Yesterday was a good day, but it was good for two different Beckys. The first half was amazing for kind-of-adult Becky. I had my final probationary review at work yesterday afternoon and I passed. I now have an actual permanent position, with job security, for the first time in my nearly twenty-five years (I do not count the almost 12 months where I worked full time at Subway because I was on a bit of a dodgy award and I was making next-to-nothing an hour).
Not only that, but the boss also agreed to try and extend my hours so that I’ll have even more job security and will (hopefully) be able to get out of debt and into savings a lot faster than what I’m currently doing.
Kind-of-adult Becky had a fantastic day.
The other Becky, the teenaged Becky who still sports her ebony black hair swept over her right eye and wears band shirts so often it’s like she’s a Sim, also had a great day. Because last night she actually got to be a teenager again and watch one of her favourite bands perform an album, in full, that was a huge part of her adolescence. This band was The Used, and the album was In Love and Death.
When I discovered The Used, I was about 15, possible 16, and a friend of mine burnt me a CD with a few of their tracks on it (remember when people burnt you CDs?). Unfortunately, when I began my love affair, The Used had already toured and I missed out on seeing them. The Used have toured a few times since then, but I’ve always lacked the financial capabilities of seeing them. Until now.
What impressed me was that both support acts were Australian. Usually the first act is an “undiscovered” Australian act that only a select few people in the audience know. But the second support is usually a fringe act from the headliner’s country of origin who everyone usually knows (e.g. The Academy Is for Anberlin, Cobra Starship for Panic! At The Disco, Pierce the Veil for Escape The Fate). But this time the second support was another Australian band called Storm the Sky. Now, I had never heard these guys’ stuff before, but friends of mine love them. And for obvious reasons, now that I have seen them live. These guys had a stage presence and charisma about them that, no matter how big or small an act is, can make a live show.
The first act, Corpus, were also amazing. Just two guys, two microphones, a guitar and a drum kit. Unfortunately, I think there was a bit of an issue with their amp or something because it was very hard to make out the melody over the feedback from the speakers. But, what I could discern out of the static was amazing. It’s always been something I’ve noticed with live gigs: the quality of amp and crispness of the music gets progressively better as the acts go on. Someone should really rectify this, because I wish I could’ve heard more of Corpus’ stuff.
In between Storm the Sky and The Used, the background music changed from the top 40 to nostalgia tracks. There’s something kind of beautiful about a crowd of hardcore alternative music fans in their studded shirts and ripped jeans moshing to ‘Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)’ and ‘A Thousand Miles’.
Then the lights dimmed, and the heart that you saw in that top photo started glowing. A drum started thumping like a heart and then we were all transported back 15 years.
I’ve been to a bunch of concerts in the past few years, but none of them felt like last night’s gig. Me and my lovely friend from work suddenly found ourselves pressed in on all sides by people who had surged forward the second the band took the stage as the band finally emerged. I had my glasses knocked askew and we grabbed onto each others arms for dear life so as not to be separated by the waves of humanity trying to break over the four men above us. I was immediately transported back to every gig I went to back in my teens. And it has been at least that long since I have been on the floor for a concert.
An incredible photo taken by @ro_osborne of Instagram
I want to go through and break down each song into why it was amazing and how the frontman, Bert McCracken, made everything seem individually personal even though he was addressing a crowd of hundreds, but then we’ll be here forever and a day, so I’ll do this in snapshots:
When Bert flipped the bird during the line “a chemical romance” in ‘Take It Away’ and you remember the breakup of a scene bromance that will never not break your heart.
When we were all encouraged to hug the people around us because the concert was about love and acceptance.
Two men dressed in unicorn onesies.
Multiple circle pits of which I was always, thankfully, just on the outside.
An entire crowd reciting a poem together as one.
One of the biggest post-hardcore bands actually singing “Stand By Me”.
Bert often facing away from us to sing lines to the first love of his life who he, tragically, lost to a drug overdose.
The one actual lighter that was lit during one of the slow songs and waved around like we really were at a gig from 15 years ago.
Bert also singing to the balconies, so that the people up there wouldn’t feel excluded.
When the very first act, Corpus, was brought out on stage to sing the final song (well, before the encore) with The Used. As a young band, there’s no way that The Used wouldn’t have had an influence so I could just imagine what that would have meant to those two gentlemen.
The dozens of times that Bert kind of just stopped and looked at us with love and appreciation in his eyes. I imagine it would be an overwhelming feeling to see a crowd of hundreds still getting pumped, and still singing all of the words, to music you had written over a decade before.
Dancing around, jumping, and screaming at the top of my lungs to songs that I have loved for nearly half of my life and having the people around me be just as excited and enraptured by the music as I was.
But there’s something that I’ve noticed only, really, happens at gigs in smaller venues and that is when a member of the band, usually the frontman, speaks about the songs that they’re about to sing and makes themselves vulnerable. I honestly didn’t know how emotionally brutal this album would have been to make until last night. Bert opened up about his experiences with drugs, losing someone incredibly important to him, and about how one of the songs (‘It’s Hard to Say’) helped him to stay in the band when he was in an incredibly dark place. Live shows become about so much more than music when the crowd is brought into a band’s confidence like that.
When a crowd gets as riled up as they do during circle pits and walls of death, it’s beautiful when the band tells the crowd to look after one another, which is what happened multiple times last night. But the most beautiful moment was when, in the middle of the set, Bert had us all smile aa wide as we could and said that he hoped we all would leave smiling as widely as we were in that moment despite the emotionally heavy second half of the set.
Live music, for me, has always been about community. Much in the same way as fan conventions like SupaNova and Comic-Con are all about community. People getting together who love the same things and who simply enjoy them together, side by side. It’s one of the best feelings in the world, because you know that these hundreds of people and you share in this common interest. You are part of something bigger. And for those few hours, it doesn’t matter about anything but the music and everyone’s love for it.
Which is why, during the encore, I got super annoyed at these two women who had a go at my friend and I. We hightailed it out of the crowd because the band was asking for a Wall of Death. We ended up in the fringes, along with everyone else in the crowd who doesn’t do well in those situations, and these women got mad at us for blocking their view. They were trying to film the gig on their phones (why?) and we were apparently blocking their shot. When one of them said something about being short and wanting to get away from the Wall of Death, I tried to explain that that’s what we were trying to do but they just wanted to be mad.
To those two women, I say: fuck you and grow up. If you want an unobstructed view of a concert, go watch it on TV. Because if you’re down on the floor, directly in front of the stage, you’re going to have an impeded view and you’re going to get people in your personal space, but it shouldn’t matter because that’s part of the deal. And making people feel bad for trying to get out of a situation in which they don’t feel safe is simply a dick move. So fuck you.
Despite those two killjoys, last night was amazing. And I am simply grateful that I got to be a part of it.
Yet another amazing photo, taken by @crissycruejorgensen of Instagram
NB, I attributed the photos that I used (except the very first one, because I took that) to the best of my ability. If you know, or are, the photographers and wish me to attribute further/better, please let me know. You are both incredibly talented and deserve credit for the work that you have done.