hair and was just a complete a psychopath up there, crashing into the wall and engaging the small crowd.
(Best/worst thing about Smiling Moose shows: always a small crowd. This is great for me because I can get super close without worrying about dying, but it’s sad in the respect that these amazing bands are here playing for next to no one. Sometimes I forget that some of the music I like is just not really popular at all.)
Their bassist was a girl that never moved or smiled. I kept seeing her walking around throughout the night and she was blanker than Henry’s shirts. I think the crazy singer might have been her boyfriend, and if so, wow what a strange coupling.
The second band that played was Save Us From the Archon, also local. I’ve followed them for quite some time on Facebook, so I was stoked to finally see them. Henry was like, “Oh great, one of those non-singing bands.”
So the three main bands on the Blue Swan Tour were Hail the Sun, Stolas, and Icarus the Owl. There’s this whole sub-genre/movement of post-hardcore that has been growing over the last few years, and I really believe that Dance Gavin Dance spearheaded it. And actually, the Blue Swan record label belongs to Will Swan of DGD. So now there’s like this entire family of bands that share a similar sound and they’re all friends and they’re all awesome. And that’s really all you need to know about that.
The reason I was there that night was Icarus the Owl. I’ve had a mild interest in them for awhile, but after seeing them last July with Artifex Pereo, it was all heart-eyes for days. They were just so good and fun to watch! So when i saw that they were coming here, I told Henry we were going and he just bowed his head because he has no argument anymore. Man, they opened with “Blackfish” and I was like FUCK YES and Henry was like IDGAF and the singer from that first band rushed the stage in a very THAT’S MY JAM!!! fashion. If anyone in that room had been nodding off prior to this, they were wide awake now.
These guys have quickly moved their way into my Top 10.
I was forced to talk to the singer, Joey, later on when I went over to buy a t-shirt. I get so fucking weird about meeting bands. Even when I was a super slut and majorly outgoing, I would still clam up around certain bands because I hold so many of them on such a high level. So I get a little awe-struck around them, OK? Sue me. Anyway, first I was like, “Hi I would like that shirt there in a medium” and then while he rummaged around for it in a big Tupperware bin, I rehearsed something substantial to say, and when he turned back around with my second choice t-shirt, I faked enough confidence to say, “You guys are the main reason we’re here tonight.” He put his hand across his chest and said, “Aw, thank you so much!” and it was super genuine, I could tell. There was good eye contact. Not like when I would try to tell Jonny Craig how much his music touched me and he would stare off over my shoulder and make no attempt to even pretend to smile or be grateful.
“We saw you guys a few months ago in Cleveland with Artifex Pereo,” I said without stuttering—what a feat! “You guys should tour with them forever!”
“Oh, we just love them so much!” Joey gushed. “They’re really good friends of ours! They’re actually on tour right now with Emery and—–” Joey paused, trying to remember.
“Norma Jean,” I offered. “That tour sadly isn’t coming here,” and then I made some stupid exaggerated sad-face which I wish I could go back in time and take back.
After Joey asked for our names and shook our hands (like Henry even deserved the acknowledgment!), he gave me some wristbands and then I pretty much ran away.
“What did you say to him?” Henry asked when we reclaimed our spots near the stage.
“NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!” I cried. But then I told him because I wanted to know how lame I sounded. Henry just shrugged and said it was fine. I’m learning how to talk to people, OK GUYS?! Step off.
All of this happened after Stolas played. Stolas was the only band that I didn’t know too much about, other than Jonny Craig was featured on one of their older songs. They were GOOD, you guys. I liked the faces the singer made every time he screamed; it was like twisted anguish. So emotive and raw, just like their music. I think my favorite part was when Donovan from Hail the Sun jumped up on stage (after he was standing right next to me!) and sang with them and everyone’s heads exploded, except for Henry who was just like, “OK.”
And then Hail the Sun. This was the third time we’ve seen them (and apparently the third time they’ve been to Pittsburgh so we’re like accidental super-fans, I guess). Once was with Dance Gavin Dance and the second time was on one of Jonny Craig’s solo tours. The first time I saw them was also the first time I had heard them, and while I liked their sound, they never really became a band that carved its way into my playlist. But lately, I had been listening to them, REALLY LISTENING TO THEM, and even though Henry was like, “We’re leaving after Icarus the Owl, right?” I was finding myself getting increasingly more stoked for them to start playing.
Their singer Donovan is also their drummer, JUST LIKE PHIL COLLINS AND GENESIS OMG. But Donovan occasionally will abandon his set to take center stage and really fucking sing and I like when that happens because he makes Crazy Eyes while he’s up there and that is also how I noted that he resembles Breakfast Club-era Judd Nelson, an observation with which Henry vehemently disagreed.
I will leave you with this video of snippets. (Unfortunately, I forgot to get a sample of Stolas. I really don’t like being That Person who is holding up her phone all night!)
The next day, some guys started hearting all of my Instagram pictures and videos from the show, and then he started following me. “I was there too!” he commented on one of my videos and Henry was like, “THANK GOD MAYBE YOU HAVE A FRIEND TO GO TO SHOWS WITH NOW.”
But then the guy’s profile said he’s only 14 and I don’t know guys, that might be too young. LOOKS LIKE YOU’RE IT, HENRY.