Take Me Back to 2001…

In 2001, I was fifteen years old.  Where every mistake, rejection, and rude comment made you feel like it was the end of the world.  Getting lost in a lyric, a story in a book, a film, my favorite television show, or in the dance studio was my way of dealing with it.  The entertainment industry was my escape, and still is to this day.

Los Angeles is a big high school.  A sea of people craving approval from society.  Hoping that one day they will be accepted into the inner circle.  Every criticism is exactly what Simple Plan fought.  They rejected the normal and craved for people to understand the outcast.  On Saturday night, I got to see one of my favorite bands, Simple Plan, play at the Wiltern in Los Angeles.  It has been 15 years since their first album came out.  It brought me back to a more carefree time.  Remembering how one band or one song can have a such a huge impact on your life.  As I stood in the venue, I looked around at the crowd.  People of all ages from teenagers to adults in their thirties and forties; all affected by the band that was about to take the stage.  To this day, their message hasn’t changed and it still affects everyone that has ever felt like the outsider.

Before Simple Plan took the stage there were two opening acts – Seaway and Set It Off.  Both bands killed it!  Going to concerts like this brings music alive again with strong guitars, energetic drums, and lyrics that fight to give the quiet kid a voice.  It’s not like rap or pop music.  There seems to be more meaning behind rock music that gives it an edge.  It can connect on another level of the developed musical phrasing, the piecing together of the different instruments into a cohesive sound, and the lyrical versing that can help you get lost.  Seaway was the first to step out on stage.  They seem like they are still working on finding their live voice, and how to bring energy to an audience who doesn’t know who they are.  There was a song that really stood out to me and that was “Best Mistake” off of their “Colour Blind” album.  Maybe why it struck a chord was it was the epitome of 90s rock where it sounds like one loud mix of multiple instruments fighting for the lead with an overlay of screaming the lyrics over the guitars.  It brought me back to the night of staying up too late in college where my friends and I were wandering around the streets of a small town singing random songs that we barely knew the words to as we attempted to do piggyback races down the street.  Why I say it was my best mistake?  Well, the night ended with a bloody face (because someone got dropped), a hand being slammed in a car door, and a crying girlfriend, but it was still one of those nights that was the best because it was simple.  We were just a bunch of 21-year-olds having fun on a Saturday night.

Set It Off had so much energy.  If Fall Out Boy and The Summer Set had a baby I’m pretty sure it would have been this band.  The lead singer Cody Carson has the powerhouse voice and talking fast talents of Patrick Stump and the rasp of Brian Dales.  Can we talk about heaven, because that is Cody’s voice.  Set It Off started as a band back in 2008 and even though some members have changed out over the years they have had a solid crew since 2010 which includes, Cody Carson, Maxx Danziger, Dan Clermont, and Zach DeWall.  One of the best things about going to a live concert is you get to experience new bands that you may have never heard before.  Set It Off was one of those bands for me and their song “Something New” really brought me out of a funk I was feeling that day.  I have been getting lost in my own head lately.  Worrying about never truly being happy.  Never finding that career that I seem to be looking for constantly.  Worrying that those people that love and support me will somehow disappear.  Feeling frustrated that others are moving faster towards a future with that one person that totally understands them.  At least isn’t that how it always feels because of the images that projected all over social media?  The lyrics go:

“I think it, I say it, I write it, erase it,
And break my back so I don’t let you down,
I’m restless and twisted, strung out, addicted
To chasing after picture perfect sound.

And if there’s one thing in my life,
That I’ve been fighting day and night,
Well, it’s my fear of flying standby,
I feel I’ve opened up my eyes,
I shook the nightmare from my mind,
I checked the clock and now it’s my time.

So lemme show you something new,
I need a little revolution,
This could be like a revelation,
Make you see oh that a change is overdue,
Lemme show you something new”

It was like listening to a song that was saying exactly what I was thinking at that time.  Worried about standing still, the need of something new, and being so twisted and strung out from all the thinking that you just want to scream and throw every responsibility out the window.  That excitement to try something that scares every fiber of your being but you do it anyway.  It is time for that push to jump off the cliff.  Is it weird that I thrive on change, but crave the comfort of the people that have known me forever?  It’s almost like wanting to try different things, but know that a safety net is going to catch you if you fall flat on your face.  After hearing “Something New” I had to watch the music video and that thought process of wanting your friends by your side that you trust indefinitely while doing something scary, it doesn’t seem so scary anymore to do something new.

When Simple Plan stepped on stage the crowd went crazy.  It was like the fire was finally ignited and the audience was ready to get lost in a song that they knew.  The band played their entire first album cover to cover including the song that really skyrocketed their career  “I’m just a Kid.”  It was a song that was really ingrained in my high school years like Green Day’s “American Idiot” album.  The years 1998-2006 were the years of the rock and punk bands.  It was like guitar exploded on the radio – Simple Plan, Green Day, Fall Out Boy, All American Rejects, Fountains of Wayne, Bowling for Soup, Offspring, Blink 182…etc.  It was the years of thought-provoking lyrics, music that you felt understood your angst as a teenager, and those fun tunes that you would sing randomly with your best friends when you locked yourself in your bedroom as you danced around jumping your bed as your parents yelled at you to turn down the noise.

Living in Los Angeles has been an adventure the last few years.  Unlike going to other concerts on the east coast where you talk to those strangers that you don’t know because you have the same favorite song, and make new friends with those people standing next to you all night, where everyone has a tendency to stick to their own group that they came with at the event.  It’s like sticking to the status quo and if you talk to that person next to you then you might not be the coolest one the in the room anymore.  Simple Plan played a few songs that were off their second album – “Crazy” and “Welcome To My Life.”  Both were popular back in 2003 and are still an anthem for every emo kid to ever exist.  When they began to play the song “Crazy” it got me thinking about life in LA.  The conversations that you overhear about money, dating, and lifestyle.  I haven’t met very many real people out here.  It seems like the whole city is masked which makes it difficult to make friends because you don’t know if someone wants to become friends with you because of what you do or where you work, or if it is because they actually like you as a person.  The city is very materialistic.  It is more important about the car you drive, what you wear, and what you look like than about who you are as a person.  I think when Simple Plan played that song “Crazy” it really went above everyone’s head in the venue.  Did anyone in the audience really understand it?  That it is about people, and caring about people and the person that we are as individuals.  Maybe someday LA will open up their eyes, but for now, I leave you with “Crazy.”

Advertisements

The Radio Killed That Song, but So Did I

Back in sophomore year of college, my roommate had a bad break up with a guy that she had been on and off with for two years.  During the first three months of their break up all she would play is Wake Me Up When September Ends by Green Day, on a constant loop.  I wish CDs or records were popular then because I would have smashed it into bits after the first month of her playing it nonstop.  Unfortunately, Limewire and iTunes were blowing up during that time, so everything was digital.  Needless to say, my other roommates and I had to endure the pain and the slow death of this great song for months.  As Billie Jo Armstrong’s soft spoken lyrics and hypnotic guitar chords rang throughout our fifth floor dorm room, we beat our heads in with pillows every time it came on.

Why do we feel the need to play a song so much on repeat till we can barely stand it anymore?  It is because we connect with it in some way, but to someone else it becomes a song they can never listen to again.  Think about the radio.  When a song first comes out and you hear it for the first time on the radio, you just can’t wait to hear it again.  So, you switch stations until you find another station that is playing it.  Ultimately, it becomes popular, gets numerous requests, and becomes a song you can’t stand anymore that you turn off the radio every time it comes on.

What happens between the time you hear the song and the time you can no longer stand the song?  I’m going to let you in on a secret – Your life changes.  Last year, I was obsessed with the songs Blank Space (Taylor Swift) and Steal Your Heart (Ross Lynch – Austin & Ally).  I think back to this time last year and realized that a boy had re-entered into my life that wanted to get into a serious relationship with me.  I had no interest in getting serious with anyone as I had plans to move to Los Angeles by the end of the year.  So, my love life became a game instead where I could “steal your heart” and “…I got a blank space baby And I’ll write your name.”  Do I listen to either one of those songs currently?  Nope.

Now, my new obsessions are Stitches (Shawn Mendes) and Black Magic (Little Mix), but not for the reasons you think.  Yes, these songs reflect images of love, but to me, love can be for anything or anyone.  I have been feeling a little broken lately, and these two songs make me think of being whole again.  As friends get married, have babies, move out of state, or make career adjustments, it becomes difficult to stay in touch.  You miss people that use to always be there that you took for granted.  You question your own choices like you are doing something wrong.  I’m not making excuses for anyone because if you truly want to stay in touch with someone you will make an effort.  Even if it is a phone call two years later, or a text message that says “Remember the time we were singing La Vie Boheim in our dorm room with mops and throwing pixie stick sugar at each other?  Those were good days!  I miss you!”  Needless to say, these two songs remind me that anything can be mended with time, a good friend, or having your family closer.  To those who feel a little broken, know that you are stronger than you feel, you will mend quicker than you think, and that those people who have always been there, will always be there; even if it is just a memory.  Sometimes, you need to kill a song or two to get to a good place.