Sometime last month, Kurt Travis posted that he was trying to book a house show in Pittsburgh. It was an off day for the headlining solo tour he was doing and if you’re a regular reader or have the misfortune of working with me, you may recall that I begged Glenn to let me offer his house.
Spoiler: he said no.
But luckily, some guy took care of business and promoted the house show on Twitter. My emotions ran a veritable Tough Mudder.
First, I was completely stoked because I haven’t seen Kurt since the last time he was with A Lot Like Birds and I think that was 2 years ago at this point.
Second, I was overwhelmed because a house show meant Kurt would be totally accessible and you know how ridiculous I get. BANDS ARE PEOPLE TOO, ERIN.
Third, the tiny modicum of adult rationality I keep buried beneath my abundance of wanton abandon managed to surface and I was concerned for my safety because this house is in collegeland and what if it turned into a HOUSE PARTY and I get roofied? DOES THAT STILL HAPPEN? I’m pretty far removed from all of that.
Fourth, I felt preemptively self-conscious because while I don’t FEEL old, for this particular music scene, I AM old. It would be much less easy for me to blend in at a house show.
Fifth, I felt panicked because every single person I asked to go with me said no. If this show was at a venue, I wouldn’t have even bothered asking anyone. I’d have just gone alone.
Sixth, whimpering pity party sadness that Terri, the only friend I have who even knows who Kurt Travis is, lives in stupid Philly.
Glenn and Todd were loving this.
“You’ll have to show us the stitches from where they take your kidney,” Glenn said before he left work on Friday.
And Todd was all, “I used to live in Oakland [where the house is located] and nothing good happens in any of those houses.”
Oh and before you ask, Henry said no before the details of the house show were even finalized.
I had a small glimmer of hope when I ran into Blake’s ex-girlfriend Shannon at the mall Wednesday night. She is acquaintances with the guy who booked the show and said she was certain he wouldn’t roofie me, but that she didn’t know any of his friends, so…. But then she said she might be there and I got really excited so she reiterated the “might” part.
My seventh emotion was that of RELIEF on the day of the show when Janna agreed to go with me.
I made Henry drop us off there because I wasn’t trying to add the stress of parking in Oakland to my teetering stack of worries. First, I made him do a driveby of the house, which was actually a row house that seemed to have zero activity going on around it. But then we saw a group of young people (probably 21?) walking toward it so Henry was like, “Get out.”
“Not until they’re gone!” I cried. I didn’t want them to see me getting out of my dad’s car, god Henry.
It was around 7:30, so…now or ever. Janna and I tentatively climbed the steps to Planet Vegeta (lol). The front door was open so I walked in and found some guy lounging on the couch in a room that was in your standard college kid state of haphazard uncleanliness, the promise of tetanus and rodent infestation lurking beneath every casually-strewn pizza box.
“Is this where the Kurt Travis show is?” I asked the comfortable man.
“Yep, it is!” he answered not in the apathetic manner I was anticipating, but in a friendly, inviting tone instead.
When I’m nervous, self-deprecation falls out of me like hot, salty ejaculate from the mouth of a hooker with strep throat. (Sorry for the porn-fingers.) I vaguely recall saying something about being “too old for these things hahahahah *kill me*” and he just laughed and said, “Everyone is out back. Make yourself at home!”
So, narrowly avoiding kicking a soccer ball through a window, we wound our way through the kitchen and out a screen door, where KURT TRAVIS was hanging out with the other bands. Small cliques of people were sitting around awkwardly, so add two more to the awkward party, I guess!
It was REALLY uncomfortable for about the first 20 minutes. I’m not going to lie, there was a split second when I considered leaving. But then Dylan, the guy who booked the show, came over to take our money and mark our hands with a green X. Someone put on an 80s playlist, Madonna first and then The Cure came on which calmed my nerves considerably. Especially when the music stopped because the owner of the phone it was playing from had to make a call, and when he came back, someone asked, “What should we put on now?”
“I was happy with The Cure, but whatever,” Kurt said in a way that meant “PUT THE CURE BACK ON.”
(They did not put The Cure back on, but whatever.)
Then Janna was like, “I really hate to have to do this—” and here is where I thought she was going to hold up her phone and show me that her Uber confirmation because SEEYA, this scene ain’t for me, bitch!
“—-but I have to use the bathroom really bad and I’m so afraid to go back in there.”
Oh, thank god that’s all!
But then I realized that this meant she was going to be leaving me out there, alone, OMG.
A minute later she came back.
“There’s no one in there to ask,” she complained.
“OMG, just go back in and look for the bathroom. I promise you that these people give zero fucks about a strange girl using their bathroom,” I said. It was bad enough that I was already the Old Lady at the House Show. I didn’t want to also become The Old Lady at the House Show With the Other Old Lady Who Shit Herself.
And so Janna forged her way back into the house and located the bathroom without even needing a map, as evidenced by the victory text I received from her that said, “I found it. Nobody here to care that I walked up here.”
Janna, conquering frat house floor plans, one campus at a time.
Meanwhile, I was leaning against Divorce.’s van, cracking the fuck up by myself, because what a fucking night already. It’s funny how this shit is normal when you’re 20 years old, but when you’re 35, every single second of it was fucking hilarious. I kept texting updates t o Henry, Corey, and Wendy, who actually said that she would have gone with me if she didn’t have to go to a wedding. AND SHE IS PREGNANT, YOU GUYS. That is a true friend.
Then a rousing game of hacky sack started up and I was silently praying that no one would kick it to me because I am a failure at hackying the sacks.
I texted Henry, “Some guy* is sitting in Kurt’s van, staring at me. He looks like a young Charles Manson, help.”
*(I couldn’t figure out where I knew him from, because he looked so familiar. I was running down a list of bands in my head, but I couldn’t place him in any of them. Turns out he was helping with merch on this tour and I recognized him because the Blue Swan scene is so small and I’m always seeing him pop up on Instagram and Twitter because he’s friends with pretty much all of those bands. I am way too immersed in this scene, help me, I’m drowning.)
Around 8:15, divorce. was ready to start and everyone was ushered down a precarious set of spiraling concrete steps into a tiny basement, and then the night proceeded to go from 100% awkward to 100% FUCKING AWESOME.
These guys are from here (Pittsburgh), and that makes me proud because they are just the kind of passionate, gritty emo/grunge band that I find myself often craving. I’m keeping on an eye (and an ear, oh ho!) on these ones. They’re gonna go places.
I already can’t wait to see them again!
After their set, everyone retreated for the cool air. We sat down in the parking lot and Janna complained about being sweaty and wanting water. That’s not being very punk rock, Janna.
While we were waiting for Save Us From the Archon, Janna and I talked about looking for new jobs, trying to get out and do more things, and Chooch. It occurred to me that we were sitting in a back lot with a bunch of people 10+ years younger than us passing around bowls and drinking cans of cheap beer, while we were talking about grown-up life bullshit.
It’s ridiculous that this post is so age-focused but please remember that the music scene I’m into is young and I really am an anomaly.
And then Janna said, with just a note of surprise to her tone, “I liked that band! They were good!”
“Well duh, Janna. I don’t like sucky music!” scoffed my music-snob alter ego. Seriously! If people would actually pay attention to what I say, then maybe they would be listening to good music, too. NO ONE TAKES ME SERIOUSLY! #pityppartyonpioneeravenue
This was my second time seeing local mathcore favorites Save Us From the Archon. If you don’t like any music along the lines of post-rock, then you probably definitely won’t like SUFTA. Me? I think they’re brilliantly gifted musicians and, as someone who has no musical talent (save for playing the clarinet moderately well in middle school), it blows my mind watching their hands and fingers move and trying to work out in my feeble mind how they play such crazy-technical shit that makes my chest feel like an alien is about to punch its way out. It’s a frenetic, metal-tinged meltdown in all of the best senses.
(Needless to say, Henry was not sad that he was missing them. We saw them last year at the Hail the Sun/Stolas/Icarus the Owl show at Smiling Moose.)
There was a girl nearby who looked in awe and said, “OK, I am definitely learning how to play the guitar.” That made me happy.
While SUFTA was playing, the sun had set, so we retreated from the basement to an absolutely beautiful, mild night. There was even a slight breeze and it felt so fucking good after sweating in that basement. “It’s practically winter out here!” I said to the girl who wants to learn the guitar and she agreed and THAT IS HOW YOU TALK TO PEOPLE, APPARENTLY. I’m relearning these things.
Some young guy walked past us and said, “I have to sit down; my legs are killing me.”
I laughed and said to Janna, “God, who’s the old person now!?”
You guys, that’s Kurt going nuts during Adventurer’s set, no big deal. He kept grabbing the mic and singing along. It’s fucking refreshing that there is so much camaraderie and passion between bands. They told us that Kurt is their mom, which is adorable because you can tell that he looks after the young bands he take s on the road with him and I JUST WANTED TO CRY because I’m an emotional wreck even on a good day. Add amazing live music to the mix and I’m suddenly a house wife watching a Nicholas Sparks movie.
(By the way, Adventurer? They’re a three-piece post-hardcore band from Michigan. Go get stoked on them, NOW. Kurt doesn’t just take any run of the mill band on tour with him.)
Oh god, and then Kurt. I’ve seen him twice with Dance Gavin Dance, three times (at least) with A Lot Like Birds, and once by himself when he was on Jonny Craig’s solo tour in 2012, but none of those times even come close to being as perfect as this was. It doesn’t get much more intimate than seeing a singer you respect that much…..in some dude’s basement.
Adventurer acted as his backing band, and there was a hilarious moment where Kurt hunted down Steven (Adventurer’s guitarist) and kept trying to kiss him until, at last, he was successful and everyone cheered.
He sang “Desperate” and I was like *HEART EYES* because that song punches me in the gut every time.
At one point, Kurt brought up the fact that he was the oldest person in the room, I can’t remember why it came up now. But we made eye contact when he said that and I shook my head “no.”
“If anyone in this room is older than 31, raise your hand.”
I raised my hand.
“You??” he said in a shocked tone, which let me tell you, I truly appreciated. “No.”
“Yep. I’m 35!” I announced, and everyone craned their necks to get a good look at the token old broad.
Kurt shook his head and smiled. “Damn, I thought for sure I was the oldest one here! OK then, I dedicate this next song to you!”
O M F G.
In that moment, I was filled with gratitude that Janna was there as a witness. FINALLY, BEING OLD WORKED IN MY FAVOR!
(I still don’t feel old though. And I was showing more signs of life than half of those comatose motherfuckers last night!)
Kurt asked, “Anyone here like The Cure?” There were only two of us in the basement who answered affirmatively. Kurt told us that when he was a kid growing up in Sacramento, his mom was a dancer for Reebok and Adidas and he would often accompany her on drives back and forth to LA, where he would spend a lot of time listening to The Cure, specifically “Disintegration.”
“This next song was heavily influenced by The Cure,” he explained, before playing “Everything Is Beautiful.”
Meanwhile, Steven had stepped on glass or a syringe or who knows what and a small pool of blood had formed on the basement floor while the tour manager ran to get a first aid kit. And he just kept right on playing.
Kurt declined Steven’s request for him to kiss it.
I don’t even know what else to say about this night other hearing his beautiful voice within a small cinderblock-walled room was something that I will never forget and I definitely would have lived to regret it had I not gone, just like I still to this day regret missing a Frank Turner house show in 2010 because I had just started an evening assignment with a temp agency, ugh forever. I remember that I considered calling off and Henry, who rarely says no to me, gave me a Look that said, “Are you fucking kidding me, we’ve been poor as FUCK for the last year, you are GOING TO THIS JOB AND YOU ARE GETTING PAID.” Ugh, sometimes Henry has a point.
After the show, I waited semi-patiently while two guys fan-girled in Kurt’s face, because I had decided that I was not leaving this house without officially meeting him. And saying, “Can you sign this?” after I bought his EP from him in 2012 does not count.
“It was totally worth being the oldest broad in the room for this,” I said, trying not to gush.
“I couldn’t believe anyone here was going to be older than me!” he laughed.
Then Janna popped up from out of nowhere and said, “I’m older than her, just so you know” and I was like “GTFO YOU ARE NOT GOING TO RUIN MY MOMENT!” so then she retreated into her hole and I went on to tell him that I’ve always been a huge Dance Gavin Dance fan, and I obviously love his current band A Lot Like Birds, so it was worth enduring a potentially awkward situation to see him that night.
He graciously thanked me AND THEN GAVE ME A HUG!
He told me a little bit about the tour, and how he was said that In Angles couldn’t be there tonight (and I was sad too because I have been listening to them ever since he first gave them a shout out on Instagram) and it’s just really awesome how humble he is, and always ready to support and promote other bands before talking about his own. He is a real diamond in this scene.
I didn’t want to keep him any longer, so I wished him safe travels and then Janna and I headed out of the basement.
“Way to steal my moment, Janna! God, I was waiting for you to pull out your cane to prove you’re older than me!” and Janna laughed but I was serious!
Then Henry and Chooch rolled up and I screamed in Henry’s face, “KURT TRAVIS DEDICATED A SONG TO ME AND HE HUGGGGGGGGED ME!!!” Henry was like “…..” but Chooch had a ton of questions about this, because Chooch gets it, you guys.
It was utter perfection.
In fact, it was better than rolling cabbages down a hill toward Jonny Craig bowling pins.
P.S. In case you care, this is my all-time favorite Kurt Travis song even though it’s a Dance Gavin Dance song:
P.P.S. I survived and my organ-count is the same as it was Saturday morning, so in your face, GLENN!