When I was younger, my friend Shawn and I used to go to shows all the time and we loved meeting the bands afterward. It never seemed like a big deal either, just hanging out after the show, waiting for a chance to take a picture and tell them what a great performance it was. One of my favorite memories is sitting around in a small circle in the parking lot of a venue of Hershey, with Scooter Ward from Cold. Totally casual, and he even passed around Starbursts (I still have mine; it’s orange and deformed and lives in my freezer). Sure, I was freaking out internally because Cold was my JAM back then, but it was always such a positive experience seeing and speaking with him. He was (and still is) a stand-up guy. And we met Tegan and Sara before they became famous and they were adorable and sweet and it was just such a chill moment.
And there was this one night when Shawn and I hung out backstage with Finger Eleven after their show at Nick’s Fat City in 2000 (don’t judge! I used to love them in another life, haha). Even Dave Navarro was super chill, and then obviously there was the time I met The Cure fifteen years that was so beautiful I still have not been able to bring myself to put it into words.
But then I met Jonny Craig in 2008 and it was awful and humiliating and I haven’t even looked at the photo that was taken of us, not once. It was definitely a “I drove 4 hours for this?!” moment.
It kind of just killed it for me. I never really bothered trying to meet any bands again after that (except for Jonny one more time in 2009 which was stupid on my part because it was even worse; sorry I’m not a skanky tattooed scene waif offering you blowjobs and heroin, asshole; God forbid I just want to tell you that I love your music). But now Chooch is getting into music and he has that joy and excitement of meeting bands that I once had, so I’m reliving it vicariously through him. Seeing the stars in his eyes after he met Lynn Gunn of PVRIS was just utterly adorable.
And Chooch’s experience meeting Bradley Walden of Emarosa was a positive one and we were both really excited about it. I know that it seems like it goes without saying that bands would just automatically be nice to kids, but you’d be surprised. Or not.
Even though their set at Warped Tour was already on its way to being the highlight of the day for me, Chooch meeting Bradley afterward really drove it home.
Last Wednesday, I finally made myself sit down and write about seeing Emarosa that day at Warped Tour. I had been craving them ever since they play Riot Fest last year, and was stoked that it was finally happening again. I wrote that blog post on my break at work that day; on the way home, I checked my stats as I do occasionally and noticed that they had skyrocketed. Panic set in because usually it’s no bueno when this happens, like when all of the field trip posts were viewed multiple times and it turned out it was because some mom from Chooch’s old school found it and passed them around to all of the other moms and then I was in a real life “Lucy, you have some ‘splainin’ to do!” moment.
Turns out, Bradley found my blog post via twitter, which I never intended. He retweeted it and also said this:
I mean, it’s hard not to excited about things like this, even though social media makes it really easy for bands and other celebrities to throw their fans a bone in the form of Instagram likes and Twitter retweets, so I was trying to be cool about it but then I was like AW FUCK IT and posted it on Facebook, because it was a really big deal to me! And I made some new friends on Twitter because of it too, smart people who agree that Emarosa is better than ever.
This was kind of weird timing, because Henry and I had tickets to see Emarosa perform a small, intimate, acoustic set at Mahall’s in Cleveland. I was a little bit embarrassed, because you know how gushy I get in my writing, and Christ, I wrote that thing on my lunch break at work, without proof-reading of course, because I’m so “professional,” so I felt a little foolish. Does that make sense? There’s such a fine line between sincere fan and psycho stalker who thinks she has a future being a band wife.
I promise you I’m not the latter even at times it may seem that way!
When Emarosa announced this quick, impromptu tour two weeks ago, I bought two tickets for the Mahall’s show immediately, and then woke Henry to tell him. Then he found out it was on a work night and I got grief from him about it every day up until the moment we were standing in the basement of Mahall’s, with Emarosa setting up less than a foot away from us.
(Literally, less than a foot. The girl next to me kept asking them if we were in the way and they said we were fine, but I definitely felt in the way, which is a normal feeling for me so it was basically just like any other day. Also, I wanted to scream I FUCKING LOOOOOOVE YOU!!!!! but instead I just buried my head in Henry’s chest.)
But then they started playing, and my nerves started to stop snapping and sizzling; it was just such a relaxed, campfire vibe, and everyone was so into it.
The whole band seemed to be in such good spirits, and there was a lot of joking and camaraderie. EVEN HENRY WAS SMILING.
Especially when Bradley had everyone sit down. That was Henry’s favorite part. Until he apparently lost feeling in his legs. (Such an attention whore.)
The only light in that small basement room came from one red bulb, which made taking pictures and videos futile, even with no one standing in front of me. I didn’t want to be That Person who used a flash, so I eventually just hit record and aimed my phone at the floor, because who needs visual when the music is so beautiful on its own.
“You’re better than Jonny Craig!” some guy yelled from the middle of the crowd. Bradley smiled and said, “I know” and everyone cheered. I know it seems petty, but if you knew what it’s been like for the last 8 years, being let down by that piece of shit when you’re such a fan of his music, you would take sides too. Emarosa won all of the smart, grown-up fans in their divorce with Jonny.
After the show, I kind of just wanted to run out of there. Henry kept saying, “Whatever you want to do,” which wasn’t helping because I really wanted him to just, “You are going to go over there and say hello to Bradley or I will never go to another show with you. Ever. Again.”
The girl who was standing to me during the show was getting her CD signed by him, and no one else really seemed to be crowding him at the moment, so I sucked it up and edged a little closer. I didn’t see this happen, but according to Henry, after Bradley signed the girl’s CD, he began to walk toward me, but then she started saying something to him, so he stopped. Once she walked away, I can’t even believe this happened and it still feels like a dream, but he walked over and hugged me.
HUGGED ME. (Henry said that the girl who was talking to him before me had a WTF look on her face, lol.)
“It’s good to see you,” he said.
I was stunned.
“……do you know who I am?” I questioned, and then immediately hoped it didn’t come out sounding arrogant.
Bradley gave me a weird look and said yes.
HE KNEW WHO I WAS.
He told me that he read my whole blog post and it meant so much, he loved it.
I said, “I really wanted to talk to you last week at Warped Tour, but I get so nervous. I use my kid as my mouthpiece,” I laughed, and Bradley said I shouldn’t be nervous, and that he thought Chooch was so cool and he made his day.
I told him that he really wanted to come with us, and Bradley said he wished we would have brought him and now Chooch basically wants to kill me, haha. Then he asked me how long of a drive we had from Pittsburgh, so that was Henry’s chance to contribute to the conversation.
But I finally got to thank him to his face for breathing life back into Emarosa and I’m crying now as I’m typing this, but I told him how much that band means to me, and it’s just so wonderful getting to have positive experiences seeing them now and not wondering if their singer is going to be fucked up, slurring his words or flat out forgetting the lyrics, and trying to fight people from the stage.
And then he hugged me again.
To have someone I admire so much actually read something that I wrote, like a REAL something, a not just a tweet….it’s validating. I’ve been blogging since 2001, and writing in general since second grade (I used to write stories on the backs of my dittos, remember when we had dittos?!). It’s also overwhelming and mind-blowing. This whole experience has helped heal me from past traumas of being treated poorly by band members that I once admired. It’s restored my faith in the scene and has only made me want to try even harder to get everyone I know to PLEASE FUCKING LISTEN TO THIS BAND. I love them so much that I bought an extra Versus album just so I could give it away on my blog last winter in hopes of gaining them another fan. And it worked! And not only did they gain a fan, but I gained a friend. Emarosa is awesome like that.
“You still haven’t met the rest of the band,” Henry said as we walked out of Mahall’s.
“I’m not ready for that yet!” I laughed.
Seriously, I wasn’t trying to cry that night. The way it ended was perfect, and I didn’t want to push my luck.
Then I gave Henry reprieve from my need to dissect every single second of the night by texting and Facebook messaging my friends a CAPSLOCK summation of the evening, and they all responded to me with the proper amount of excitement and exclamation marks, GOD LOVE THEM.
“Wasn’t it worth it?” I asked Henry, shaking his arm as he tried to navigate his way out of Lakewood, Ohio. “Aren’t you so glad we came?!”
And you know what? He said yes.