I have waited a good long while for this to happen: Emarosa finally headlined a show in Pittsburgh so we didn’t have to travel to see them! We could casually leave our house at a normal hour for once and then get home before 2am or, you know, sometime the next day!
And the cherry on top an already decked out sundae was that the opening bands were two bands that Chooch and I both love: Jule Vera (Chooch) and A Lot Like Birds (me)! I absolutely could not wait. Even Henry was stoked on this one, probably mostly because he didn’t have to drive a lot and it was an early show, his favorites.
(Who am I kidding: early shows are my favorites these days now too.)
There ended up being a local opener and I was mildly annoyed about this at first because of course the venue was filled with all of their friends and family and I was worried that it would be like all of the Smiling Moose shows, where the opening band would play and the crowd would only be there just for them and then the venue would be empty for the headliner and the rest of the bands on the actual tour.
I had low expectations for Define Irony, which is awful because I was definitely judging them by the crowd they drew and I was expecting some lame 105 The X homogenous rock sound, but they proved me wrong and I am delighted to admit that! I love when a local band is GOOD!
Of course, this video doesn’t do it justice, but when the girl started singing, I was like, “OK I’M LISTENING. I HEAR YOU.” Their style, the back and forth co-ed vocals, brought back some memories of the scene from the mid-00s, and I was feeling it deeply.
Henry, who had ditched Chooch and I immediately and went to the bar, said that he couldn’t tell at all from where he was sitting if the band was good or not because the sound was so bad back there, which is very disappointing because I feel like Cattivo is usually pretty good in that area. Then again, Henry isn’t easily impressed so who knows.
Also, I haven’t been a good blog-researcher so I don’t know if this is mentioned on any of their social media sites, but if they got their name from Steve Buscemi’s line about Lynyrd Skynyrd in “Con Air” then I love them even more.
God, I love that movie.
Of course as soon as Define Irony was over, their whole entire posse left (although some of them hung around for the rest of the night) and I started to panic that the crowd was going to be sparse for Emarosa. People will argue with me based on the types of music they like, but Pittsburgh can be pretty shitty when it comes to the music scene and it’s bizarre because we have SO MANY COLLEGES in the area. Why aren’t these kids coming to shows? Are they just that poorly promoted? It could be that. Usually the only way I hear about shows is by following bands I like on Instagram or remembering to check the websites of various venues around here. Because unless it’s a larger band or something playing at Stage AE, I just don’t usually see anything about it.
I even tried to round up some friends to come out to this show because I really think some of them would enjoy Emarosa but that plan bombed. Amber2 was really bummed out because she does genuinely like them and it would figure that when they finally headlined here, she was out of town!
I WILL NOT GIVE UP THOUGH. Even if I have to buy everyone’s ticket myself and trick them into going.
The next band was Jule Vera, featuring Chooch’s babe Ansley. He LOVES HER. I mean, just look at her though, who wouldn’t? And then she starts singing and if you hadn’t already loved her, you will definitely fall in deep then. And the rest of the band is such a joy to watch, too!
I was sad though because the first time Chooch and I saw them with Never Shout Never in 2016, they did this really cool drum solo thing where Ansley poured water on the drum while the drummer was playing and it sounds like such a simple thing but it really was a cool thing to watch. It was very dramatic and that was definitely what made me pay attention to them.
Henry and I saw them a few months later at Riot Fest and they did it there too, and the crowd was just going nuts over it. We’ve seen them twice since then and they haven’t done it again :( This time around, they mostly played songs from their new album, which admittedly didn’t appeal much to me when we saw them over the summer at Warped Tour, but the vibe in Cattivo was different this night, more intense and passionate, and I afterward I looked at Chooch and said, “OK, I’m sold. I like the new songs now.” I think that the stage they played on at Warped was just not suitable for them.
In the beginning of their set, the crowd seemed kind of dead and I was SO EMBARRASSED. Ansley tried to get everyone to clap during the first song and no one moved. I really hoped that this wasn’t going to be a theme for the night, but by the second song, people seemed to really be opening up to Jule Vera and the energy rose A LOT. I mean, Chooch was over there right in front of the stage, cheering and waving his arms, so they at least would have had him if all else failed.
One thing to note about Chooch is that he is super independent when we’re out at events like this, and well, just really in life in general. When I was his age and had to use the bathroom, I would panic because OMG WHERE IS IT WHAT IS IT GOING TO BE LIKE SOMEONE GO WITH ME.
LOL who am I kidding, I’m still like that at 38.
But not Chooch. He’ll be like, “I have to piss, brb” and then he sets off to find the loo all on his own. So that’s what he did after Jule Vera, and I saved our spots. When he came back, he saw some girl wave to him and say, “Hi Riley!” and I was like, “How the fuck does an 11-year-old know people at shows and I don’t?!” Turns out she was one of his mentors when he was in 1st grade, so I guess she must be a senior now? Junior? I don’t know.
Shit fuck motherfucker OMG. A Lot Like Birds was next. Henry was still sitting in the bar area and I was like, “COME OUT HERE AND WATCH THEM” but he was like, “NO” because he’s seen them a bunch of times with me and absolutely nothing will ever make him like them because he has no taste.
I was excited for Chooch to finally see them live but he said he didn’t really like them that much and my heart shattered a little because I adore A Lot Like Birds, even without Kurt Travis.
I just saw them in June when they played Divisi in its entirety so I won’t go into too much detail here other than they were a joy to watch as usual and just made me feel invigorated.
Henry came over and joined us while Emarosa was setting up. Wow, so blessed. Please stand with us, Henry. Protect us from the bad guys at the big scary concert.
When Emarosa came on stage, the room felt like it was on fire. The crowd was pretty decent for Pittsburgh and everyone was visibly pumped to see Emarosa. I always say the same things about them: they’re so energetic, so pure and passionate, so clearly in love with sharing the art that they make — it’s hard to escape that contagion and I think that’s why this is one of the few bands that Henry and I BOTH like. But, only since the departure of Jonny Craig.
Oh, WHILE WE’RE TALKING ABOUT THAT GINGER PIECE OF SHIT…..a few days before this show, a video was going around on Twitter from a Slaves show in Detroit where Jonny was so fucked up that he fell off stage, tried to play it off like he just wanted to be singing in the crowd, and then CHOKES some guy for mocking him. This guy…
Also, he sounded like absolute shit in the video too. Sorry for all my friends who are now suddenly (and inexplicably) into him, literal “Jonny-Come-Lately”s, but that motherfucker peaked in 2009. You missed out, guys.
I wish there was a special font to denote eye-rolling.
Anyway, this was all over twitter and various music websites, and then Jonny was actually calling people and threatening them to take down the video and I have no idea what he’s so afraid of because he has cultivated such a pathetic following of blind sheep that he will probably never be in danger of not having a career because who cares if he’s a drug addict that emotionally abuses people, fans included, right guys?
I’m telling you all of this because after Emarosa played the first song of the night, Bradley took some time to ask everyone how they were doing that night (after saying, “Howdy, partners—I’m trying a new thing here”).
“No one’s getting choked, so that’s good at least,” he said, and I was like, “OOOOOOOH SHIT!” That was definitely a jab at Jonny and I loved it.
I don’t have a set list, but I will tell you that they played a good bit from both Bradley-fronted albums, including some of my favorites from Versus that I haven’t heard in a while and was afraid that they were retiring them.
But they also did a REAL throwback and played “The Game Played Right,” which was from the Jonny-era self-titled album and also my favorite old Emarosa song that I have never heard live before because Jonny wasn’t around very long after this album came out. I thought I was going to die. I rarely record entire songs at concerts because, for what, you know? But this was a rare exception because Bradley sang it so perfectly, and when it was over, some guy in the crowd yelled, “You sang that better than Jonny!”
“I know,” Bradley said in that Chris Pratt-esque way that I adore. “I killed it. But, it’s not a hard song to sing.” If that had been a tweet, he for sure would have used the hair-swish emoji, I just know it.
Or the nail-painting one.
And they played a cover of Paramore’s “Decode” and I wanted to cry. It was such a fire rendition.
Oh, and guess who crowd-surfed again? HAHAHA! Chooch saw Bradley walking over to our side of the side and got the “Oh lawd” look on his face, and then before he could hide in Henry’s beard, Bradley was pulling him up on stage and sending him off to the sea of fans. It was great!
Immediately after the show, Chooch’s friend Lacey came over and high-fived him, and then the girl who was standing next to Chooch at the front of the stage came over and asked if we were at the Emarosa at Mahall’s last spring. After I confirmed, she said, “I knew I had seen you guys there!” I’m sure a crowd-surfing 11-year-old is pretty hard to forget though!
And then another guy came over to us and said, “Hey, I met you at the A Lot Like Birds show a few months ago—” but of course I remembered him because so few people actually talk to me at shows! Anyway, he said as soon as he saw Chooch go up in the air, he was like, “That has to be that girl’s son” because we were talking about Emarosa at that last ALLB show and I showed him the video of Chooch crowd-surfing. So he came over and looked for us after the show and I was so happy! I hardly ever make connections at shows because when I’m alone, I’m so stand-offish and awkward. And if I do talk to anyone, I always feel like they won’t remember me anyway because I’m so forgettable, wah.
So all of these things were so great (and also all thanks to Chooch, ugh) and then we had a great conversation with one of the guitarists from Jule Vera, the same one we talked to at Warped Tour (Claud?). He’s such a nice guy, and a real talker. That’s those Alabama boys for you! He said, “Ya’ll were at Warped Tour, too, weren’t you?” and I was so happy that he remembered talking to us! Those bands talk to so many fans at Warped Tour, but I guess Henry kind of stands out.
Just a little.
Henry and I told him that we also saw them at Riot Fest last year and how upset Chooch was that he wasn’t there, haha.
Meanwhile, Chooch just stood there, nervously wringing his hands, desperately trying to avoid making eye contact with Ansley. He has it bad for her, man.
We couldn’t leave without talking to Bradley (no really we couldn’t — he was standing right by the door!).
He seemed genuinely happy to see us, and told us that there were snags on stage, being the first show and all, and I was like, “Pfft, we couldn’t tell!” They sounded so tight as always! Then he tried to teach Chooch a handshake-thing and it was pretty painful, and also hilarious, to watch.
I opened my big mouth about Chooch’s crush on Ansley and Bradley was all, “OH SHIT!” and started teasing him in full big-brother mode. Even the guys in line behind us were cracking up.
I wish I could describe Bradley better, because he is so down-to-earth and an absolute delight to talk to. I know that sounds so lame and like, such a mom-thing to say, but it’s clear how much he values and appreciates his fans. I love watching him engage with people in line before us, and seeing him make someone’s day. He’s good at it, and while he has his exaggerated (and also very facetious) bravado on stage, he is so far from a rock star in person. I love this guy, and this band, and I hope the butterflies they give me never go away!
What an excelsior night, legitimately.