Sometime over the summer, I was outside taking a walk during my lunch break when Terri texted me that Armor For Sleep had announced a very small tour to celebrate the 10th anniversary of their best album, What To Do When You Are Dead. I freaked out. Then I saw the dates and my heart sank when I saw Pittsburgh wasn’t on the list.
Philly was, though! And it was a Saturday show! However, it also happened to be the weekend after Riot Fest.
I knew there was no way Henry was going to go for this, but I called him at work anyway and his response was LOL.
So then I went back to work in a complete huff and whined to Glenn whose response was LOL.
Of course, I could just go by myself, and that’s what I probably would have wound up doing because the thing about Armor For Sleep is that they were an extremely influential band for me in their short existence and they’ve been broke up since 2009.
I was lucky enough to have seen them at least once, in 2008, but unlike a lot of bands, they didn’t do a grandiose “farewell” tour, except for a random reemergence at the 2012 Bamboozle which I tried to get Christina to do to with me since this was during one of our brief, short-lived “makeup” stints, but the one major thing that happened to Christina during the Great Tragic Friendship Blackout was that she basically “grew up” and quit caring about music. Don’t worry, not everything was different—she was still a gigantic lying piece of shit! Thumbs up for consistency!
This was our band! This was the album we would listen to together on so many late night drives to Cincinnati. (I used to make her take the Greyhound to Pittsburgh so I wouldn’t have to drive to Cincinnati alone, hahaha. Somehow, I was fine driving back home by myself though.) In a nutshell, What To Do When You Are Dead is a concept album from 2005 about a boy who kills himself and then quickly realizes all he’s left behind. I love me a concept album when it’s done properly, and this one was fresh, poignant, and timeless. In fact, it was so relatable, that I had to stop listening to it for a certain chunk of time in my life.
The wonderful thing about Henry is that even when it seems like he doesn’t get it, like all those years I cried in his face while listening to this album, he actually really did get it. He knew that this was one those “can’t miss” shows for me, and that is why he changed his mind and said, we will go to Philly but you and Terri can go without me.
(When I told Glenn that I got my way as usual, he was pretty disgusted and said, “Henry needs to stop rewarding bad behavior.” Oh god, did I laugh!)
The show was at the Trocadero, which I was happy about because it’s so beautiful inside. We started the night with drinks up in the balcony and of course I chose a spot right in front of two Chatty Chats who only spoke louder to each other once the opening band, Cold Seas, started playing. Terri and I kept tossing annoyed glares over our shoulders, but they were oblivious. How are people so unaware sometimes?! I had to laugh because they applauded and “Woo!”d after some of the songs, and then at one point, one of them shouted to the other, “I love mellow shit like this.” Terri and I made eye contact and started cracking up. “How are they even listening!?” she cried.
They split after the first band so we were able to enjoy Prawn without incessant Bro Talk being projected at the backs of our heads. But then I realized that a piece of my bracelet broke off so I was too focused on exploring the floor under my feet and experiencing mild anxiety because I only just bought that bracelet at Riot Fest and I hate when jewelry breaks! I have an entire drawer full of broken jewelry waiting for Henry to fix them. Terri ended up really enjoying Prawn a lot, and after their set, I found the missing piece underneath the girl’s butt who was sitting in front of me, so now that my bracelet is whole again, I will have to give Prawn my undivided attention at home.
After Prawn, we went downstairs. We had a really great spot up there in the balcony, but I just really needed to be down there on the floor for this. It didn’t feel right any other way. Terri was fine with whatever, because she is the BEST, so we squeezed and tiptoed our way to about three heads back from the stage, and over to the side. There was literally no one on the right side of us and for as packed as the Troc was that night, we somehow managed to make it through the whole show without incident! Except for some mad-looking girl who kept edging her way closer to Terri and one of the security guys who made me hit my head off the archway I was standing in front of when he pushed his past to pull some guy out of the crowd. Other than that, and the 87 times I hit my head on my own, it was great!
I’m not going to get into great detail here, because short of splashing the computer screen with a bucket of my hot, salty tears and blood, how else can I really describe the “Ow” factor of this show? The came out and, with minimal fanfare, launched right into “Car Underwater” and my heart fucking stopped, restarted, and then exploded like a water balloon filled with Spring of 2005. It was like that, and on and on, over and over, for 90 minutes of pure, sentimental, turn this moment into a commemorative Christmas ornament, bliss. I can’t remember the last time I sang so loud at a show (sorry, tall black guy in front of me) and it felt so cleansing to purge even more of those pesky lingering feelings. Not all of them. I’ll keep some. But the amount I’ve been hoarding all of these years is unhealthy and makes me feel like a broken record.
They didn’t play the album in complete order, and they did sprinkle in some songs from their other two albums, which I was ambivalent about at first, but then I realized that if they only played WTWYAD, that show would’ve ended much earlier and I wanted to spend as much with these guys as possible. Just seeing them together again on that stage was beautiful. I don’t know what this means for them as a band, if they will decide that they missed making music and consider getting back together, so I am so grateful that I got the chance to see them that night. This band, and especially that album, has touched so many lives over the years and it was really nice to see that the reception for this short run they’re doing has been great.
^^^Back in 2005, I had emailed the band to tell them how much I loved them (probably in my most psychotic manner). My email signature was a link to my old my LiveJournal and it said “Have you had your Vagynafondue today?” PJ was the one who replied to my email and we had this ridiculous discussion about “vagina fondue” and seeing him all these years later made me crack up at that memory. I wish I still had that email.
Did I cry a lot? YOU BET YOUR INTERNET-STRAINED EYES I DID. Especially during “Basement Ghost Singing” because that song has some twisted meaning to me. However, it wasn’t a sad cry really. I promised myself when I woke up that morning that I wasn’t going to let the past dictate how tonight would make me feel. I refused to get that awful, sick-to-my-stomach feeling of crippling grief and heartbreak. I was going to enjoy the music that was prevalent during a very formative time of my life. It was going to be good.
And instead, it turned out to be amazing. Because I was there with my friend Terri, who gets it, who doesn’t judge, and who loves this shit just as much as I do. I’m so glad that I got to share this experience with her! Armor For Sleep 4ever!
Another intensive therapy session in the books.