As a sort of foreword to the opinion I’m about to drop, I’d like to start by saying that Craigery Owens is someone who has touched my heart over the years. So much that I paid someone to paint a small portrait of him, which hangs on my wall. So much that I drove to Cleveland to see his solo performance and also give him one of my own paintings, which he inspired. So much that I cried when I heard of his suicide attempt during the summer of 2008.
That being said, you can imagine that I, like so many of his staunch supporters, was really upset when he was let go from Chiodos last fall. Like, heart-droppingly upset. Like “this must be some sort of a mistake” upset. And like so many of you, I felt betrayed by Chiodos and I vowed to not give a shit about any future music they might happen to produce if they had the balls to carry on without their signature voice.
But then I thought back to the winter of 2008 when they met my son, who was not quite two-years-old yet, and took such a genuine liking to him (particularly ex-drummer Derrick Frost). And that memory started to dissipate my anger. That memory enabled me to remember that Chiodos was not ever just Craig Owens. It was also Bradley, Derrick, Pat, Jason and Matt. And each one of those guys is overloaded with talent in their own right.
There are always two sides.
When the Craigery-less Chiodos announced the addition of new singer Brandon Bolmer last year, my first thought was, “Poor dude. Poor, poor dude.” The shoes he was about to step into were not only huge, but sacred in this scene.
Live videos began popping up on YouTube. Videos of the new Chiodos, with Brandon singing “Letter From Janelle.”
“This is like sacrilege,” I thought. But then I saw a video of a new song, “Caves,” and I realized that this new singer kind of had a nice voice. And this new song was kind of better than nice.
And you know what else? Craig seemed to quickly bounce back and soon began piquing his fans’ interests with cryptic tweets about new music, a new band. Knowing that made me feel relieved, kind of like finding out your ex was dating again so you didn’t have to feel guilty anymore for moving on. I realized I could support Chiodos and Craig at the same time, that there was no real post-hardcore “bro code” telling me this was unacceptable.
I pre-ordered Chiodos’ “Illuminaudio” without so much as a twinge of guilt. And when it arrived the other day, I was no more than 30 seconds into the first track when the tears began to fall, goosebumps done sprung. It made me realize that all the times I described something as breath-taking? I was lying. It took Illuminaudio to literally make me momentarily stop breathing for me to learn that lesson. Chiodos succeeded in weaving 12 tracks together with more craftmanship than your grandma’s Amish-made quilt.
In a recent interview in Alternative Press, Brandon had expressed concern that he would not be well-received by the hardcore fans of Craigery-era Chiodos. Brandon, I am here to tell you to stop your worrying. Those big shoes? They spillith over, my friend.
Brandon doesn’t try to emulate Craig’s vocals. He sings with heart and conviction; he brings with him an urgency that’s perfectly synced with the tight music chugging out behind him. This album is twelve songs sung by a man who has something to prove, backed by the intense post-hardcore metallics of a band who have something to prove.
One listen was all it took to make me a believer in Chiodos v.2.
This is a brand new Chiodos. This is a finely aged Chiodos.
So there’s a new singer. Bummer city. But this is still your Chiodos, bare-footed Jason Hale, keyboard-lurching Bradley Bell and all, who practically bled out in a studio to make a record for you. Don’t turn your backs on them. I have a feeling they might even recruit some of those vitriolic, Absolute Punk-trolling bashers of Craig Owens’ love-it-or-hate-it falsetto. Change is hard, I know. But if we all stay strong and braid each others hair, I promise you we can survive a line-up change.
Still can’t justify giving your Chiodos boycott a reprieve? Then you’re depriving yourself of a fucking anthemic, brilliantly accomplished album that segues with flawless cohesion between the scourgingly heavy (“Modern Wolf Hair”) and the shimmering melodic (“Notes in Constellations”). You’re missing out on the earworm-breeding (“Caves” – have you heardthis song? I challenge you to listen and not get it lodged in your cochlea. It’s hypnotic.)And with Mr. T’s ferocity I pity the fool who passes up a guest spot that will make all the scene girls squeal* (Pierce the Veil’s Vic Fuentes in the tongue-in-cheek “Love Is a Cat From Hell”). Sucks to be you. If you need me, I’ll just be over here in the corner, blissed out on Illuminaudio. And soon I’ll add the product of Craig’s new band, D.R.U.G.S., to the rotation. I guess I’m just greedy like that.
Unless you literally know absolutely nothing about me, you know that I have a special place in my heart for Craigery Owens, right next to Robert Smith’s property. But to me, Chiodos was never just Craig, so unlike all the fans who have been bitching and screaming about the audacity of Chiodos forging ahead without Craig, I’m excited about it. From the live videos and the Equal Vision teaser above, I think their new singer Brandon (formerly of Yesterday’s Rising) has proven to be a great match.
As long as Chiodos continues making music, I’ll continue supporting them! They’ve been too big a part of my life for the last five years for me to stop loving them now.
“Oh, here’s some [Lawfirm] history for you, Erin,” Barb said yesterday out of the blue. “You remember that guy who shot all those women at the gym last summer—”
“YES!” I answered way too hungrily.
Barb looked at my crazy woman eyes for a few seconds before continuing. “Well, he used to work here.”
“I know!” I shouted, leaving out the part where I was that much more eager to get the job because of that. “In fact, when i was waiting to hear if I got the job, my friend jokingly said, ‘If they hired THAT guy, you should be a shoo-in’.”
Barb laughed. “Gee, what does THAT say about you?”
Yes, what indeed?
“Anyway, the reason I brought it up is because I just found a bunch of old emails from him. He was one of the ones who created [the program our department uses] and he was helping me last year when I had a problem,” Barb told me. “Gives me the creeps to see his name in my Outlook.” She shook her shoulders in a mock shiver.
I wanted so badly to ask her to forward one of them to me.
Prior to that, I was explaining the meaning behind my tattoo to Barb. One of the girls here overheard me say Chiodos, and not only has she heard of them, but she likes them too.
Is this what home feels like?? I mean, minus Henry’s dirty socks strewn around carelessly and Chooch’s screeching obscenities?
I waited all year for Warped Tour. It’s the closest thing to Christmas I have in my life and I savor every fucking second of it. It’s music music music all day long. And I do love that there music. This year, we were going to attempt to take Chooch, but ticket prices were raised and since we’re going back to one income, we decided to pawn him off on Janna. I think he ended up having a day just as full as ours, anyway. (Thank you, Janna!)
We stood in line for a good half hour because I made sure we got there as soon as the lot opened, which was an hour before the actual gates open, because I’m tightly wound and panicked for a week about the possibility of missing a band I really like because they don’t announce set times until that morning, and and and omg someone get me a valium. There was an abandoned mother standing next to Henry and every time I looked over at her, she’d catch my eye and every time it looked like she wanted to strike up a conversation, but instead she’d just smile. Henry was getting uncomfortable because she kept standing so close to him. I thought it was cute, in a “When Oldies Collide” sort of way.
The good thing about standing in line, besides scene kid-watching, is accumulating free shit and demos from members of small local bands. One of those bands was Remember Thy Name, who were handing out flyers which had their set time and stage info on it and urging everyone to check them out. Since the flyer touched my hand and I said “OK I will” out loud to the dude, I felt obliged to make good on my word. And then I went back to bouncing up and down and squealing “I’m so excited!” in Henry’s ear until they finally opened the door to my own version of Heaven and we all pushed our way in only to stand around looking dumb and confused like lost puppies. You know, the usual.
Henry and I aren’t mean enough to make Blake and Deanna hang with old people all day, so we said goodbye to them and then continued roaming around and looking lost and confused.
Luckily, we got inside with enough time to find the appropriate stage and check out Remember Thy Name. One of my favorite moments of the day was when we approached the side of the stage just in time to be met with a barrage of guttural bellows and machine gun drumming, causing Henry to mutter, “Oh yay, I love them already.” I actually did end up loving them, a lot. Thank you for soliciting me in the parking lot, Remember Thy Name.
It had only been about thirty minutes since we began mingling with Western Pennsylvania’s finest collection of kids, and Henry already looked like a billboard for Advil. Perhaps he was sad that he didn’t bring enough money for concert gear. Last year, I know he had his eyes on some booty shorts.
We got to catch a little bit of Underoath’s set on the mainstage (another band that makes Henry grit his teeth) before shouldering our way to the Hurley stage for Bayside. I figured Henry would probably appreciate their set because they’re not screamo and the crowd was decidedly older and less scene. Yet, every time I asked him if he liked them, he’d mumble, “They were OK.” What he was thinking was probably, “They’re no Kansas.” But whatever, they wound up being one of my favorite sets of the day. And it was nice getting to be up close and not having to worry about having my neck broken. Although, throughout the day, I kept seeing some girl with a neckbrace and found myself in an oddly uncomfortable state of covetry.
So, if you’ve read this blog a few times you probably won’t be shocked to find out that I was primarily there for one band. As in, the price of the ticket was worth a thirty-minute set by them alone and I could’ve left straight after and have been happy. Chiodos, main stage, 1:55.
I dragged Henry up to the front of the stage just as Flogging Molly was finishing up. Chiodos are worth the risk of having my brittle, over-aged bones cracked and acquiring attractive barrier bruises along my ribcage. I’m still not too fond of having bitches dropped on my head, so my peripheral vision has to be on-call for this shit.
We could see Chiodos behind the stage, getting ready, and I had a fifteen-year-old girl moment when Bradley returned my wave with spirit fingers. I fucking love Bradley. And then I had a twenty-nine-year-old adult moment when some skanky bitch behind me repeatedly screamed JOEY! into my ear and I don’t know who I hated more: the skank and her skank-shout, or Joey for not hearing her skanky beckoning from all the way in the center of the massive throng of kids that had accumulated in preparation for Chiodos. Fucking answer her, Joey!
They opened with Undertaker’s Thirst for Revenge is Unquenchable and I was stoked when Nick Martin (Underminded) came out to scream. He’s on the album-version of that song and in the video, and he was on Craig’s solo tour last spring, but I have never seen him live on stage with Chiodos. I squealed. Several times. Even tugged Henry’s arm. It’s kind of like that feeling when you think you’re only going to be having sex with one person that night, but then surprise! Menage a trois. What a fucking treat.
Nick Martin can scream in my face all day and I would still beg for more.
And at one point, Jag from A Skylit Drive filled a small guest spot on vocals. It’s exciting to me when people play musical-bands at Warped Tour, because when else could you see, say, Jeffree Star sharing a stage with Breathe Carolina? Not that that’s a good thing.
I liked watching the expressions of security when Craig decided, during “A Letter From Janelle,” that he wanted to get as many people crowd-surfing as possible. Like they really needed to be told. I love watching this, kids simultaneously popping up into the sky everywhere, like some bizarre birthing art-installation. It never gets old for me. Until some motherfucker’s shoe knocks me unconscious. Then I probably won’t enjoy watching too much after that.
Yes, I pay money to be immersed in this.
Nick came out again and was all crouched down at the edge of the stage, completely in an angry-scream zone, and BSouth (The Receiving End of Sirens – RIP to a great band) kept nudging him with his foot until Nick ended up on the shoulders of one of the security guys, never missing a beat. I think it was my favorite moment of the day, aside from Henry’s anguish, which was less of a moment and more of, you know, THE ENTIRE DAY AS A WHOLE. But he likes Chiodos, I know it.
They ended the much-too-short 30 minute set with “There’s No Penguins In Alaska,” which I hope reminded them that their hockey team were bested by the Penguins. Oh, burn.
They didn’t play any new songs, so that was a bit of a bummer. Craig has been taunting everyone on Twitter with tiny updates about the new album they’re writing and I was hoping he’d toss us rabid fans a bone. But they did my favorites: “Baby, You Wouldn’t Last a Minute on the Creek” and “The Word ‘Best Friend’ Becomes Redefined” (still not fantastical tattoo-tingling during it, though).
We took a break in the shade so I could eat my contraband protein bar lunch. Henry looks like his labret is pierced in this photo but I think it’s just lint. Old men have lint.
I did some Versa Emerge-stalking for Alisha, since she couldn’t be there to (not) do it herself.
I kept touching the camera lens all day long, as this photo denotes. This was right after Deanna informed Henry that two people holding hands does not mean they’re going out. Or as Henry still says: “Going together.”
One of the bands that surprised me the most was A Skylit Drive. I missed most of their set because they played the same time as Versa Emerge and I was trying to split the sets so I could see both. But I made it to their stage in time to hear enough to fall in love. They ended with “Eva the Carrier” and I fucking almost started crying. The singer sounds like how I imagine a mer-man to sing: high-pitched and ethereal, like wetting your finger and running it around the lip of a crystal goblet. The stage they were playing on was the one under the ampitheater and the acoustics of it sent his voice traveling all the way up to where we sat, making chills drip down my spine.
I’ve been listening to that song 15x a day ever since.
Henry was not impressed. Like, at all. And somehow, he later managed to sleep through Dance Gavin Dance’s and Black Tide’s entire sets. I twitpic’d a photo of him sleeping, and my friend Matt had the good call of replying with “Hahaha, what’s up Father Time.” INDEED.
Warped Tour abominations:
1. Millionaires. A trio of half-naked skanks hopping around on stage, and lip-synching rapping. They had about as much rhythm as me and all I could make out was “Fuck” being slung incessantly because probably they are too vapid to come up with anything else. You know, GOOD RAPS like I used to write under the Glocks On Our Dicks alias.
2. Jeffree Star.
I know people bitch about how Warped Tour has taken the punk ethos and raped it silly, but I’ve always admired Kevin Lyman’s ballsiness in adding screamo, metalcore, and dance punk into the mix. I think that there’s a really great mixture of music in the lineup and if there’s not at least one band you can be down with, then probably these things just aren’t for you in the first place. However, I have a big problem with shit like Jeffree Star and Millionaires because it’s hokey and if what Gabe Sapora says about Millionaries is true (that if you don’t like the, you just don’t get the joke) then that’s a little insulting to those of us who give shit about music. And as for Jeffree Star, he doesn’t care about his music, he’s just in it for shock value from what I can see, and that’s not very punk rock.
But maybe I’m just old and jaded.
I wonder if their pubes are that natty. If so, it must be a real BITCH for the STDs to get through, like a dolphin in netting.
One of the last bands of the day was Dear and the Headlights, a band I’ve loved long time, but have never seen live. I can’t tell you how excited I was. Too bad they weren’t very fun. I mean, they sounded great, but seemed very aloof on stage and kind of ambivalent to the prospect of playing at Warped Tour. And then the singer asked what everyone wanted to hear and some girl near me yelled “Daysleeper” and I was like, “Oh yes, God yes, play Daysleeper” because that’s my favorite, and so he proceeded to ask, “Um, why that one? It didn’t even make any of our albums.” And there was something slightly condescending about how he said it, so that made me lose a little love. Although, I too was a little cranky by that point so maybe I won’t hold it against them. They ended up never playing “Daysleeper” though, those cocksuckers.
Thank god I follow Craig Owens on Twitter, else I might not have known about the handful of pre-Warped dates they decided to schedule in several very lucky cities (and that he can still remember what his first girlfriend smells like, wtf Craig). I was prepared to be let down when I checked the dates, and I wasn’t surprised at all to see that Pittsburgh wasn’t getting any love. However, Columbus was on the list and it happened to fall on a Friday so tickets were snatched up on the ASAP. Originally, Alisha was going to accompany me, but due to a very sad family matter that had her flying back home to Arkansas last week, Henry became her fill-in.
And he was thrilled. THRILLED. And on a road trip with me clocking in at 6 hours round-trip, who wouldn’t be? (Don’t answer that.)
The drive started out rocky, last minute snafus had us leaving the house thirty minutes later than I would have liked. And then Henry bought shitty pretzels to snack on and everyone knows (or should) that pretzels rate a negative one on my road trip snackability chart. But at least I got to whine the entire time about how starved I was, which is at the top of Henry’s pet peeve list and always makes him snap, “You’re not STARVED! You might be HUNGRY, but you’re not STARVING. Let me put you in the desert for a week with no food and then you will know what it’s like to be starving.” To which I always remind him that, like every other spoiled teenage girl looking for a reason to suffer, I was anorexic for AT LEAST two weeks when I was 14 so I know plenty well what it feels like to starve.
Then Henry talked about stuff that I don’t care about, like his work and his days in the SERVICE, but I distracted myself with a highway mix consisting of Frank Turner, A Camp, Sights and Sounds, and This City Needs Guns. (And, not gonna lie, some old school Taking Back Sunday.)
We stopped in some rustic Ohio lake town a few miles outside of Columbus, in search of something more filling than pretzels. We settled on Subway, and I left Henry alone to describe to the sandwich artist what I wanted while I tried to make it in and out of the bathroom unscathed. I was almost successful, except that my ring got snagged on my underwear and somehow that resulted in me performing the most retarded, uncoordinated, grand scale version of a Cats Cradle and I broke a slight sweat across my brow and wondered how noticeable it would be if I exited the bathroom with a swath of pink-hearted cotton dangling from my thumb like a pennant someone might wave after date raping a cheerleader.
You can stop holding your breath now because after I realized it would be more sensible to remove my ring and not my underwear, my confidence returned and I thought to myself, “I am not going to be bested by a fucking steampunk beetle ring” and the next thing I knew, I had come out on the other side of the untangling process with little more than a bent leg on my beetle and somehow my lipstick was smeared. Unfortunately, the rush I experienced from winning that battle was negated when I realized that the sub Henry designed for me was little more than a mayo sandwich.
In Columbus, we were immediately met with traffic coming off the highway. I was OK with this because in our neighboring lane could be found a gang of aging bikers trying so hard to look tough when I just knew deep down they were aching to slip into a comfy pair of deck shoes. Each bike was radiating a different country song and it was just one of those things that provoked my inner giddiness and I completely lost control. I was laughing so hard that I was doubled over in my seat, tears streaming down my face, Henry ordering me to “knock it off.”
“They’re probably going to a country music concert, I bet that’s why there’s so much traffic,” Henry postulated because he knows everything. I asked him what he was using as evidence and he pointed up ahead. “There’s a woman holding a sign for tickets and she looks like a country music fan.”
It turned out to be a homeless woman, holding a sign for food. And besides, all the homeless people I’ve ever known have been into bluegrass and Appalachian murder ballads.
Meanwhile, we had made it onto another street and were still flanked by the bikers. “Oh please, can I say something to them?” I wheezed through peals of laughter. People in surrounding cars were starting to stare, and that only made me laugh harder and Henry grimace deeper.
“Say something like what?” Henry snapped. “They’re not even doing anything.” Here is where he began rubbing his temples.
“But they think they’re so hardcore, look at them! They’re so funny!” And here is where I began trying not to piss my pants. “How is this not funny to you?” At this point, I could barely speak, the hilarity was choking me, no lie. I wanted one of them so badly to crank the Seals and Croft.
“It’s apparently only funny to you younger generation assholes,” Henry muttered. Then he made a left hand turn from the center lane and pissed off a bunch of people, which only doubled my hysteria. And then when he went to pay the attendant of a parking lot, the attendant said he didn’t have change so Henry had to dig through his pockets for quarters and I’ll tell you, at this point I thought I was going to have to be hospitalized for laughter-induced rib-cracking. Ooooh boy, Henry was so pissed off at me, too.
We ended up walking toward the venue in the middle of a family. “Let’s pretend like we’re with these people,” I whispered loudly, “so it looks like we belong here.”
“Uh, I’m actually pretending like I’m not with YOU,” Henry answered, right before he tried to trick me into going the opposite direction. And in our adopted family was a group of little boys who were talking excitedly, and at one point I heard the words “Stanley Cup” and “Penguins.” Waiting to cross the street, I blatantly eavesdropped, which made Henry uncomfortable. When there was a pause in their conversation, I blurted out, “The Penguins are going to win.” It came out real snotty, too, I have no idea why. And in unison, they all started praising the Penguins too and Henry grabbed me by the elbow and scolded me for talking to small children. “That’s creepy!” he whispered.
“I’m talking to them about hockey, not trying to flash a tit,” I argued. Fucking hockey, man. Even when I’m about to see one of my favorite bands it’s on the forefront of my dumb mind.
The show was at the Basement, which is probably one of the smallest venues I’ve ever been to. This is what Chiodos had promised too — they wanted it as intimate as possible and that’s exactly what they got. It was a sold out show, so I was glad I bought tickets the day it was announced.
We sat at the bar and I immediately hated every person there. This was enhanced the more I drank until I was eventually shaking and Henry had to babysit me only because he’s too much of a pussy to throw a blow after I provoke dudes. (I almost always target jock-y bro-types when I drink.) On this particular occasion, there were two assholes who had feet upon free of empty floor but chose to stand flush against the back of my bar stool. Just what I wanted, generic frat boy ornaments on my back. But it only got worse once they opened their mouths and never shut up. The smaller of the two had this horrible high-pitched voice that could have given him a great future at Hanna-Barbera and he was relentlessly trash-talking Pittsburgh and I was doing that thing that sometimes you see crazy people do in sanitariums where they laugh hysterically and maniacally but their eyes are screaming, “Look at me now you motherfucker, oh ho ho ho I’m so fucking pissed that I can’t stop laughing at how rewarding it’s going to be when I impale you with a fistful of broken glass and rip your voice box out through the shredded flesh wound” and several times I swiveled in my chair and we made eye contact and Henry was murmuring, “Fucking stop, let it go” because he was only in the Air Force so his fighting skills consist of the shove-and-run method.
And then the other bro was a veritable fount of music knowledge and I laughed disgustedly as he stood behind me, raping facts up the ass with a Nickleback poster. He said that Isles and Glaciers were made up of members of MxPx and some other guys too and I looked at Henry with my mouth agape and loudly asked, “Is he fucking retarded?” and I know that 99% of the people reading this are like, “OK who cares” BUT I DO. I was raging so hard, my heart thumping so angrily, that it’s times like that when I begin to wonder if someone’s been slipping me unbeknownst steroid shakes.
This is why I try to abstain from drinking at shows.
The opening band, Miss May I, started around that time and those assholes found somewhere else to stand which is probably a good thing because they didn’t look like they were opposed to punching a girl in the face. (Which is surprising that this hasn’t happened yet.)
So Miss May I were boisterous and guttural, which is just what I needed right then. I liked them a lot a lot a lot and that’s only partially related to the fact that Henry hated them.
After them was my new favorite band, Your Best Friend. I knew their music beforehand and was very excited to see them live. They didn’t disappoint one bit. Even with a slightly slurred and sluggish attention span, I was captivated through the entire set. The next day, I immediately ordered their CD. Midwestern emo will always get Valentines from my heart.
I was also excited to see the Silent Years, who played next, because I have liked what I’ve heard from them in the past (this song, specifically). Unfortunately, like a lot of indie music in general lately, they sounded good but just didn’t hold my attention. (I go through phases.) That could also have something to do with the fact that Craig was sitting five seats away from me at the bar.
My favorite member of Chiodos, drummer Derrick Frost, recently left the band, so it was somewhat sad not seeing him that night. Every other member walked past me at some point throughout the night and I would softly say, “Aw, yay.”
Eschewing the large stage and fancy lights did little to reduce the fullness of their sound; they were giants up there on that tiny stage and when they played “The Words ‘Best Friend’ Become Redefined” my tattoo didn’t ignite with blue flames and regenerate the dead parts of my heart like I had hoped, but it sure felt good to trace it and have a very important decision reaffirmed.
They were amazing as usual, and while I had mega sad-face when it was over, I was not sad to leave the Basement and the stench of 200 sweaty scene kids behind me. I feel lucky that I got to see them, and that I have a (somewhat) nice boyfriend who went with me. I was sad to not have Alisha there, but it was still nice to get to spend some quality time with the old man. Especially on the three hour drive home, when he was fighting to stay awake and I was too drunk to relieve him at the wheel, so I blasted some Dillinger Escape Plan. Smarties!
Yesterday, after months and months of waiting, I finally got my tattoo. It’s not my first, but it’s the only one that means anything to me, and because of that I was having silent panic attacks on the way to Black Cat Tattoos. (But also, I like to exaggerate my whininess with little to no cause, just for kicks. I know, so many of you are shocked by that revelation.) These are lyrics from a Chiodos song, and it’s sort of my unofficial motto. And also, in light of recent best friend backstabbing, it’s even more significant because the name of the song is “The Word ‘Best Friend’ Become Redefined” which it most certainly has been for me this year. I hope it will serve as a reminder that my friendship with Christina wasn’t what I thought it was, so that I will not be stupid enough to give her yet another second chance. (Seriously, I think she was up to EIGHT second chances in five short years.)
Minus the lettering, this was drawn by my friend Merry, who knows of the impact the lyrics have on me. I had sent her a sketch of what I had in mind, and after sketching a few options for me, this was the one I fell in love with. I love that she kept a femininity to it while still bringing in some Burton elements (which is what I wanted), because I think it’s a good off-set to the semi-dark words. I didn’t want to go overboard by dude-ing it up with harsh skulls and flames.
I should have just stuck with it from the get-go, but I’m always open to what other people come up with; so when I was there a few weeks ago making the appointment and handing over the sketch, I agreed to let Jason come up with another option for me. I liked what he came up with, but felt that it was a little too masculine for my girly forearm, and after the third or fourth change I made, I finally said, quietly, “Can we use the original?” Luckily, he was super patient and said numerous times, “You won’t hurt my feelings! Just make sure it’s exactly what you want.” Not every artist is like that, so it was appreciated and made me not want to run away.
Jason added the lettering and in like, 0.5 seconds I knew it was exactly what I wanted.
Alisha met me there and made mean faces at me and tried to act like she wasn’t from Arkansas. Even though she instigates me, I was glad to have her there. And I mean, who doesn’t like sitting there, watching someone get tattooed? I think there’s something written about that in the Temptation chapter of the Bible.
The whole session was fun, and Jason talked to us the whole time (another thing that not all tattooists do and that is SO AWKWARD when you have to sit there in silence and your every attempt at conversation is met with grunts, if anything at all). It only took about an hour, and while he was working on me, Dyanna was on the other side of the room getting tattooed by Jason’s girlfriend Cara, whom I know from back in the days of LiveJournal, so it was cool to see her. (LJ, holla.) She got the word “Blink” on her wrist, and considered messing the lettering beforehand to make it prettier, but I was all, “Don’t worry, you can come back later and get a unicorn next to it” and I know she totally will too.
I love Jason’s work. He wasn’t even a quarter of the way done with it, and I was already making big plans to dump Henry and just make out with my forearm for the rest of my life. Then I was like, “Can you add some purple shading? You know, to make it pop” and immediately felt like a gaybo.
I have always left tattoo shops thinking, “Where should I go next?” This was the first time I was like, “Hey dude, I’ll be back.” Thank you for putting up with me, Jason!
It was back to Cleveland on Sunday to catch Craig Owens on his solo run. I was so thankful that it was another weekend show, otherwise I probably wouldn’t have made it and then you’d all have to suffer through bitchy angst-ridden posts for at least two weeks. Another thing I was thankful for was the fact that Alisha and I dusted off our friendship earlier in the year and that she was willing to spend time with me in an enclosed space and see some bands she didn’t know much about. Thank god for Alisha!
Before we exited Pennsylvania, we stopped at Ruby Tuesday’s for lunch, and I brought in my empty Starbucks cup in hopes of disposing it because I have issues about leaving garbage in the car, something Henry is very insensitive of, do not get me started, DO NOT. My anxiety of seeing Craig Owens was starting to make me do stupid things, like squeal a lot, squirt soap all over my arm in the restroom, and stash the empty coffee cup in my purse UPSIDE DOWN upon discovering there was no garbage can outside the restaurant, so Alisha suggested I order an adult beverage. She slid the drink menu toward me, but I go, “No, I’m good. Seriously.” I think she was relieved when I ordered water instead of more coffee, but after a few more minutes of me giggling degenerately and doing weird breathing exercises, she was all, “No really, I insist” and then I found myself getting carded over a Sangria which made me VERY HAPPY. Especially when I got to pull my ID out of my iCarly purse.
After we left, I realized that when I retardedly stashed the empty coffee cup upside down in my purse, the remnants spilled out right onto the painting I made for Craig. Henry had painstakingly (not really, but he did act put-out that I asked him to do it) wrapped it for me that morning and it was completely stained on one side. “I can’t give him something that looks like it was fished from a dumpster, what the fuck am I going to do?” and I could tell that Alisha was preparing to pull over and have me sedated, but I was OK once I peeled the painting out and saw that it remained untainted. The envelope to the card, however, was also stained. So I outlined it and turned it into a dumb little creature and prayed for the best.
There was a rogue diaper strewn across the backseat, and I considered wrapping the painting in that, you know, to keep it safe and give it some pizzazz. “I can guarantee he’s never received anything wrapped in a diaper,” Alisha said. And it would soften the blow when I lost my nerve to hand it to him, and ended up chucking it at his head and bolting. But ultimately, I decided that messing with it any further would likely turn into a disaster, so I stashed the painting in the backseat and tried very hard to forget about it.
And then I was fine, really fucking fine, until we made it to Cedar Road, which was the third to the last street we needed before reaching the Grog Shop. That’s when I started getting all stupid and dizzy-feeling and Alisha began tensing up because my anxiety was contagious and then I fucked up the directions and she cried a little. It was an amazing 15 mile track of emotional roller coaster. And it only got better after we parked and began walking the street, looking for a place to pee, only to settle on a grocery store in which I accidentally locked myself in the restroom and then BROKE MY ICARLY PURSE trying to break out. It was awful. Who was going to take me seriously without a purse that says “LOL” on the zipper pull?
Because I’m not normal, I really enjoy standing in line before doors open. It’s a great opportunity to people watch and make enemies, which almost always is inevitable. This time it was immediate, so that was fucking lovely. I overheard a girl behind me mention she had seen Chiodos last year at Club Zoo, so I excused myself for butting in, and then asked, “Are you from Pittsburgh? We’re from Pittsburgh,” you know, just trying to make convo with someone to kill time. Well, this dumb ginger bitch was all, “Um, yeah, kind of, but not really” but the way she said it? It came out like a word-encapsulated scoff dipped in a vat of holy attitude jam and wrapped in pretension and I swear to god I wanted to punch it right back into her crooked-toothed maw. It was like a hobo having the audacity to speak to Paris Hilton, is exactly what she made me feel like. My hate bell was ding dang RUNG, bitches.
A few minutes later, I heard her complain about there being so many scene kids there and my palms were instantly half-mooned. Seriously? What did she think SHE was with her Stay Positive hoodie, day-glo t-shirt and seam-popping skinny jeans? And you all know how deep my scene kid love runs, so she was really stirring my pot. And she had hideous lime green eye liner on and I wanted to spit on her eyeballs and scrub it off with a Brillo pad, that dumb whore. You are in line with a bunch of people who share the same love of music as you do, so put a fucking hat on the hate, Jesus Christ. I wouldn’t even be making fun of her right now if she hadn’t opened up the ignorance spout. I can’t stand that shit.
Oh, and she thought she was a regular Chelsea Handler too, with her dead-panned commentary of every fucker who walked past us. I kept making faces at Alisha and hissing, “SHE IS SO NOT FUNNY WTF??” And unbeknownst to me, one of her minions heard me talking shit on her and ratted me out. Alisha knew of this, and was wise enough to not tell me until much later when we were inside because she didn’t feel like dealing with a fight. But evidently the girl was all, “I don’t care!” and Alisha said something else non-threatening was said but it wasn’t bad enough for her to remember I guess. And when she told me this, we were sitting at the bar, and I found myself scanning the room looking for that douchebarrel so I could kill her. Alisha reminded me that she was underage. I DON’T CARE.
So no, I guess that pickled tampon really wasn’t a scene kid; she wasn’t awesome enough.
Aside from that. the wait in line was cold yet entertaining. We got to watch some boys in front of act like assholes with a half-full bottle of Vitamin Water and Alisha was braced to call 911. It ended up bursting at one point, the contents splashing right past my feet. I cried, “I so knew that was going to happen!” and they were genuinely apologetic, which I was NOT expecting. They kept asking, “Are you sure it didn’t get on your shoes? I’m so sorry!” and then the one boy was all, “And those are really cool shoes, too, by the way” and I was like, “OMG a scene kid accepted me!” and I was so happy and Alisha was like, “You are so pathetic” but I could NOT STOP SMILING even though it was like 40 degrees and I wasn’t wearing a coat. I seriously smile like a mentally incapacitated farm hand the entire time. When I later relayed to Henry that for once people were approaching me left and right, I hypothesized that it must be my darker hair. But Henry goes, “No, it’s because you didn’t have a 44-year-old man standing next to you.” Touche, Henry.
There was also this crazy phenomenon where, no matter where we stood, passers-by trying to get into the neighboring sports bar or Chipotle would always cut in front of us. But not without a warm “Excuse me” and a smile. Alisha was getting annoyed, and finally deduced that it was because of me, not her, because she was not wearing an inviting expression like I was. “I’m like, the golden entrance,” I said with a shrug, and then decided that sounded like a porno so it became even more apropos. Alisha’s final straw was when some guy said, “Chinese cut!” before squeezing past us. I couldn’t stop laughing. Two of the guys from VersaEmerge — the fantastic opening band — chose me to squeeze past as well, and they were both very gentlemanly and friendly about it. Especially the drummer, with whom I wound up dancing in my effort to step out of his way when he tried to enter the Grog Shop, and we shared a laugh over that so you know, we’re bros now obviously. And every time this would happen, I would turn to Alisha and laugh and she would roll her eyes.
Inside, the doorman was all taken aback that I was ready to greet him with my ID, because apparently we were the first people over-21 he had encountered in line so far. It was hilarious, but once the room started filling up, I was shocked at how many older people had turned out to support Craig. It was a beautiful thing. Especially since we sat at the bar most of the night and I proceeded to get drunk off cider and walk into the men’s room two fucking times in a row, like it was my first time in a fucking bar.
VersaEmerge and The Color Fred preceded Craig, and both had excellent sets, although Fred’s went on a little longer than we liked. It had a little to do with the fact that he broke a string, twice, and only had one guitar. Both times that happened, he allowed people to go on stage and tell a joke while he rushed to restring. One of my Vitamin Water friends went up and told a joke and I was like, “OMG YES!” and clapped and screamed real loud, and Alisha was all, “STFU.” But that was our BOY Tony, I said to her! And then I wondered aloud if he still had a price sticker on his ass, which Alisha prevented me from telling him about in line because it would be too “mom-like.”
But VersaEmerge were incredible, and not just because the singer was a really hot chick with magnificent scene hair. Alisha ran off to buy their EP but swore it had nothing to do with her fast-developing crush. And later, we chatted with their bassist Devin, when he came over to the bar for a drink and I had to rub my eyes because that boy did not look 21. He was very down-to-earth and personable, and seemed genuinely humbled when he saw Alisha’s copy of their EP resting on the bar in front of her. After he retreated with his drinks, the bartender paused to talk to us about how nice he was, and how she’s much more willing to cater to bands who are kind.
“The boys in Agnostic Front? Some of the nicest guys I have ever dealt with, no lie,” and that was when she noticed that I was drinking Woodchuck. “Ever tried Strongbow?” she asked, and then proceeded to sell me the perks of the English import. She gave me a sample in a plastic cup, and when I agreed that it was really so much better than Woodchuck, she set a tall glass of it in front of me and said, “That one’s on me.”
I really love the fucking Grog Shop.
But what I didn’t really fucking love was the texts I was getting from Henry, keeping me abreast of the Pens game, which they lost. It nearly ruined my night. I’m sure Alisha thought that I was reading a text alerting me to a horrible accident at the homefront, but when I tilted my phone her way and she saw that I was just reading the score to the hockey game, she was like, “Oh” and then quickly added, “That sucks.”
By the time Craig walked past us, I was feeling REALLY FUCKING good. So good, in fact, that I was able to enjoy the entire set without bawling, sobbing, shaking, or obsessing over giving him that fucking painting. I just remember smiling so big and feeling happy and lucky to be sitting there with Craig singing a few feet away.
He started with “Letter From Janelle” and I was all, “Oh yay!” and next thing I knew my fingers were involuntarily curving into heart-formation, and Alisha was happy too because she likes that song, and it was just good, so so so good. He did a Bright Eyes cover, two Cinematic Sunrise tracks (I thought of my friend Jessa when he busted out “You Told Me You Loved Me”), and the most beautifully heart-stopping acoustic version of “Baby, You Wouldn’t Last a Minute on the Creek” that I ever could have imagined possible and I know I was beaming like a five-year-old getting a unicorn and a Mogwai all on the same Christmas. And maybe also like Henry when he was getting a hand job, the Vick’s VapoRub edition, from a Thai hooker. OK, maybe my grin was not so sleazy. I hope, anyway.
But then today I watched a video of it that s0meone posted and since I no longer have hard cider acting as a dam for my emotions, I got all emotional band-y and cried a little. But seriously, this song has some prime fucking real estate staked out on my heart.
Craig was happy and full of humor and stories. I didn’t expect to go to this show and laugh! He said “J/K” for some reason, and some girl up front mocked him. He was all, “Did you just mock me? I’ll punch you in your face, little girl” and I started to think, “Wow, he could punch me in my face anyday!” but then I remembered that I don’t like anyone that much to receive a fisted gift in the grill. Not even my own son, but he still does it anyway.
So, Craig admitted that the reason he was so happy was because he’s in love now, and like any good fangirl, I already knew about his girlfriend (who is so freaking cute, by the way). He wrote a song for her, tentatively titled “Song For Joanna” and before he played it, he had everyone sit on the floor, and then he, Brian (Isles & Glaciers, ex-Receiving End of Sirens) and Nick (of Underminded, Cinematic Sunrise, Isles & Glaciers) all sat at the edge of the stage, sans microphones, and Craig proceeded to serenade the room campfire-style. It was intimate and absolutely beautiful. They played the rest of the set like that, including “Vacation to Hell” which he wrote when he was 16, and “Intensity in Ten Cities” (one of my favorite songs off Bone Palace Ballet and Chiodos never plays it live). It was like nothing I had ever experienced at a show before. That alone was worth it.
He is so beautiful, in a myriad of ways, and I could barely stand it.
After the show, we ran back to the car so I could grab the painting, and then spent the next 30 minutes or so standing in a small group of anxious fans eager to say hello to him. I realized there was a half-assed line forming, and Alisha and I were sort of off to the side of it. A young couple heard me mention it and turned around to say it probably wasn’t a big deal.
“I’m not trying to cut in line and take away anyone’s time with Craig. In fact, I don’t even want to talk to him. I just need to hand him this painting and then run away.” So then we started chatting a bit (I almost said “for a spell” because apparently I’m an eighty-year-old now) and the boy member of the couple reached out to touch my arm (this is according to Alisha, as I was kind of hammered) as a means to console me since I was probably blubbering on about how I’m a social reject. Alisha said his girlfriend seemed angered by the physical contact and that was the end of that convo.
While standing around, I was thinking about how awesome it was that there was such a large turn-out of older people; but then I saw one of those older people (a ginger around my age, I guess) who was so drunk she was laying on the floor and being a general nuisance, and suddenly I remembered why I enjoy shows that have a primarily under-age attendance. Alisha thought she was hot.
Eventually, my bartender friend emerged from the back and gave us the bad news that Craig wasn’t feeling well and therefore was not going to be able to come and talk to us. I was disappointed for about .000005 seconds until I realized, “Hey, now I don’t have to unravel into an overzealous and embarrassing display of verbal impotence.” Spotting Nick Martin coiling up some wire on the stage, I decided to just pawn it off on him, but felt like an absolute heel in doing so. It’s like, “Hey faceless boy who plays guitar with Craig, this token of appreciation is NOT for, can you please give it to Craig? Wait, what did you say your name was?” But really, I love Nick. I think he’s amazingly talented and I tried to convey that as eloquently as possible as a preface to my request, but unfotunately it sounded more like, “Oh wow, you were awesome. You guys were awesome. What an awesome show. Would be awesome to see you in Pittsburgh. How ’bout the awesome weather. I’m upchucking the awesome. Oh, and can you give this to Craig thanks see ya.” I felt awful about it, but he was so sweet and said, “I promise you this will be in his hands tonight.”
I know, wow, fan art. How fucking precious. But, you know. Craig’s lyrics are what inspired a lot of my paintings. So what better way to say thanks than to give him one that’s made especially for him. I trust that Nick gave it to him, and I feel content and even a little relieved, to know that maybe, in some small way, I might have been able to touch Craig’s life like he has touched mine. And I don’t care how cornville that sounds, motherfucker.
On the way home, I stared out the window at the dark, malignant expanse of forest next to the highway and asked, “Do you ever wonder if someone, right now as we drive by, is getting murdered in those woods?”
In a horrified tone, Alisha answered, “Um no. But now I am, thanks.”
Mr. Small’s Theater is an old church that’s been converted into a music venue, which is awesome since seeing Chiodos is basically, for me, like getting all hand-waving and tongue-speaking at a church service. They like, touch the genitals of my soul, or some shit.
All day last Wednesday, I was hiccuping butterflies and doing the anxiety pee dance. When Henry came home from work, I yanked his arm repeatedly and yelled, “AREN’T YOU SO EXCITED??” He answered me with a very adult-like frown and said, “Of course not.”
We arrived to the usual double-takes from scene kids loitering outside. Two old folks at the Chiodos show tend to be an anomoly, but I’ve learned to ignore it. It’s easier for me, because I only look marginally older than the rest of the crowd, but it’s also a little embarrassing because Henry looks like my chaperone. I should probably just start going by myself, but I do so love to torture Henry with high-decibel screamo.
Much to my dismay, A Voice Like Rhetoric was nearly finished by the time we arrived, thanks to Henry pissing around at the goddamn ATM down the street. They were the only other band on the bill that I had any desire to see, hometown pride and all. Wait, I don’t have hometown pride (suck one, Steelers). I guess I just wanted to see them because they’re actually good. Who knew.
Henry was happy to see that there was an area cordoned off for the over 21 set. Usually at the shows we go to, it’s all ages and Henry has nowhere to hide. Once the circle pit was officially shaped during Hit the Light’s set, Henry embraced his can of Pabst and took solace in the leftover church pew that protected him from the flailing fists and jutting legs of the aggro teens in front of us.
Someone’s sock landed softly on my right shoulder during Chiodos’ set. I’m pretty sure it was that blue-shirted dude’s. I suppose I could have stuffed it in my pocket to return to him post-show, instead of yelping and swatting it off into the garbage can that I was standing near. 0wellzorz, little scene dude. Send ye mommy to the sock store.
And then finally, after two hours of boring scene kid study (the lack of scene extremity in this particular crowd left me sad and unsatisfied – where was all the assymetrical hair, raccoon eyes, and Skelanimal hoodies?), Craig fucking Owens took the stage, arms spread like a crucified Jesus, bathed in blue light and I forgot all about lame Henry standing behind me and chugging his old man beer. I kept one eye open to make sure I didn’t get pummeled by any more sweaty socks or size 11 shoes. Violence is the only downside of these kinds of shows. You just don’t have to anticipate getting cold-cocked at a Xiu Xiu show.
During one song, Craig decided to make the crowd split down the middle and separate, leaving a wide open area in the middle for everyone to come crashing together on his signal. I was glad to be on the other side of the barrier, and felt sorry for the girl directly in front of me on the other side, who was scrambling to get out of the way. But really, who wouldn’t want to be crushed in a wall of teenaged aggression?? If I was a teenage boy, I’d have been out there. But instead I’m a sissy grown-up trying not to come home to my two-year-old with a bloody lip and ripped off ear.
You don’t even have to see their faces to deduce that the average age in attendance was sixteen. And you know what? I DON’T CARE. Chiodos makes me feel something much deeper than the shit played on the radio, the shit that grown-ups are “supposed” to listen to. And it just so happens that teenagers feel the same way. And I’m OK with that. It gives me something to talk about with Henry’s kid. I like music that makes me involuntarily weep, which I did that night during several songs. I kind of feel sad for the people who don’t get anything out of the music they listen to.
For an encore, they played “All Nereids Beware” which they said they haven’t played live in nearly three years. My legs quaked a little because this was the first song of their’s that I really latched on to three years ago. I remember hearing it and just knowing that this band was going to be really great. I just didn’t know then that they would end up meaning so much to me.
After the show, I hung around and waited for it to clear out a little before attempting to locate Henry, who had run off to the bathroom during the last song. The nerve. I was standing near an older woman who I had noticed several times throughout the night. She was in her forties probably, had the signature Mom coif, and was wearing slacks with sensible shoes. While I was standing there watching all the boys run around trying to retrieve their lost articles of clothing, the woman’s son had joined her and was talking excitedly about the show. “And did you see when Craig pointed out into the crowd, mom? He was pointing at ME because he saw me pointing at HIM.” He went on to give a breathy account of the night’s songs, and his mother stopped him at one point to say, “Yes, I really liked that one.” It made me smile all over, witnessing that. I also felt kind of perverted, because it was such a cool and intimate parent-kid moment, but it made me wish that I won’t lose this love for the scene, so that when Chooch is older, we can have the same sort of conversations.
Eventually, I waded through the pile of ripped out piercings, sweatbands and tears to rejoin Henry. As I was heading toward the door I realized Henry, of his own accord, was heading the opposite way. Toward the merch table. THE MERCH TABLE. The table from which he always tries to distract me, and now here he was, approaching it alone. Because of Henry’s bravery, I now own a Chiodos hoodie, FINALLY. I tried to get one last winter and it turned into the messiest mail order debacle I’ve ever been a part of. This one is ten times better than the one I was trying to get in the first place, thanks to Henry pissing around at the goddamn ATM down the street.
This is probably the best – not to mention the worst – idea that I have ever had.
Mel couldn’t take the pain of his broken heart any longer so he gouged a hole into his chest with a melon baller and pulled that bleeding sucker right the hell out. Now he’ll never have to feel that breaking torment next time a favorite ice cream flavor is retired. On the flipside though, he’ll never again feel the swell of hope and love when his girlfriend comes over. But how often does that really happen? She’s a cheating slutbroad.
Sometimes I wish I didn’t have a heart, too. But I would rather suffer through the lows so that I may have the highs, rather than not feel anything at all. I love you, Craigery.
"I’ve never seen the line this long before," Henry exclaimed when he called me from Club Zoo. "And we’ve been to a lot of shows down here!" He and his kids had left earlier than Christina and me, so we decided we better hurry up and get down there.
When we arrived, I saw that the line of dual-toned shellacked hair, skinny jeans, and black eyeliner was sort of long, but not nearly as bad as Henry was wanking off about. As we walked toward the end of the line, I called to alert him of our arrival. He told me that he and his kids were on the ramp near the doors, and that we should just cut. I hung up on him and while I was bitching to Christina about how I hate when people cut in line and surely was not about to do that myself, a burly man in a security t-shirt called out to us before we even made it to the end of the line.
"You guys got tickets? Then come with me." He escorted us all the way to the front of the line, past all of the bristling scene kids and Henry.
Inside the club, I called Henry and told him since they had tickets, they evidently didn’t need to stand in line, but he said it didn’t matter. Not wanting me to feel special about the random escort, he quickly added, "He probably just chose to let in you two because you’re OLD."
Finally, we were all inside together. Henry’s oldest son, Robbie, introduced me to his girlfriend, Bree, but she didn’t seem to like me.
And Blake swore that the girl he was with wasn’t his girlfriend, but she should be because they were really cute together.
During the opening band, The Color Fred (featuring Fred from Taking Back Sunday), Christina took pictures of the scene kids around us, Blake and his non-girlfriend ran off to the arcade (Club Zoo is an 18 and under club on nights that bands aren’t playing), and Robbie and Bree never said where they were going. Meanwhile, Henry leaned against a railing with his arms crossed and bandanna too tight, looking surly and awkward. This was the first time in two years that he wore a bandanna and I was like DO NOT LIKE, DO NOT LIKE all night long. Why did he have to tie it so tight? Jesus, it made his face look near-explosion.
It had been about four years since I was at this particular club, so I wasn’t used to the balcony area being VIP only. "But why? That’s so lame," I whined to Henry. He shrugged and said that there was a bouncer sitting at the top of the steps behind a rope.
"Do you really want up there?" Christina asked. Of course I did, it was off limits. Some older man in a security shirt and a hat walked by, and Henry pointed to him.
"That’s the guy you want to talk to," he said. I don’t know how Henry finds this shit out. It must be old man code or something.
So Christina goes up to the guy and the first thing she does is accidentally knocks his hat off. He doesn’t help us get in, but then she sees the original security guy from outside, whispers something in his ear and he motions for me to follow them up the steps. He whispers to the VIP guy, who obediently marks our hands and unclasps the rope to grant us entrance. Henry, Blake and his friend Stephenie were standing on the steps, looking betrayed and left behind, like we just snatched the last safety raft on the Titanic. But our security friend had retreated by then and the VIP guy wouldn’t let them through. Later, we lied and said they had to be 21 anyway, even though we never bothered to ask.
Henry waved it off and told us to stay up there, it was OK. What he meant was, "You’re so selfish, you little stuck up bitch, fuck you for making my favorite kid feel like shit!" So, I felt a little guilty. Not guilty enough to surrender my newly acquired VIP status though.
The VIP area was pretty boring. A couple of black couches scattered around and some slutty girls leaning against the balcony and pretending to give a shit about the band playing. We sat on a couch and acted like idiots for awhile, before deciding to go back down where the action was. "We’ll come back up for Chiodos," I said, and Christina agreed.
I failed to mention to Christina that I located Henry through the power of texting, so she somehow got left behind as I did my signature "I’m always in a hurry" march over to the doors. Apparently, she ran into Robbie (after MacGyvering a way for Blake’s friend that’s a girl to be able to see better) and asked him if he knew where his dad was. "Over there, looking like a creep," he answered. Possibly my favorite moment of the night, and I didn’t even witness it first hand.
Another favorite moment that I wasn’t present for was when Christina asked her security friend if she could leave to get her cigarettes from the car, so he marked her hand with a black "21" and sent her to the bar next door, where she felt obligated to order a $5 vodka and cranberry and drink it near a group of ten people who were all friends with each other and looking at her like she was an outcast. Only then was she able to retrieve her Camels from the car. I wondered why it was taking her so long. I mean, I know she’s Mexican, but I didn’t think she’d walk THAT slow.
We hung out with Henry for awhile at the back of the club, just in time for Drop Dead Gorgeous to come on. Christina made friends with two mothers, completely out of the blue, because she practically wears a neon sign that flashes "TALK TO ME, I’M APPROACHABLE." It’s obnoxious, really. Every time I turned around that night, she had someone sidled up next to her, telling her about their recent $8,000 boob job, or the fact that they were presently spying on their daughter and have an affinity for harder music, like Pantera. I guess no one talks to me because I either look: angry, boring, or superior. I’m betting on superior.
Henry was completely in pain during Drop Dead Gorgeous’s set. "All they’re doing is screaming! They suck! It’s like they’ve been playing the same song eight times in a row!" I liked them, but I have a lot of aggression brewing inside of me, so screaming in music is something that appeals to me.
I made the eerie observation that there were at least twelve other boys there that looked like the spitting image of Robbie. I swore I kept seeing him with a different girl every time, and then I would realize that it was some other skinny kid with a pierced labret. There was one instance where I walked past one of his doppelgangers and slapped his shoulder, only to realize it wasn’t him. I shared this with Robbie, the authentic Robbie, at the end of the night, but in true teenaged ambivalence, he half-laughed and then shrugged, and I felt lame.
We ditched Henry for the VIP area during MxPx’s set. Leaning against the balcony and looking down at the kids below, I realized that I didn’t feel very VIP. Where was the champagne? Why were there no hotties in my lap? I wanted to be down where all the action was, otherwise I’d feel like a fairweathered fan. And that’s something that I definately wasn’t. Fairweathered friend, maybe. I looked at Christina and said, "Let’s blow this joint." We flipped off the VIP area and went back down into the bowels of sceneville, where we found Henry outside socializing with security and parents. He tried to make me jealous by bragging that he saw Craigery of Chiodos, and I was kind of glad that I wasn’t there for that, because what would I have done? Cried and then felt shitty for the rest of the night, that’s what.
I decided that night that I want to do a photographical study on scene kids. That’ll be my next Craigslist ad.
While we were waiting for Chiodos to come on, Mike from MxPx strolled past. A small handful of kids clung to him, begging for pictures to use as default MySpace pics, and I urged Christina to do the same. "You really like him," I reminded her. "Go ‘head!" I implored, shoving her forward. There she was, standing next to him, and both of their faces seemed to display the same pained, frustrated expressions. I had no idea what they were saying to each other, but I took the picture anyway.
"That was the most embarrassing moment of my life!" she yelled, stalking back to me and Henry. "I had no idea what to say to him since I WAS PUSHED INTO THE SITUATION, but I wanted to find something that we had in common. So, I was trying to tell him about how I saw them when they were on tour with my friends Dan and Chrissy but I couldn’t remember the name of their band back then, and he had no idea who I was talking about, so he just said, ‘It’s nice to see you again, though.’"
"Element 101," I said. "That was the name of their band." Christina slapped herself in the head and I was doubled over in laughter. "And they’re not even my friends!" I reminded her, furthering her pain. Look at her face in that picture! Whenever I’m feeling down, I just look at that, and feel so much happier.
Just then, Fate dropped the perfect example of a scene girl down right in front of us. Christina was acting all shady, attempting to take her picture in secret, but I stepped forward and said, "Why don’t you just ask her, so you don’t look like a pedophiliac stalker?" Christina agreed that this was a great idea, and made up some story about how we thought her hair was really terrific and would like a picture for our cool hair scrapbook (the scrapbook part is what I would have said, because I’m better at lying than Christina is). The coon girl was all, "OMG I did it myself too so that really means a lot!" and vogued in the standard Internet profile pose before quickly retreating with her friends. It warmed my belly to know that we made her feel good about herself, because I know how nervous I was all the time back then about fitting in. No, seriously. I was all, "Are the bands of my braces the right color this time? Is it lame to drink 2 percent? Should I not be shaving lines into my eye brows? OMG suicide."
A tall man with long wavy hair walked past and Henry proudly boasted, "That’s my new friend. He likes Pantera." I guess Henry’s bandanna deluded that guy into thinking that Henry was worthy of chatting with outside the club. I told Henry that Christina had also befriended him earlier in the VIP area (seriously, I turned my back for five seconds to see if I could spy Henry down below, and next thing I know, my spot is lost to some tough-skinned man who surely owns a Harley, and Christina’s talking to him like he’s her favorite uncle). Christina tried to act like he was better friends with her, but seemed crushed that he only told Henry he has a prosthetic leg.
Seconds before Chiodos came on, Christina arranged for a photo-op with her favorite bouncer, who for some reason really took a liking to her. The spell she casts on people can be very annoying at times.
Chiodos. Oh, Chiodos. I don’t even know what to say, really. Of course Henry refused to follow us into the undulating wall of kids, choosing to keep his feet firmly planted at the back of the club by the red-haired merch girl who had shitty signs perched on her booth, making Christina decide to leave a comment on Chiodos’ MySpace, alerting them to the rudeness of their merch girl and that whoever’s dick she’s sucking, it’s not worth it.
I’m too old to be getting all up into the pit, too vain to be suffering a broken nose, and too aggressive to be warding off flailing limbs without landing myself in jail, so we opted for a spot with a great view and sufficient personal space. It was perfect.
Every time Craigery threw back his head and arched his back into a gutteral roar, I laughed, knowing that somewhere behind me, in the darkness of the club, Henry was grimacing and rubbing his temples. He’s admitted numerous times that he enjoys their music, but hates the screaming. I love it. I also harbor more aggression than Henry does though, as evidenced today by the bloody knuckle I left the house with.
The sound was so fucked up at the beginning that I couldn’t even tell what the first song was. They quickly got it straightened out and it was pure insanity from there on out. I had goosebumps up to my scalp and was on the verge of tears the entire time. Eventually, they played "Baby, You Wouldn’t Last a Minute on the Creek" and I lost it. Completely fucking lost it and I let the tears fall. It felt good. Clearly I wasn’t hugged enough as a child.
Toward the end of the show, a young kid who looked like Gerard Way pre-MTV exploitation decided to stand behind us and scream things like, "CHIODOS SUCKS! NEVERMIND, CHIODOS RULES!" and then he’d go on to chat with his friends like he was in a fucking coffee house about how he couldn’t believe he had to go to school the next day and all he wanted to do was go home and take a three hour bath. THEN GO DO THAT, ASSHOLE. Eventually, Christina turned around and said, "I paid $25 to hear this band play, so if you want to talk how about standing back there?" It was an awkward moment, the two of them staring at each other, before Christina finally turned back around. He stood there dumbly, with his mouth half-opened, like he really wanted to say something shitty but couldn’t think of anything. I figured at the very least, I’d wind up with some gum or a cigarette butt in my hair, but there was no backlash.
By the end of the set, I pretty much wanted to kill myself. I can’t explain what it is about those guys, but they make me feel so emotionally fragile. They make me want to simultaneously break a lamp over my head and hug a kitten. They make me wish I could run away instead of being a lowly data processor. They make me want to paint pictures with my own blood and then hold hands with someone I love.
Today I realized, "I would give up my tickets to the Cure to see Chiodos again" and it was a monumental moment in my life.
[I know not everyone is a fan of screaming, and this was the only song of theirs sans screaming that I could find a video for. See how I cater?]