When I was offered the new gig at work, the first thing that I thought of was, “I’LL GET TO GO TO ALL OF THE CONCERTS!!” Working a regular daylight shift has been FANTASTIC, I can’t even stress enough how stoked I am to not have to pick and choose and then request days off at work. (If you know me, you know that I HATE USING PTO. I’m a hoarder. Barb gives me quarterly lectures about this.)
Anyway. A few weeks ago, I happened to see that United Nations was coming to Smiling Moose. But, let me back up. Perhaps you’ve heard of a little now-defunct band called Thursday? Fucking sick post-hardcore band that blew through the scene and, in my opinion, really shook shit up. I remember hearing “Understanding in a Car Crash” on our city’s alternative/hardrock radio station and thinking, “Holy shit, they’re actually playing Thursday on the radio?” I thought that was going to change things, like maybe next I’d start hearing Thrice and Glassjaw on the radio too, like maybe post-hardcore was going to become The Next Big Thing.
But, no. And that’s probably for the best.
Thursday did go on to become a pretty big deal though. I remember being really excited to see them in Coachella and Henry was just like, “Oh great. This fucking band.” And I remember like it was yesterday, Geoff Rickly passing out on the stage because it was 113 degrees in that fucking desert, and for some reason thinking “Now Henry will like them!” and he was like, “Why, because their singer passed out? I mean, I feel bad, but no. I still don’t like them.”
That was in 2004. I saw them again later that summer at The Cure’s Curiosa festival. Robert Smith had met them when they played Coachella that spring and really liked them, so he personally invited them to be a part of Curiosa. Can you imagine being a young band like that, and oh hello, Robert Smith wants us to join his exclusive summer music festival, no big deal.
So, I got to see them twice in 2004 and then….not ever again. They called it quits in 2011 and I kicked myself. There have been so many times over the years where self-kicking over missed music opportunities have happened, and you know what? I’m not missing things anymore.
And that is why even though Henry was like, “I am 100% for certain not going to this show with you,” I still bought my fucking ticket for this “little” screamo super-group called United Nations that just so happens to be fronted by Geoff Rickly.
Henry dropped me off at the Smiling Moose after work on Thursday, where I sat at the bar like a girl who had been stood up, chugging two Redd’s Apple Ales and then going upstairs for a night of screamo/post-hardcore.
Worn Colors, a local Pittsburgh band, had already started by the time I walked in, but it was still early and I was one of 8 people in the room. The singer spent most of the set coming out onto the floor to sing, which was great but also made me nervous because he kept standing next to me and I wasn’t trying to have any interaction because, you know, I’m Erin. I’m stand-offish. Don’t look at me.
At first, I was like, oh this band is going to be dumb, because: Pittsburgh. But they were fantastic and really hurt my heart. They were kind of Touche Amore-ish, if you’re into that type of music. Which I am. I teared up a few times during their set.
I sent Henry a video of them and his reply was “glad I’m not there.” Henry just doesn’t get it, you guys.
The next band was Kid Durango and I thought I was going to hate them too because they were sitting at the bar when I got there and the singer reminded me of that douche from Puddle of Mudd. (Also, my eyes are bad, so who knows for sure.)
“We’re going to play a song right now, but just so you know, the set hasn’t started yet. We’ll let you know when it starts,” the singer said, and I was like, “What? I hate you.” But then they started playing Toto’s “Africa” and I was like, “FUCK YOU I LOVE YOU!!!!” They played the whole song and then the singer was all, “OK now our real set is starting.” And they launched into 30 minutes of some kind of neo-grunge and I surprisingly was OK with it. Also, I think I’m in love with the singer now, but you expected that.
Meanwhile, some kid coerced me into buying a copy of his Socialism magazine and then wouldn’t stop talking to me about it and I was like, “Kid. There’s a band. I’m trying to listen.” He kept asking me to come to some socialist revolt this weekend at Pitt and finally I gave him my fucking email address just so he would go away.
Two minutes, he sent me an email with details for this weekend’s couch-burning rally and then 30 second after that he was at my side again, asking me if I got his email. Fuuuck. Still, I texted Henry and said, “I’m a socialists now. Bye.”
The third band was Frameworks from Gainesville, FL. I don’t have any pictures of them (there’s a video though, down below there) but man. They were beautiful and touched my soul with their perfect, melodic hardcore. I love this genre of music so much, because how else can I cater to my polarizing sadness and anger all at once? It is the perfect drug for people with personality disorders.
(Henry just walked by and said this band is not melodic to him at all. Haha.)
It was still pretty empty there during Frameworks. I was standing next to a wall about 10 feet back from the stage and the whole middle of the floor was empty. So, all this room, right? Yet some guy still decided to stand right next to me. Like, so very next to me that people probably thought he was my boyfriend. Henry doesn’t even stand that “next to me” at shows. (Big surprise.) First, he kept “accidentally” nudging my foot with his. So I would cross my right leg over my left to create more space. Then his fingertips kept grazing my arm and I was like “WHAT, BECAUSE I’M HERE ALONE AND I’M A BROAD, RIGHT?!” God, fuck off!
It’s not often that I go to a show where I feel that the entire line-up is solid, but this was one of those times. There wasn’t a single moment where I was like, “OK, please be done now.” Although, I’m a little sad that the fucking DC show got a special guest as the opener and it turned out it was motherfucking Will Butler from Arcade Fire. (Just found out a few days later BOTH Butler brothers played!)
BUT THEN IT WAS TIME FOR UNITED NATIONS~!! Oh you guys, it’s been a minute since I got to enjoy some real, authentic screamo and since Henry wasn’t there worrying about getting his hair mussed and his non-descript shirt ripped, I got to enjoy it from the front of the stage. And that is absolutely what I needed after these last few weeks of manic, nervous energy keeping me awake at night and making me feel like I’ve lost control of everything I’ve worked so hard to keep contained.
You guys, I have been wading through some kind of emotional turmoil recently and now I was five feet away from Geoff Rickly, having his screams cauterize the pain in my heart and just feeling sheer AGGRESSION.
OMG being directly on the receiving end of these vocals is literally the equivalent of a day at a spa for someone like me:
The only sad part for me about that night is not having any glorious pictures of Henry’s frowns, because I can only imagine how chiseled they would have been during this particular show. Oh well, maybe I’ll get some good ones of him during Pianos Become the Teeth’s set next month at Riot Fest. RIGHT HENRY?
Here’s a compilation of the short clips I recorded during the night. I am awful at recording shit at shows because I just want to be in the moment, but I still try to get a few seconds of each band as a memento. Also, I’m usually never holding my phone properly, haha.
The next morning at work, Glenn asked me in his typical dry monotone how my “screaming show” was.
“Oh my god, it was so good!! Geoff Rickly spit on me!” I cried.
“That’s great. I bet Henry wishes he could spit on you every night.” GOOD ONE GLENN.
Even if this isn’t your thing, I do recommend reading about their history, because it’s exciting. Geoff Rickly gives zero fucks. More bands should be like this.