It’s not that I don’t look forward to every show I attend, but the last few months have been excruciating waiting to see Citizen. I’ve been listening to them a ton since summer and this tour lineup was golden, start to finish. Originally, I was going to go by myself, which is no big deal but this show was at the Altar Bar and the vibe there always brings me down when I’m alone. I can’t really put my finger on it, but somehow that place is a magnet for assholes and I almost always have a problem with someone. And I knew I was going to have to stand on the balcony on account of my old lady brittle bones, which meant I was going to be surrounded by the drunk assholes who shout to their friends over top of the music. And what’s more annoying than paying money to see one of your favorite bands when you can’t escape banal conversation?
Mr. Smalls > Altar Bar, forever.
Anyway, on Monday—two days before the show—I twisted Henry’s arm hard enough* that he conceded. Thank god too, because I had already bought his ticket, ha.
*IF YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN.
Before the show, we had a quick dinner at Thin Man Sandwich Shop. I had that grilled ricotta chiesi you see down there. IT WAS SO GOOD. I love that place.
Guy: Henry, how are you?
Henry: Not thrilled, guy.
After dinner, we walked over to the Altar Bar, where Henry immediately started grimacing as he saw generations way below his lining up at the door. To be fair, it was a pretty mixed bag as far as ages go, but Henry’s so old that he’s always going to stick out. I at least got carded still.
We were early enough that I was able to snag my favorite balcony spot, which is practically right over the stage. I knew it was going to get crowded on the floor and I haven’t been feeling well enough to risk getting a shoe in the face, or to even be that close to people in general.
Talk about being transported back to the mid-90s, holy shit. And I mean that in all of the best ways. They have a grunge throwback sound that made me feel like I was back in Lisa’s Jeep, learning to drive in Jefferson Memorial.
They’re from England and this is their first time touring the US. And Pittsburgh got to be their first taste of America. That’s….alarming.
I’m pretty vocal about my pickiness for female singers, but I’m board with these guys 100%.
The girl next to me whipped around, look me straight in the eyes, and said very seriously, “She is everything. My God!” I agreed with her wholeheartedly, but then she went back to talking to her date and I was like, “HOW DO YOU EVEN KNOW WHEN YOU HAVE BEEN TALKING THROUGH THEIR ENTIRE SET!?”
Other than that, my balcony neighbors weren’t too bad. I even helped her date save her spot when she went to the bathroom. That’s very un-Erin-like. I really must have been sick.
Chooch really likes this video:
Henry had to think about it for two days before committing to a solid, “They weren’t bad.”
I was all up in some GIRLPOWER after that, though. SOMEONE TEACH ME HOW TO PLAY BASS. Or how about whatever the easiest instrument of all time is, but maybe one step up from a triangle.
This one young girl came pushing through the crowd right as they started and she shouted back every single word, and what the hell is my problem, but this made me cry tears of joy!? I had to stop myself from saying into Henry’s ear how happy it made me to see young kids having something to feel passionate about, but I knew he would roll his eyes so I veiled my face with my hair and cried in private.
I think a lot of it is that I didn’t have that when I was a teenager. I had a lot of canned happiness and sobbing alone in my bedroom.
I hope when Chooch is older and starts going to shows with his friends, that he’s one of those kids down there ferociously pointing his finger at the stage and shouting along to all of the words that get him through his days.
AND I LEARNED TO LOVE MYSELF MORE THAN I COULD EVER LOVE YOU – gets me every fucking time.
Turnover was next and I had to brace myself for their beautiful blend of modern shoegaze, and also I had no idea their singer had such a Henry-esque haircut! I kept asking Henry if that’s what he looked like in the nineties and he would only answer in various degrees of frowns. He was even wearing Henry-approved jeans. Also, he recently shaved his mustache, so imagine how much more Young Henryish he must have looked.
I was almost peeing my pants, waiting for Turnover. Listening to them makes me feel like going out and catching lightning bugs, or some other precious summer activity that you would never expect me to do. Like, holding hands with Henry.
I was really glad Henry was there, because Turnover is the kind of band that seeing alone would be depressing.
Also? They’re on my record label crush, Run For Cover. There’s not one bad band in that bunch.
Like, for instance….CITIZEN.
As soon as they started playing, there was this massive surge of people pushing toward the stage, and Henry leaned against the balcony with a big smile because looking down disapprovingly upon a mass of crowd-surfers is worth the price of the ticket for him. So while he stood laughing out loud at the kids below, I used that as my opportunity to openly weep and mouth the words to every song, like the true sad girl I am.
I could honestly fill this entire post with Citizen videos because it’s too hard to choose one song to represent them. A lot of people hated their last album because they shifted from a pop-punk vibe to a more grungy slow-burn sound. I personally like them both ways and to me, they’re still the same band. Isn’t that the point of being a musician, to continually evolve and hone your sound? Who wants to keep putting out the same album over and over.
Their old songs seemed to merge effortlessly with the new ones that night, it wasn’t like a jarring shift in the vibe as they bounced back and forth between their discography. I kept reading things on various forums about how crowds weren’t responding well to the new songs, and I’m sorry, but the Pittsburgh crowd was fucking in it to win it.
It was everything I hoped it would be and I felt so alive. Meanwhile, the guy next to me got ditched by his date. Maybe she ran off to find the singer of Milk Teeth, since she thought she was “everything” even though she talked through Milk Teeth’s entire set. So he ended up forfeiting his spot and I was so worried that assholes were going to swoosh in, but two peaceful, older guys (older as in like late 20s, lol) took the empty spot and my night got to continue along down the river of tranquility. Everything was fucking perfect and beautiful and I loved everyone that night, even kind of Henry.
I love them so much.
The next day, I was at work and Henry sent me a text that said, “Last night wasn’t bad.”
THAT MEANS, IN HENRY-SPEAK, THAT HE HAD A NICE TIME!
HENRY IS A CITIZEN FAN!
HENRY LIKES SOMETHING I LIKE!!
What a fucking beautiful night. My heart is exploding.