I must be getting at going to shows alone because as soon as I saw that Better Off was coming to town with Pentimento, I just bought one ticket and assumed that Henry wouldn’t be joining me. My assumption was correct!
The show was at Smiling Moose, and those shows always have early start times because the Moose always has late night shit going on. Knowing I would have to go there right after work, I brought clothes to change into. My boss-person Rachel passed me on the way out of the bathroom after I changed and commented on my band shirt, which opened up my favorite can in the world: Cure worms. Turns out, Rachel’s brother-in-law grew up across the street from Robert Smith in England. MIND = BLOWN. And she said it so casually, too! I can’t believe we have worked together for over five years and this is the first I’m hearing about it.
I WORK WITH SOMEONE IS RELATED THROUGH MARRIAGE TO SOMEONE WHO PROBABLY SAW ROBERT SMITH CUTTING THE GRASS OR TAKING OUT THE GARBAGE AT SOME POINT.
Remember to breathe, Erin.
My personal Lyft driver picked me up from work as usual and then booted me out of the car at Smiling Moose around 5:45. The hardest part for me is walking in. I’m cool once I get inside and assess the room, but those several minutes leading up to that moment totally ravage my stomach. Typically, I’d go straight to the bar and get a drink to help calm my nerves, but this time, I went straight upstairs and waited for Quarter Crisis to come on. They’re a local band and it was their first real show, so there were some family members milling about and I was thankful for that because their elder status helped me blend in a bit. These types of shows tend to draw in the high school and early college crowd, which is strange to me because the music definitely isn’t young or immature in any way. People at work asked me what kind of bands were playing and I just gave them the vague “pop punk” response, but that’s really not what genre this is at all. I like to consider it modern emo, to be honest. And also, I hate labels.
Old people acting giddy for the family band. One of the Quarter Life guys was standing near me for a short time before they were ready to play, and a woman who I assume was his mom kept trying to get him to just please stay at her house after the show. He was all, “Look, I appreciate it, honestly, but I have class at 9am.”
“So, you can leave at 7!” she countered, so this is where my excellent deductive reasoning skills figured that he must go to some college outside of Pittsburgh.
“I’ll be fine!” he promised. “I’ll drink a lot of coffee tonight, I swear.” This didn’t seem to satisfy her but then one of his bros showed up and bro-hugged him so she sighed and then started annoying her granddaughter about taking pictures of the show and the granddaughter snapped and said, “Grandma, staaaahhhp! I will just take pictures with my phone! God!” because I guess grandma didn’t know how to use her camera, who even knows with grandmas these days.
Anyway, the band had some sound hiccups during their set, but I still appreciated them for what they are and was glad that I was there to help out fill out the room some (or, with my girth, A LOT). My favorite part was when the singer pointed out that his older brother and dad were filling in and that’s when I noticed that the dad behind the drumset could have easily have been GLENN.
We had a fun convo about it this morning at work!
Meanwhile, I had scarfed down a cheese sandwich before leaving work that day, having the foresight to actually prepare something before leaving home that morning, knowing that I wouldn’t have time to eat a real dinner before the show. Because I ate it so fast, I kept burping up cheese and mustard, so you’re welcome, anyone standing close enough to me to catch a whiff of my regurgitated culinary wizardry.
Next up was Carolyn and Caleb, but every time one of the other bands would give them a shout out, I thought it was some variation of Carrots and Kale. They were….OK. Inoffensive. Nice, complementary voices. But, kind of boring and too twangy at times. Also, “Kale” resembled that d-bag Pittsburgh Dad (if you’re not from Pittsburgh, he’s a “comedian” who makes parody videos of stereotypical Pittsburgh dads, and I have yet to find a single one of them even mildly humorous, but people here flip their shit over him for some reason) so I immediately felt inclined to dislike him. They also seemed to take themselves too seriously.
Sterile and bland. Their Bob Dylan cover was tight though and I don’t even really like Bob Dylan.
I wish Carrots would have sung some things on her own instead of just being Kale’s accessory.
There was a girl standing alone near me and part of me thought, “MAYBE SHE IS HERE ALONE TOO AND YOU SHOULD SAY HELLO I AM HERE ALONE AND SHE WILL SMILE AND SAY OH THANK GOD ANOTHER SINGLE DAME!” and then you will become besties and go to every show together from then on until you realize that the reason she kept tossing furtive glances over her shoulder is because she was waiting for her actual friends to arrive and of course she wasn’t alone because why would she be and also no one has said “dame” in a hundred years.
A Will Away was completely unexpected. They had some major technical difficulties which prevented them from starting on time, so their set got cut short, and that was a shame because they had That Sound, you guys. The vocals and the music and the lyrics, sad boy music reppin’! I wish that Carrots and Kale hadn’t been in the line-up, affording A Will Away some more time.
I think “Home” was my favorite.
I bought their EP after the show and I’m already looking forward to seeing them again!
And then it was time for Better Off! I didn’t get any pictures of them because I was too excited and caught up in the music, OMG can you imagine. The sound was questionable in the beginning, but it gradually got better (I have issues with the sound at Smiling Moose no matter what — the room is so goddamn small and the sound is actually too loud at times and vocals can be hard to hear). I was really feeling it hardcore, especially when they launched into “Dresser Drawer” WHICH IS MY FAVORITE:
And cue more technical difficulties. They ended up having to cut their set short after like, I don’t know, FOUR SONGS. I was pretty wrecked, but I have faith that I will see them again real soon because I’m basically stalking them on every social media site so that I don’t miss a single thing. This is why I don’t have time to keep up with the Kardashians. Too many bands to stalk.
(That took a lot of effort so that’s how you know I feel strongly about this album. Go make yourself a PB&J and think of me while you eat it.)
Pentimento was headlining, and I have to admit that I’m only just a casual fan of these guys. I like their sound just fine, but last night was a game changer; now I’m on their jocks hard bro. It’s unclear to me how anyone could stand still during their set, but most of the room was going nuts and that shit is contagious. My legs are pretty sore today.
“Thanks for coming out on a school night!” Jeremiah, Pentimento’s frontman, joked. I cheered and laughed along with everyone else, but my 36-year-old self was crying on the inside. Please, I would never let something as insignificant as my age stand in the way of going to shows, but I’m not going to sit here and pretend that it isn’t occasionally awkward at certain times. At least this one seemed to have more college-aged people there.
I tweeted something similar to that after the show, and a guy who was there last night replied to let me know that he’s right behind me, turning 31 in a few weeks, and that he’ll forever be the old guy at shows. And I’m like “good for you, guy! don’t ever stop!” All I know is that I have definitely been having better experiences at shows in my 30s than ever before. This is going to sound amazingly contrary given the fact that I paint myself as someone who is really concerned about age (see also: last 8 sentences), but now that I’m older, I feel less pressure to look or act a certain way at shows, because who gives a fuck. I’m not there to impress a single person. Ultra Chill: Unlocked.
Later on, Jeremiah gave a very heartfelt mini-speech about how they aren’t sure how much longer they’re going to have the opportunity to live out their dream, and how they never know if a show they’re playing is going to be their last, but they never take it for granted. Hearing gratitude pouring forth from such a down to earth band really gives me hope that the scene isn’t entirely going down the shitter. And of course, I always picture my own kid up there and hope he can someday turn a passion into a career.
But then I started thinking about this in my own terms and had a mild panic attack because I don’t ever want to have that “last show” I go to but I know it’s inevitable, because hello mortality. My mind was reeling there for awhile until they started playing again and then everything in my head calmed down. You can’t do shit like that to me! My mind is fragile.
It’s such a good feeling when you go to a show alone and then once the show starts, you suddenly don’t feel like you’re alone anymore. It was a good crowd. A SPARSE crowd, but definitely good quality. Youth might be fleeting, but I’m not going to let go to this part of my life that easily, not when going to shows makes me feel so alive and hyper.
And if I ever stop feeling that way? Stick a fork in me, because I’m done.
This concludes another predictable chapter of the Emo Erin Diaries. Thank you for yawning, I mean, reading.