So, about 5 Seconds of Summer

5SOSAPI can’t believe I’m writing this post. Actually, that’s not true. I can. I can definitely believe that I’m taking time out of my week to sit down and write a blog post about four boys from Australia who’ve opened for One Direction and are sending the punk community into a tailspin.

You’ve probably heard of 5 Seconds of Summer, even if you haven’t heard their music. My roommate has said on multiple occasions that if you choose to classify them as pop-punk — which Alternative Press has clearly chosen to do, planting the band on the cover of their next issue with the headline ‘Why pop-punk needs 5 Seconds of Summer’ — then it’s safe to say that 5SOS falls more on the ‘pop’ side of that genre classification. And that’s okay. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with pop music. So what the hell is everyone so pissed off about?

Property of Zack post summed it up nicely:

No one’s calling 5 Seconds Of Summer “punk” one way or the other, per say [sic], but there’s been a whole lot of talk about how this single band all the way from Australia is out to destroy pop-punk and all of everything you love. Shit, do you think they’re gonna do it?

No. No, I really don’t think they’re going to destroy everything I love. There are probably people who don’t think I deserve to have an opinion on this subject, because I like One Direction and I love pop music. But I also love pop-punk music. Pop-punk saved my life. It introduced the concept of Not Being Okay being okay and gave me lyrics to sing about things I didn’t know how to say. I grew up on pop-punk and listen to it more than probably any other genre of music, despite having a massive iTunes library that spans decades.

Do I consider 5 Seconds of Summer to be a pop-punk band? Sure. Why not? Pop-punk has grown and changed and progressed into a staple of music over the last couple decades. Bands like blink-182, Green Day and New Found Glory inspired bands like Panic! at the Disco, All Time Low and Fall Out Boy, who inspired bands like 5 Seconds of Summer. That’s how this shit works. And it might hurt your poor little anti-inclusion brain (which isn’t a very punk way of thinking), but it’s the truth. If you think that bands like 5SOS somehow “prove” that pop has “watered down” punk music to the point that it’s “unrecognizable”, I think you need to take a step back.

It should be noted that I’m saying all of this as a person who’s mostly ambivalent to this band. I like the single “She Looks So Perfect” because it’s catchy and the video actually represents several body types and ages, all getting naked to this song about a girl looking hot in her boyfriend’s underwear. That’s pretty damn cool. But I haven’t bought or even listened to their album (though I will, soon, especially with all of this crap surrounding them) and didn’t really know anything about 5SOS until a few months ago. In fact, I didn’t even know they were Australian until I read that Property of Zack post half an hour ago. So this isn’t about me defending the band itself.

I just feel as though, given some of the awful bullshit in the punk community at large, there are far bigger issues that we could be talking about than whether or not it’s appropriate or correct to label 5 Seconds of Summer as pop-punk. Given that the punk movement is supposed to be about including everyone, giving the riff-raff a home base and a safe space, it’s weird that anytime a band doesn’t quite fit the traditional punk mold (and that’s a contradiction if I’ve ever heard one), they’re ripped apart as shitty and unworthy.

Hell, if you want a legitimate reason to complain about 5SOS, talk about the cultural appropriation they recently demonstrated in attempts to promote their debut album. It would be a far more interesting conversation.

For now, I’ll just leave you with this tweet from Patrick Stump, because it sums up my feelings perfectly:

Advertisements
So, about 5 Seconds of Summer

Concert Recap: MONUMENTOUR

In 2005, I heard Paramore and Fall Out Boy for the very first time and fell head over heels in love with both. In 2010, I got a lyric from Paramore’s “For a Pessimist, I’m Pretty Optimistic” tattooed on my left forearm. In 2013, I got a lyric from Fall Out Boy’s “Thriller” tattooed on my ribcage, right beneath my heart. And on June 30, 2014, I saw Paramore and Fall Out Boy co-headline MONUMENTOUR, a tour that I’ve been dreaming about for the last decade. I can say, with confidence, that it was the absolute best night of my entire life.

It makes me feel really old to think about the fact that I’ve been listening to Paramore and Fall Out Boy for almost 10 years. They’ve seen me through a lot of life, helping me adjust to and get over and understand and cope with and manage countless problems and hard times. They’ve helped me celebrate a hell of a lot of good times, too. Paramore and Fall Out Boy are both outrageously important to me for different reasons, and in different ways, but one thing’s for sure: for years, anytime anyone has asked me who would headline my dream tour, these two bands came up at least 7 out of 10 times in my answer. At last night’s show, Hayley Williams talked a bit about the fact that MONUMENTOUR should have happened a long, long time ago. The fanbases for these two bands overlap like mad, and both bands give such dynamic live performances that it should have been a no brainer to pair them together for a tour.

Paramore performs "Last Hope".
Paramore performs “Last Hope”.

That being said, I think the timing of this tour is really, really important. Paramore has had a banner year following the release of their fourth studio album, a self-titled journey through what is arguably the band’s most difficult time: the departure of two of its founding members, Josh and Zac Farro. On Monday, the band played a set that focused less on the singles (though they still played “Misery Business” — which featured a surprise proposal from a fan to his girlfriend during the sing-along!!! — and “Pressure”  and “Ignorance” and a few other fan faves) and more on where they are and how they’ve grown as a band. There were a ton of songs from the self-titled record, including ones I wasn’t sure I’d ever hear live, but those were well balanced by a mixture of songs from the first three records as well.

DSCN0183What most blew my mind was the performance of “Let the Flames Begin / Part II”, which included a transition that brought tears to my eyes. It was also amazing to hear “Last Hope” live, and closing the set with “Ain’t It Fun” was perfect. This was my fifth time seeing Paramore live, my second at this venue, and it was a totally different experience from any other Paramore show. I absolutely loved it. There were confetti canons and giant balloons and the band, as always, looked incredibly stoked just to be there. Hayley Williams is such a spitfire on stage, but she also took the time to talk to the audience at several points, welcoming new concert-goers to the Paramore family and getting emotional when she talked about the decade that Paramore has been a band and all of the fans that have been around since the beginning.

Following Paramore’s set, a good number of people departed the pit. On one hand, I couldn’t blame them; it was 90+ degrees that day, and the venue was incredibly chaotic. We arrived at around 1 p.m. and were told we’d need to return at 5 p.m. to park, though we’d received emails detailing a 3 p.m. Paramore fan tailgate. Said tailgate was canceled for the New Hampshire show, but the venue staff still allowed people to start parking at 3:30 p.m. And despite being told at 1 p.m. and then 3:15 p.m. that we couldn’t wait outside the gate for parking to open, when we arrived at 3:30 p.m., several cars were waiting. At any rate, we stood in line for 2.5 hours waiting for doors to open and then stood in the crowd for another hour as we waited for New Politics to take the stage and open the show. One fan passed out within minutes of the crowd gathering in front of the barricade, so venue staff started handing out water — at $4 a bottle. Given that at an indoor show the night before, security gave out water to those in the pit for free, and without being asked, it was a little disturbing to see a venue so blatantly trying to make money off of dehydrated, overheated young people who just wanted to see a good show. Eventually, after lots of begging and a few more blacked out fans, security started hosed down the crowd with cold water in between headliners. My last experience seeing Paramore at this venue in 2010 was wonderful, but this one has turned me off for life. I won’t be returning.

20140630_221108 That being said, those who did exit the pit (or possibly exited the venue altogether?) missed one hell of a set from Fall Out Boy. Flame canons and fireworks aside, the band played a fast-paced, exciting set that featured tons of hits, old and new, as well as songs from Save Rock and Roll that they didn’t play on the comeback tour last year. After a four-year hiatus, Fall Out Boy dropped a series of bombshells last February including a new single, announcement of a new album, and tour dates for the spring and summer. They’ve been touring the world ever since, giving hope back to fans that thought they’d never hear new music from Fall Out Boy again. I first saw Fall Out Boy in 2009, when the band opened for blink-182 on its reunion tour. It was right before the announcement of the band’s “indefinite hiatus” and it was an outrageous experience. Prior to last night, that was hands-down the best show I’d ever seen. Now, the two are at the very least tied, though I think MONUMENTOUR edges out blink-182 by just a hair. A very thin hair. Maybe. Maybe.

DSCN0189Much like Paramore, Fall Out Boy played a set that was very different from any I’d seen from them before. (This was my third time seeing them live.) It was obvious that both bands were having as much fun as possible, trying new songs and exploring new performance ideas and giving it all for the fans. Fall Out Boy not only covered Queen (which was really fucking wonderful but also kind of hilarious), but Pete Wentz incited a chant in support of the USMNT that was recorded and put online (you can see myself and my friends in it, here) and Patrick Stump and Andy Hurley had a drum battle. It was disappointing that they didn’t open the set with “Thriller”, I won’t lie, and I missed “Disloyal Order of Water Buffaloes”, but even though I yearned for some songs to make an appearance, it was still an absolutely amazing set. We ended up leaving the pit toward the end because AR felt so sick, but stayed close enough to see the last few songs on the screens.

I have lyrics from both of these bands inked in my skin because they’ve both been so important to my growth as a person. Seeing them play a show together was literally a dream come true, and despite the disgusting heat and the awful treatment from the venue staff, I’m sticking by my claim that it was the best night of my life. Seeing these bands make such incredible comebacks within months of each other was one of the best parts of 2013. Seeing them on tour together in 2014 will stand out in my memory for the rest of my life.

I only knew three songs from the opener, New Politics, who played a killer set as well. (Though as AR said, the amount of breakdancing made it feel simultaneously like a bizarre performance of So You Think You Can Dance live.) If I could do it all over again, the only thing I would change would be the venue. Everything else was absolutely fucking flawless.

If you’ve got tickets to MONUMENTOUR, I hope you have a stellar time. I can’t imagine any tour that could ever top this one (though I might have to eat those words at some point).

Concert Recap: MONUMENTOUR

Concert Recap: Say Anything, The Front Bottoms, The So So Glos, You Blew It!

In 2010, I overheard the Say Anything set at Bamboozle New Jersey as I met the members of Motion City Soundtrack at their merch booth. Hearing their music live was awesome, but I vowed that I’d go to a proper show and be in the pit and really experience one of their live shows some day. Sunday, June 29 was that day. Say Anything headlined the House of Blues in Boston, one of my favorite venues (even though everyone else on the scene hates that it’s “so corporate”), and the best goddamn band in the world opened: The Front Bottoms.

Actually, three bands opened. The first was You Blew It!, whom we saw open for The Front Bottoms in February. They play a really energetic show, and the boys look so happy to be on stage that it’s always fun to see them play. Much like in February, they came on stage during The Front Bottoms’ set and during Say Anything’s to play songs with them, which added a bit of spontaneity that was fantastic. Apparently, HoB is the largest venue they’ve played, but if they were nervous, it didn’t really show. I loved watching them play.

The second opener was the So So Glos, whose music I would probably like recorded but couldn’t really get into live. I don’t think it had anything to do with the music itself — it was straightforward punk with an anti-hate message, which I usually dig — but rather the performance. I craved more stage presence and less baseball jokes, because I’m not a New England native and honestly don’t care about the Red Sox. (I’ll probably get lynched for that later, but sports have never ever been my thing.) I’ll have to check out their recorded stuff and see how I feel.

When The Front Bottoms took the stage, the crowd went completely apeshit. That was expected — AR and I have seen this band four times in the last year and we’ve left every single pit feeling like we’ve been run over by a horde of elephants. For me, seeing The Front Bottoms was the highlight of the whole night. I’ve wanted to see Say Anything for years and I absolutely loved their set, don’t get me wrong. But The Front Bottoms are my favorite band and seeing them live is almost a spiritual thing, every time. It’s cathartic and intense and makes me feel like I’m ten feet tall, no matter what else might be going on in my life when I enter or leave the venue.

The Front Bottoms' setlist, signed by Mat and Ciaran.
The Front Bottoms’ setlist, signed by Mat and Ciaran. Photo by AR.

TFB opened with “Skeleton”, as usual, so screaming the opening lyric with other fans in the crowd felt like entering a whole new headspace. Since it was only a 40-minute set, the band played a lot of favorites from the self-titled album and last year’s Talon of the Hawk. That was absolutely fine by me, though it was also amazing to hear a new, untitled song and even cooler to hear “Jim Bogart”. TFB just released a new ep, Rose, named after drummer Mat Uycich’s grandmother Rosemary, which features re-recorded, previously unreleased songs from the days when the band was just producing music for friends to hear.

By the time TFB left the stage, my voice was pretty much shot. I still managed to get keyboardist/trumpeter/guitarist Ciaran O’Donnell’s attention by screaming his name like a pterodactyl (sorry, Ciaran), who was an absolute darling and gave us a setlist to take home. After the show, we stuck around to chat with the boys from You Blew It! and got to chat with Mat and Ciaran, as well as Kenny from Say Anything, which was super cool.

Last time we saw TFB, I asked lead singer Brian Sella to write out lyrics from “Santa Monica” for a tattoo, which he did rather reluctantly. Though we didn’t get to see Sella so that I could show him (we had a train to catch), I did get to show Mat and Ciaran, both of whom said that Brian very rarely does stuff like that. As Ciaran pointed out, “he doesn’t want to be part of something that someone will regret one day.” I’m hoping that next time we see TFB, I can thank Sella for being kind enough to temper his handwriting so that it could be inked in my skin forever.

Photo by AR.
Photo by AR.

Going into the Say Anything set, I was on an absolute high that I hoped would remain for the rest of the show. Luckily, frontman Max Bemis brought a ton of presence to the stage and the rest of the band was so energetic and into the music that the high only continued. The song selection was pretty much perfect — Bemis’ wife Sherri DuPree Bemis and their daughter joined the band onstage for “Cemetery”, which had everyone dying, and the entire venue screamed every word to “Wow, I Can Get Sexual, Too”. Seeing Bemis perform “Every Man Has a Molly” acoustic during the encore was hands down the best part of the set for me. The band played a great mixture of old and new songs from their ridiculously large catalog, but I’ll keep holding out hope for a 10-year “Is A Real Boy…” tour just because it would be perfect.

Waiting in line for hours to be on barricade for this show was absolutely worth it. Our portion of the crowd was really respectful of each other but also really into the show, which is always a great combination, and the small child next to me who was at the show with his mom and dad seemed to have an awesome time, which somehow became super important to me once I realized he was there. As much as people complain about the House of Blues because it’s a corporate chain, I’ve never had a bad experience attending a show there. Security gave out water to thirsty, overheated crowd members without having to be asked, and everything was very organized from beginning to end. I had an absolutely amazing time and would absolutely repeat the experience, beginning to end, without changing a thing.

Concert Recap: Say Anything, The Front Bottoms, The So So Glos, You Blew It!

Concert Recap: The Front Bottoms, You Blew It!, Valencourt

One thing I’ve learned since I saw them for the first time in July and then again in November is that The Front Bottoms put on a really fucking good show. On Saturday, Feb. 1, I saw them for the third time in less than a year, and it was the most incredible and intense experience I’ve had at one of their shows. That’s saying something, given how hard their fans go — especially in Rhode Island, which for whatever reason, has kids that go harder than any others I’ve seen. (Must be something in the water.)

The show was at The Met in Pawtucket, RI, a venue that’s on par for intimacy with Paradise Rock Club (though really, it’s even smaller, especially since it’s only one floor and there isn’t even an entryway before the actual venue space — the doors just open right onto the floor). AR saw Transit there in December with their younger brother, and I’ve been looking forward to seeing The Front Bottoms there since AR told me how small the venue is.

TFBTattooThis concert has been at the top of my List of Things to Look Forward To for months. And it was even better than I ever could have hoped or dreamed. Brian Sella and Matt Uychich come out before the show to give us hot chocolate (appropriate, given that it was the last night of The Hot Chocolate Tour) and hang out for a few minutes, despite the cold. And when I asked him to write out one of his lyrics for me to get tattooed (“I wanna be stronger than your dad was for your mom”), Sella gave me a rather dubious look but then promised he’d write it out and bring me back the paper.

He returned shortly before doors opened with a torn piece of paper displaying three versions of the lyric, warned me that his handwriting is awful, and told me to think about it before he went back inside. I didn’t get a chance to tell Sella exactly why I want the lyric, or what it means to me, or how it felt the first time I heard it and every time I’ve heard it since. I’m hopeful that the next time we see The Front Bottoms, I’ll have the tattoo and can talk to him about it then.

AR and I snagged spots right up against the stage for the show itself — the stage was low, and pressed right against my upper thighs when the crowd started to lose it during You Blew It!, one of the opening bands. My entire body aches from being at the front of that pit, getting kicked in the head repeatedly by crowd-surfers and stage-divers, and throwing myself into the music just as hard as everyone around me. My throat still feels raw from screaming the lyrics and until I showered this morning, I felt dead. To be honest, I still feel like a bit of a zombie. The Front Bottoms’ fans always go incredibly hard and it’s been a while since I’ve been at the front of a pit and stayed there. In fact, the last time was at my first TFB show in July. If possible, the crowd at The Met went even harder than the crowd at The Sinclair — I think the intimacy of the space was both a blessing and a curse, in that respect.

TFB
Being jostled by the crowd made all of my photos blurry, but The Front Bottoms nailed it.

The band played a really solid mixture of songs from the self-titled album and its newest release, Talon of the Hawk (2013), as well as “Twelve Feet Deep” from one of its earlier albums. You Blew It! made continuous appearances on stage to fuck with The Front Bottoms, since it was the last night on tour. They sang happy birthday to each member of the band, shoved cupcakes in their faces, came on stage dressed as robots… The lead singer of You Blew It! even appeared in a “wrestling outfit” to challenge Sella, who’d declared he wanted to become a wrestler named The Schwing, and the two “battled” on stage. At the end of the night, when The Front Bottoms played “Twin Size Mattress”, You Blew It! set up its instruments on stage, and helped play the latter half of the song.

The night ended just as well as it started — by the end of the show, AR and I were both drenched in sweat and sore as hell but so, so stoked about the whole evening. The middle parts were also excellent; You Blew It! played a super high energy set and seemed genuinely thankful to be on stage in front of so many people who were so into their songs. A ton of people in the crowd had clearly come to the show to see the band, which was awesome.

Prior to You Blew It! taking the stage, local musician Valencourt played a handful of gorgeous acoustic songs, including a cover of Brand New’s “Play Crack the Sky”. We met him after the show and he was incredibly sweet. I owe him $3, because he let me pay him the only $2 I had in my wallet for the $5, 10-track album. (Jeff, I promise I’m going to pay you back!) He also gave AR his info so that we can interview him about successfully Kickstarting said album for Velociriot!, which is super exciting.

All in all, Saturday was everything I could have wanted and more. Next time The Front Bottoms are in New England, we’ll definitely be at the show — this band has become one that I can’t miss. I don’t suspect that will change anytime soon.

Concert Recap: The Front Bottoms, You Blew It!, Valencourt

Album Review: You Me At Six, Cavalier Youth, 2014

YMAS_CYYou Me At Six came into my life nearly five years ago. In that five years, I’ve seen the band live three times — and I’ve been lucky enough to meet its members each time. I’ve also been lucky enough to listen to You Me At Six’s musical journey, from the playful but semi-maudlin pop punk of its debut, Take Off Your Colours (several songs of which have become anthems for not only me, but every fan of this band), to the harder sounds of its sophomore album Hold Me Down and then the dark anger of Sinners Never Sleep.

Now, the band has released Cavalier Youth, and this album is so good that my first listen quite literally took my breath away. For that matter, so did my second. And my third. In the Alter the Press! review of the album, the writer made the claim that this record is significantly more optimistic than previous YMAS releases — and she isn’t wrong. But what strikes me most about this album isn’t the optimism that seems to underlie it.

It’s the fact that all of the things lead singer Josh Franceschi has been singing about for three records — heartbreak, betrayal, growing up, falling in love, killing yourself to live — are still present, in spades, on Cavalier Youth. But this time around, the songs blend into such a cohesive story that it feels like the band is suiting up for war — and it’s suiting up its fans to fight, too.

In the video for the record’s second single, “Fresh Start Fever”, YMAS quite literally suit someone up for battle. The song talks about moving on from the past, moving forward into the future even when everything is fucked up and uncertain. And it strikes a chord. Heard in context of the rest of Cavalier Youth, the song contributes to the overall theme of running at life, full-tilt, no holds barred, and kicking its ass. The album is optimistic, yes. But it’s also a reminder: no one lives forever, and the limited time we have is riddled with problems and proverbial storms that no one is ever truly prepared to handle. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t good, or that it can’t be good.

The opening track, “Too Young to Feel This Old”, sets the pace for the entire album. Listening to it feels like a journey through a series of emotions, from hopeful to devastated to hopeful again. It feels like a coming of age story told explicitly through music, and the growth You Me At Six has gone through as a band and as people is apparent from the first note. The wisdom (and the pain, and the refusal to back down) imparted through Franceschi’s lyrics is backed by incredible instrumentals from the rest of the band and the energy never dies. Even the final track, “Wild Ones” — a slower song that ends the album with a haunting repetition of “Are we gonna live forever? No” (a nice callback to the lyrical themes in “Too Young to Feel This Old”, bringing the album full circle) — doesn’t diminish any of the pulsing energy of the album.

The band hasn’t lost its propensity for anthemic tracks. Since its debut, You Me At Six has produced songs that, especially when performed live, have such power to them that they make you feel like your chest has caved in, like you can’t possibly keep standing for all the adrenaline thrumming in your veins. Cavalier Youth starts with just such a track — and then comes “Lived a Lie”, which ends with the heartstopping choral repetition of “We are believers, we are believers”. And then “Fresh Start Fever”. And then…

There’s not a single track on this album that doesn’t feel simultaneously like a kick in the chest and an uplifting call to fight for survival. What’s even better is that, like on previous releases, YMAS writes ghosts of older songs into its new ones. Lyrics return, either partially or in their entirety, and add a depth of feeling to the new tracks that’s absolutely unparalleled. Hearing lines like “the shallow is as shallow does” on this album, after hearing the words for the first time on the band’s debut, makes me want to go back and re-evaluate everything the band has produced thus far. And that happens every time YMAS releases something new. It’s really fucking cool.

My connection to this band is especially prevalent because I’m the same age as its members, and the world events and musical stylings that have run in my blood for almost 24 years have also deeply affected these men. You Me At Six came into my life when I was 19 years old, a sophomore in college trying to navigate the torrential waters of adulthood. I think it’s fair to say that since then, I’ve learned some pretty serious life lessons and grown in noticeable, remarkable ways. You Me At Six has seen me through all of that.

I made a promise to myself that 2014 would be incredible, no matter what. I’m not at all surprised that You Me At Six seems to be on the same page, because for the last five years, I’ve been able to fall into the band’s music at any given point, with total empathy for the lyrical content and overall vibe. Cavalier Youth is going to narrate this year. I can feel it already. And I’m ready for whatever life has to throw at me. Let’s go.

Album Review: You Me At Six, Cavalier Youth, 2014

New to Me Music: Trophy Wives

Photo courtesy of Trophy Wives' website.
Photo courtesy of Trophy Wives’ website.

In December, AR took their younger brother to his first concert. The headliner was Transit and the venue was The Met in Pawtucket, RI. I received a series of texts about the intimacy of the venue (including several about how excited AR is to see The Front Bottoms there in February — after seeing the photos, I am, too) and about the crowd. Those were pretty standard — but what surprised me was that, maybe an hour after those initial texts stopped, I received several more (and even a video) about one of Transit’s opening bands: Trophy Wives.

Now, AR and I have both experienced shows where the openers were either amazing or terrible — and either memorable or non memorable because of it. AR loved Trophy Wives. In their review of the show, they said:

Their music is solid, punch-life-in-the-face-while-wearing-a-crewneck pop punk – I described them to my friend “like Pencey Prep and The Wonder Years had a baby”, high praise coming from me.

Since then, AR has played them in my car more than once and I’ve sort of fallen in love. They remind me more of Four Year Strong than anything, but that’s awesome — I think there needs to be a significantly larger number of posi-pop-hardcore-punk bands in the world, because the style of music is outrageously energetic and super fun. It’s good for a good mood and helps cheer you up when you’re in a bad mood — Trophy Wives make me want to crawl into a pit and punch ten dudes, but in a good way.

The band is based in Providence, RI, which is great because I’m moving there in March. I always like exploring local scenes and getting into small, local bands. Trophy Wives fits that bill perfectly. In fact, they’re opening a show at The Met at the end of February that AR and I are planning to attend just to see them. I’m stoked to see them play live, because I’ve heard such awesome things about them and their recorded stuff is really solid. It’s catchy and interesting, unique enough to keep my attention while also reminding me of bands on this scene that I’ve loved for years.

Of course, part of that is likely the fact that the first thing I ever heard by them was their cover of Sum 41’s “Fat Lip”, which they performed at the Transit show. AR sent me a brief recording of it (and it was apparent that very few people in the crowd knew the lyrics, which makes me feel so old that I can’t stand it) and it was incredible. After some research on the band, I discovered that their cover of the song won them the chance to open for Sum 41 at The Met (are you seeing a theme yet?) in September 2012:

It’s been a while since I’ve fallen so quickly for an opening band — especially one that I didn’t even get to see in person — so it’s nice to have this feeling again. It’s a weird combination of the satisfaction of a good discovery and the joy of knowing that there’s only more to come.  Long story short, if you need more positive, hardcore-esque pop punk in your life, check out Trophy Wives. I assure you that you will not be disappointed.

 

New to Me Music: Trophy Wives

Concert Recap: You Me At Six (Tonight Alive, Conditions)

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.

YMASOn 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.)

Concert Recap: You Me At Six (Tonight Alive, Conditions)