Jan 252016

After last month’s experience at the Smiling Moose, I wasn’t sure that I was ready to go back there again alone. But Hail the Sun was playing and I really wanted to see them because they bring me great joy, and after the last few week’s of feeling bogged down by…what? Dismal weather? Restlessness? Mental illness? Bad Mexicans? I really needed to get my ass to a show. It had been a month since the last one and that’s just unacceptable.

I was prepared to go alone, especially after Henry ignored the Hail the Sun Facebook invite I sent him. And then yesterday, he sent me a text that said, “Did you get tickets yet? Because it’s sold out.” And my face was flush with panic as my fingers quickly typed in the information to Facebook because one of the local bands on the bill was selling tickets directly and I was prepared to beg them for one. But then Henry was all, “Lol.”

I hate him.

Good thing I asked Janna to watch Chooch because Henry ended up going with me after all! I was in such a great mood because of it that I actually paused outside of the Smiling Moose in order to have a pleasant conversation about my ray-gun purse with some pink-haired lady smoking a cigarette. She asked if it was Betsey Johnson and I was all, “Ha! I wish. If it is, someone accidentally sold it to me for super cheap!” And then we talked about Betsey Johnson’s current line of things while Henry stood there, bored and cold.

That is how you know I’m in a fine mood: when I engage in real life, proper conversations with strangers!

It was happy hour when we got there, so Henry happily went to the bar in the back of the upstairs. For as many times as I have been there, I have never gone to the bar upstairs (only the main one downstairs) because I always go right to the front near the stage and people-watch, i.e. nervously text and tweet while watching people out of the corner of my eye. The first band was still setting up, so I  joined Henry and had whatever Arsenal Cider was on tap. Henry asked the bartender—who was super nice, and one of the best parts of the Smiling Moose; I fucking love their bartenders—what some kind of beer was and a man turned around and said, “If you like IPAs, you will really like that.”

Henry doesn’t like IPAs, whatever that means, so he was like awkwardly trying to thank the guy for his suggestion without actually ordering one.

I stood back there with Henry through two songs from the opening band, Scene Stage the World, but finally Henry sighed and said, “Go. I know it’s killing you” so I happily skipped away to the stage. I liked this band, but no offense to them since I have no clue what the meaning behind it is, but I really hate the name. I’ve had to double check 5 times to make sure I got it right because y brain just won’t accept it as a real thing.

After their set, I weaved my way back to the bar and saw that HENRY AND IPA GUY were talking! They looked like all ‘Nam buddies, too, all casual and comfortable against the bar, beers in hand, until I rolled up and it got awkward real fast. I caught the tail end of their conversation, and Henry was saying something like, “Yeah, I like them” about some band which is probably a total fucking lie because Henry likes nothing. My presence really put a damper on their budding romance though: the conversation seemed to taper off mid-stream and Henry’s new boy toy uncomfortably shifted away from the bar, leaving me and Henry standing there alone. Then he eventually drifted away.

“Whoa, did I interrupt something?” I laughed.

“What? No! He was just telling me that he came here from West Virginia to see that band. One of the guys is his downstairs neighbor or something…”

WHOA, he was telling Henry about his living situation?! UBER INTIMATE.

And that’s when I discovered that Henry, Mr. Ew, IPAs Are Yucky, had an IPA IN HIS HAND.

“It’s actually not bad,” he said, wiping foam off his mustache with the back of his hand. “It’s like….creamy. Here, try it!”

Bitch, get that glass of adultery out of my face.

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Processed with VSCOcam with 4 preset

Just then, someone walked by and Henry quietly shouted, “IS THAT DONOVAN? HE CUT HIS HAIR.”

For someone who doesn’t like any of the bands I take him to see, he sure as fuck can spot all the members. Yes, Henry, that was indeed the singer of Hail the Sun. Good job!

“That guy has a fake leg,” Henry whispered. “DON’T LOOK! I saw him adjusting it earlier.” This is what Henry does at shows. He rarely looks at the stage. So if you’re ever at a show and see Henry there, you better check yourself because he will definitely be watching.

Like the fucking background creeper that he is.

I ditched Henry again in favor of the second band, False Accusations. Before they even started playing, I felt like I had seen them before because their bassist especially looked very familiar to me. Then they started playing and hearts sprung out from my eye sockets and a crown of blue birds circled around my head.

The guitarist’s dad was in attendance, and he pushed his way through the crowd in order to snap some pics with his flip phone and I melted from the adorableness of it all. Turns out that the dad was also Henry’s fake-leg friend from the bar. He couldn’t wait to tell me afterward.

Anyway, I scoured my blog after their set, determined to figure out where I had seen them before, and it turns out that they were the opening band when we went to see Icarus the Owl 9/2014, but we had arrived during the tail end of their set and never caught their name. WELL, NOW I KNOW.

And this is why I continue to write on this thing regardless if people read it or not, because it sure beats relying on my own memory.

The third band was Makari, and I was excited to see them because I had heard of them and thought they were going to have that Blue Swan vibe that I love. But no. It was like something from a 2008 Rise Records showcase. I mean, they weren’t BAD, but they were kind of boring and the singer was a little annoying.

However, their bassist looked like a young Raising Arizona-era Nic Cage and I pretty  much spent their entire set marveling over that while trying to scream about into Henry’s furry ear. Henry just frowned in disagreement.

Makari doing Makari things. They’re from somewhere in Florida, but the singer told us that he was actually born in ALTOONA, PA which no one was that impressed about but I really wanted to scream, “DID YOU EVER GO TO LAKEMONT PARK!?!?!?” This was the most interesting part of their set for me.


That’s the wall where I almost died last time.

Before Hail  the Sun came on, I turned around to talk to Henry (trust me, it pained me to do so), and I noticed that two of the guys from Save Us From the Archon were there!

“Henry!” I urgently hissed at him. “I want to congratulate them for getting signed to Tragic Hero!”

“Oh my god,” Henry sighed. “Then just do it.” Which of course kickstarted the hamster wheel of self-doubt in my head. SHOULD I?!?!?! SHOULDN’T I!?!? HOW SHOULD I SAY IT!?!? WHAT IF I STUTTER?!?! Ugh, I hate myself. Some prog-head was chatting their ears off anyway, so that was my sign to just turn back around.

But then finally, finally, finally it was time for Hail the Sun and I rejoiced! This was maybe the sixth time we saw them live and I have to say, it was definitely my favorite. I love that Donovan is the drummer/singer JUST LIKE PHIL COLLINS but that they have someone slide in for him halfway through the set so that he can get up front and center and scream into our faces. I love watching Aric Garcia do his tight, concise head shakes, and I love watching maniacal Shane Gann show off his skills for all the prog nerds.

Just being there righted so many wrongs. This is the only drug I’ll ever need.

(I mean, unless I end up with some serious illness, then I guess I’ll consider taking actual drugs.)

This song especially rips out my heart every time:

My heart drops when the t-t-telephone rings..

I like turning to Henry afterward and saying, “Maybe…” with a shrug. And he just smirks and rolls his eyes. Because he knows that I’ll probably starve if our lives ever divide.

The crowd was great, better than I could have imagined that night. That’s not to say that it didn’t smell like piss and B.O. up in there, because it still definitely did. Probably more so than the last few times I’ve been there, to be honest.


Set List:

  • Will They Blame Me If You Go Disappearing?
  • Cosmic Narcissism
  • Paranoia
  • Rolling Out the Red Carpet
  • Human Target Practice
  • Falling On Deaf Ears
  • Black Serotonin
  • Relax / Divide
  • Ow! (Splidao!) [I Like It, Though]
  • Anti-Eulogy (I Hope You Stay Dead)
  • Railmaster
  • Eight-Ball, Coroner’s Pocket

I wanted to buy merch afterward but Cheap Henry had no cash on him (ON PURPOSE probably) so I was like, “Fine, forget it!” and we left. On the way back to the car though, I saw AJ and Samantha from Save Us From the Archon, so I stopped them and just quickly let the congratulations blurt out of my mouth without thinking too much about it. They were super stoked about it and formally introduced themselves; it was wonderful and I was so thankful that Henry had kept walking because he always makes me feel 150% more stupid about fan-girling. When I caught up with him, he laughed and said, “Happy now?” YES, THANKS.


When we got back to our house, I noticed that Janna had driven HER MOTHER’S CAR to our house!

“OMG does she know you drove her car, JANNA?!” I cried while laughing hysterically.

“Yeah!” Janna scoffed, already regretting this poor choice of vehicle. “My car needs inspected so she told me to take hers!” she added defensively.

“BUT DID SHE REALLY!??!” I screamed, practically squatting to keep from peeing my pants. Janna just rolled her eyes. Then I took a picture of Janna’s mom’s car to send to Corey.




OMG, TEARS. This will never get old.

What night, man.



  One Response to “Unscathed: A Gentle Evening at the Smiling Moose”

  1. Henry ignored your Facebook invite? Jesus, how rude.

    “After their set, I weaved my way back to the bar and saw that HENRY AND IPA GUY were talking!”

    At first I was pretty excited because maybe IPA Guy was also in the Service. But no. :(

    “Then they started playing and hearts sprung out from my eye sockets and a crown of blue birds circled around my head.”

    Exactly. Righting wrongs is what that language does. <3 <3

    "I love that Donovan is the drummer/singer JUST LIKE PHIL COLLINS"

    OH MY HEART!!!

    No no, it's completely cool that you congratulated them on getting signed. They're probably so happy anyone pays attention to that stuff at all.

    Janna's mom's car. I'm sitting in my office laughing about this and I wasn't even there.

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