When I was 19, I attended one of many Alternative Press tours with one of my best friends in the whole world. It was in November, in Boston, and there were five bands playing. We had only heard of two, the co-headliners, which wasn’t (and isn’t) uncommon. I often go into shows knowing nothing about the opening acts and leaving with various thoughts (usually good or bad, though sometimes neutral). That night, the first (second? I can’t even recall) opener was a UK band called You Me At Six. It played for about half an hour and at the end of the set, the band’s lead singer, Josh Franceschi, said he’d be at the merch table after the show if anyone in the audience wanted to say hi.
During that half hour, my friend and I fell head over heels in love with You Me At Six, and those feelings have only intensified since. We actually made a conscious decision to miss our train back to school that night, so we could stay at the venue and chat with Josh. As a result, we slept in the access ramp behind the Celtics ticket booth in North Station — which was closed — in the freezing cold, on cement, without jackets. (Security kept an eye on us and let us into the station as soon as it was open, which was lovely. It was… an experience.) We were those girls who slept in a train station to talk to a band boy. From a band we didn’t even know. Yeah.
That was the first time we saw You Me At Six together. The second time was at Warped Tour in 2010, when everything that could have gone wrong, did. There were injuries and waterlogged cell phones and broken eyeglasses and to top it all off, it rained. But we got to meet all of the boys of the band that time, and it was exactly the kind of Warped Tour experience one would expect. The YMAS set was one of the best of the day, despite the fact that it was starting to rain, and it’s one I’ll always remember just because of how excited the band was to have drawn the crowd it did. YMAS has come a long, long way since 2010.
On Thursday, Oct. 17, I saw You Me At Six for the third time. But one major thing was different about this show, compared to the two others: the band headlined the show. YMAS is on its first US headlining tour right now, and the Boston show was at one of my favorite venues, Paradise Rock Club. I went with four of my favorite babes (including the lovely girl who slept in North Station with me and braved the rain at Warped), and we only caught a couple of the opening acts — Conditions and Tonight Alive — but we liked them enough to buy their albums after the show. I also got to keep up my super lucky streak of talking to Josh — and his bandmates — every time I’ve seen them live.
The cool thing about Paradise is that the venue has a ground floor and a balcony, and the dressing rooms are right off the balcony. So it’s not uncommon for band members to wander out and catch the sets of the openers, which means that if you’re on the balcony and paying attention, it’s likely you’ll get to chat with them.
My best friend got a picture with Max Helyer, who was wearing a ridiculously soft jumper that another friend of mine coveted. She even asked him where he got it and we all got to have a short, sweet conversation with him. We also got to see Josh, and my best friend thanked him for making music only to get a very unexpected hug from him in response. He also gave me a hug (at my request, admittedly), and listened as I rambled about being way too excited to see YMAS headline, since it was my third time seeing them live. I adore every member of this band, but Max and Josh are the two that first caught my attention all the way back in 2009 because they were just so into performing. I’m really happy to report that hasn’t changed at all.
You Me At Six’s performance style has changed drastically since I first saw them, but all of the boys have only gotten better and better. There’s more confidence in their stage presence (which is stupidly sexy), and their skills as a band have gotten even more amazing. I was awed by the band’s performance on Thursday night, the energy so in sync with the crowd’s that it was kind of stupefying. Josh was as funny and endearing as ever, and the set list was a perfect combination of old and new songs. The band just finished recording its fourth album, which is really exciting, and the new song the boys played from it has me stoked to hear the rest. My only complaint about the show, to be honest, was that YMAS didn’t play “Save it for the Bedroom” or “Finders Keepers”, two of the best songs they’ve ever recorded (and two of the oldest and most well-known).
The band did play many of my other favorites, though, including some slower ballads and some of the harder songs that feature guest vocalists on the album versions. I can honestly say I didn’t expect Josh to perform the screaming portion of “Bite My Tongue” — but he did, and he did it well, and the image of him collapsing on the stage after is one that’s been burned into my mind since Thursday. I had an incredible time seeing this band play, and it was even more magical to see them take over the stage for longer than a measly half hour.
Josh talked about that, and about how the band’s mission statement has changed since the boys first became a musical unit (from wanting to play music and “get pissed for free” to wanting to give fans an outlet and take us away from all of the real life bullshit every time we go to a show and just be entertained by a great band), and it was all just… weirdly emotional, and kind of overwhelming. Although YMAS hasn’t been in my life nearly as long as some other bands that I often cite as reasons to get out of bed in the morning, the band is one of my all-time favorites. It’s crawled its way into my heart and cemented itself there, and I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way. I am so lucky to have seen this band when it first started to get some bearings in the US and I’m even luckier to have met Josh and the boys at every single show. I cannot wait to see them again — at another headlining gig, please! — and I cannot wait to hear the new album.
Say what you want about pop punk, but there’s a magic to it that cannot be denied. You Me At Six is the kind of band that I can listen to for days on end without ever getting bored, and I’ve felt that way for years now. It’s weird to think that I’ve been listening to them for such a long period of time, but it’s also really, really cool. YMAS has strengthened many of my friendships and also given me new ones. The band has gotten me through things that I never could have predicted would throw me so hard, and they’ve gotten people close to me through really tough shit, too. I’m so grateful to them. And I’m really, really glad they get better every time I see them live, because it means I’m even more blown away after each show. I’m forever falling in love with You Me At Six, despite Josh Franceschi warning me to never fall in love the first time we met. (I later found out he’s three months younger than me… so that’s a little funny, I think.)