We were on our way to take family photos in Mingo Park when Blake told me.
“Craig was kicked out of Chiodos,” he said from the backseat.
“No seriously, my friend Gavin just read it on MySpace.”
“No,” I said with firm disbelief, but I doubted my tone, like a wife being told her husband is cheating with the 17-year-old nanny.
It was hard to imagine a Chiodos without their charismatic singer, but I’ve had since September 24th, 2009 to prepare for what was to come. Chiodos have since acquired a new singer, Brandon Bolmer, and released a new album (Illuminaudio, which I reviewed here with all the emotion of a girl being stood up for prom). Craig has moved on to front and release an album with a veritable super group of sorts, Destroy Rebuild Until God Shows (D.R.U.G.S.). Both parties have seemingly moved on (“seemingly” being the operative word), so I knew I should, too, yet I kept finding reasons to avoid seeing this neo-Chiodos every time they rolled into Pittsburgh since that fateful fall.
“Oh, they’re with The Used. I just saw The Used last month.” (Weak.)
“Yeah, but it’s a week night. I’d have to call off work and I don’t have PTO yet.” (Lame.)
But then Chiodos announced their tour with Emarosa and the Pittsburgh date happened to be on a Sunday night in February. There were no excuses. I had to get this over with.
Then the D.R.U.G.S. album was released, so I had been listening to that pretty much ad nauseum in the days preceding the Chiodos show. Overwrought with guilt because of this, I began to cry in the car.
“You’re allowed to like both bands, you know,” Henry said, knowing exactly why I was crying. “It’s not cheating.” I’ll keep that in mind when I start seeing other people.
In a weepy little girl whine, I cried, “But it just feels so wrong! Craig belongs with Chiodos! THINGS WILL NEVER BE THE SAME!”
Watching Chiodos that night in February at the Rex Theater proved that. I was already perplexed, a little off-balance even, after watching Emarosa take the stage beforehand without Jonny Craig, (a scenario which I only had a few hours to prepare for). Now I was watching another of my favorite bands with some impostor at the helm. And that guilt came back, because I was there to give Brandon a chance. I loved the new album, so why was my heart leaking poison into my veins? Why was I acting like one of those pernicious, fickle scene kids who turned their backs on Chiodos the moment Craig was gone? I was better than that, I was there for the music, not politics.
At least, that’s what I tried to convince myself.
I tried to fixate on Bradley lurching about like a crazed Frankenstein’s monster behind his keyboard, and the perpetually shoeless Jason in his spot stage-right, hoping that this would bring me some comfort and familiarity, but it wasn’t the same now that they were flanking some other guy at center stage. I kept turning around and making sad eyes at Henry, who shrugged and gave me sympathetic smiles.
And the crowd! Smallest crowd of any Chiodos show I have ever been to. Scene girls were ominously scant at this Owens-less Chiodos show. Although I did see one that looked like Snookie.
And then they would play old songs, like “Baby, You Wouldn’t Last a Minute On the Creek,” and my chest hurt like it was being wrenched open by screamo dwarves and flooded with the memories of the last six years. Memories of being pregnant and listening to “Baby…”, of the first time I saw Chiodos with Christina at Taste of Chaos, of Chiodos asking Chooch to be their mascot in Columbus. Warped Tour. Mr. Small’s. The Basement. Club Zoo. So many memories they’ve turkey-basted into my heart over these last short six years.
I didn’t want Brandon singing those songs. I didn’t want to hear him sing the words on my arm, words that aren’t his.
It was like walking in on your mom having sex with her ceramics instructor. You can’t undo it, you can’t unsee it, you can’t unHEAR it, and you know nothing will ever be the same again. But you’re torn, because part of you likes the ceramic instructor. She helped you make that shitty jack o’lantern when you were in fifth grade, after all.
Shitty jack o’lantern be damned, it filled me with aggression, this intense desire to start a fight. I set my sights on the fat screamer from the shitty local band that opened the show, but Henry kept giving me chastising head shakes.
“But I hate that fucker!” I yelled.
“Stop,” Henry kept calmly saying, until eventually, I did. Mostly because I was afraid he wouldn’t buy me a hoodie after the show if I kept acting out. And also because that screamer-fuck could have potentially killed me with one swift plow-drive.
I’ll be fair, Brandon did kill it up there with Chiodos. He’s got a fierce, solid voice and was just on. I’ll continue to support them, I still love every track on Illuminaudio, but that doesn’t mean it’s not going to feel like a cavity being drilled every time he sings one of Craig’s songs.
It was pouring down rain when we left the Rex that night, and I inadvertently stepped in a shin-deep puddle, which seemed eerily apropos.
For the next week and a half, I experienced a post-show depression worse even than what past Warped Tours have inflicted upon me. I felt somewhat traumatized, like an orphan being taunted with the promise of adoption only to have her face coated with laugh-induced spittle. “We shouldn’t have gone,” I said over and over to Henry. “We just shouldn’t have gone at all.” I moped around listlessly for days, sliming everything I touched with my malaise.
I’ve had since September 24th, 2009 to prepare myself for this. But I guess it wasn’t enough time.