After catching Frameworks open for United Nations during the summer of 2014, my heart was hooked like the lip of trout. They’ve got that emo revival sound that resonates with me, so I’d been keeping a watchful eye on this Florida bunch. Finally, they announced a headlining tour with Donovan Wolfington, and I was on board. I didn’t even bother asking anyone to go with me. I’m over that hassle.
In exchange for not having to go, Henry gave me a free Lyft to the Smiling Moose on Sunday, and also an allowance to cover my ticket and cider. Clearly, Papa Tightwad was in a good mood, knowing he could go home and binge-watch How It’s Made in his underroos.
Before the show started, I chilled in the bar in the back of the room, drinking some outer space-priced pumpkin cider and being entertained by a pair of older Bosnian gentlemen who were apparently there to support one of the local bands but I couldn’t tell if they were being serious or not because my facetious meter has been damaged through years of hard use. In any case, I chugged my ritzy cider so that I could go closer to the stage. (All Ages show, yo.)
The first band was Curse Words. I felt drawn to them immediately. That sad boy emo gets me every last time, and I already can’t wait to see them again/stalk them all around the ‘Burgh. Our neighbors moved out so maybe I can get them to come over and play a house show, OMG.
After their set, an influx of old people rushed the stage. Mom-types started skipping around, hugging teenage girls and thanking them for coming out, and it became clear that the entourage of the second band had arrived. It was adorable and fucking annoying simultaneously, but I’ll tell you what: I was buffeted by the comforting scent of freshly laundered sheets, hand sanitizer, and Werthers Originals, thanks to the grandparents closing in on me. This was a nice change from the usual stench of B.O. and farts that usually permeates the upstairs of the Smiling Moose.
The band of the hour was another local band called the Incandescence. I want to jump on board and tell you that I was blown away, but…I didn’t get it. Musically, they were all over the place and I understand that genres are binding, but in their case, it felt like they didn’t have an identity. Aside from having a super-charismatic drummer who reminded me so much of my old friend James Hosfield with long hair, I was pretty bored and disconnected. Plus, I was surrounded by all of these preppy girls who were clearly classmates of these guys (I couldn’t tell if the band was high school- or college-aged) who were totally clueless on how to act at a show and kept complaining that it was too loud.
STILL, I was happy to support them.
Anyone who hates opening bands would be super pissed at a Smiling Moose show because it’s the openers that pack the place. It’s always a family affair at every show I’ve gone to there, little Billy’s band got their first real gig and the whole fucking family tree has to storm the venue. It’s actually super awesome to witness. I can’t imagine my family ever coming together to support me in something like that, so it gives me hope when I see Aunt Betty and Grandpa Walt cringing and beaming with pride at the same time. And this is why, even if the band isn’t my thing, I will still scream and clap alongside the people who are required to scream and clap.
Also, for the first half of these shows, they take the heat off me with their white hair and wrinkles and I don’t have to be That Lady Standing Alone who is either Someone’s Mom or Lost.
(In all honesty, the only time I ever got any weird looks was when I was the Young Girl Alone at the Boz Scaggs show.)
D.Wolf was super entertaining. I’ve never seen them live before but I was really looking forward to it. I will give most any band on Topshelf my full, undivided attention and these guys did not disappoint. They were pretty hilarious, which always makes me love bands even more.
Finally, it was time for Frameworks. I wish I could properly explain what it is about this style of music, and this band in particular, that makes me weak in the knees. I tried to articulate it at work the other day, the whole screaming thing. Because I know, it’s a curious concept for a lot of people who think that it’s just screaming for the sake of screaming. Sure, there are definitely bands out there like that. But those aren’t the ones I like. I tried to get my work friends to believe that there are different types of screaming, but that was received by a collective “come the fuck on” look from all of them.
But it’s true! For instance, people assume that I must like death metal, because of the screaming. But I don’t! I’m not a fan of that type of screaming, and it also has a lot to do with the music behind the screams.
“The kind of screaming I like is the emotional kind,” I said, attempting to delve into a lesson in emotional hardcore/Emo Revival, but if anyone had been taking me seriously before that point, I had definitely lost them with the “emotional” thing. And then somehow I heard myself casually admitting that I pretty much cry at the drop of a hat. “I started crying before the opening credits of Fuller House even started,” I laughed. “Like, Henry was still looking for it on Netflix and I started crying.”
“Oh my god,” Glenn muttered. “WHY?!”
But whatever. I laughed along with everyone because it was a pretty funny conversation for a Tuesday morning, but this really is something I take seriously. If I’m not at a show, I’m listening to music, and if I’m not listening to music, I’m reading about it. And somewhere in between, I’m watching music videos on YouTube. It really is practically my entire life, oh well. This music has been slowly suturing my heart for the last several years and I will keep going to these shows as long as they exist because it’s so much cheaper than therapy and anti-depressants.
There is just something so cathartic, standing feet away from the stage, while someone is shouting his words in your face.
I had been looking forward to this show ever since it was announced and it honestly didn’t disappoint. It was perfectly abrasive, beautifully raw, and the only way it could have been more intimate would have been if we were all sitting cross-legged on my bed.
In between songs, one of the guitarists thanked everyone for staying after all of the “Church dwellers” left, which was an accurate assessment. Selfishly, I love these shows with sparse crowds because it’s so much more comfortable and relaxed, but it really sucks for the bands. Pittsburgh is so fucking backwards with some things. Get with it, Pittsburgh.
After the show, I mustered up the courage to talk to Luke, the singer. I felt so bad that my town didn’t show up for them (their other shows in bigger cities seemed to do well, big surprise) and I really wanted him to know that I appreciated them. During their set, Luke had mentioned that this was only their second time playing here, so I used that as my conversation starter.
“I was at that United Nations show two years ago, and you guys totally stole my heart,” I freakishly gushed. He put his hand over his heart and said that meant a lot, and then he formally introduced himself with a handshake. This is the part in every conversation with bands where I have no idea which route to take, so I always pull the ripcord and take the emergency exit while shouting, “OK THANKS HAVE A GOOD NIGHT YOU WERE GREAT BYE.”
Sigh. This part never gets easier for me.
Whenever I start to get pulled down into negativity’s undertow, I just have to look back on these moments and remember that I am living my life. No one is stopping me from enjoying the things I love. And I don’t mind being alone anymore, and my life is full of beautiful music and experiences because of that. Things are so much better now.
I think I shook for two whole days after this show. It was some kind of spiritual to-do, you guys.