originally planned as a concert to attend with my best friend, this show at
meeting three fellow concert goers in line,
drinking some cold canned coffee and discussing touring, wrestling, and memes with the guys was fun, and to my surprise, they remembered me, which was very nice. i am not very struck by meeting band members, celebrities, etc; so i just spoke to them like i would anyone else, making the conversation comfortable and relaxed.
after meeting the band, i was soon let into the venue with everyone else and for the first time since 2013, i was front row. i didn’t care for being front row before this – i was always a ‘middle of the crowd kind of girl’ who didn’t mind carrying crowdsurfers or being the wall to a mosh pit, but can i just say that being literally right up against the stage, looking eye to eye with musicians you listen to everyday and admire, is something completely out of this world. i also felt physically more comfortable than being in the middle of the crowd, as i had a barrier to lean on, which put less pressure on my feet and body throughout the show.
the first band, eat your heart out, came on after an hour of doors opening and were bogged down by sound issues, making the music difficult to hear. dunno what the sound engineer was doing during this set, but it wasn’t their job, that’s for damn sure. however, the band was fun to watch, and interacted with the crowd often to entice first time listeners (including me!).
after a twenty minute intermission, a band i was super excited to see, grayscale, took the stage. with the sound issues thankfully fixed, the band opened their set with their song, let it rain, an upbeat track to get the crowd hyped and show really going. the five piece band lit up the venue with crisp instrumentation, particularly the drums sounding especially good, while the vocals of lead singer collin and guitarist dallas blended wonderfully and filled the venue with slick, smooth harmonies.
i was incredibly excited to hear the band’s song fever dream, a moody, emotion driven song filled with aggressive guitars and rough vocals. the crowd absolutely went nuts during this tune, crowd surfers coming in herds during the high energy chorus, my face getting kicked only once, which is a pretty good result, considering i was front row.
the rest of grayscales set was energetic, fun, and incredibly effective at getting the crowd pumped up for the next band, boston manor. only knowing one song from them, they were the band i was the least excited to see, but i must admit, they impressed me considerably during their set.
boston manor is a band from england (which is a fact i learned during their set as their accents delighted me from the barrier), whose sound is a mix between emo, punk, and alternative mashed into a soundscape of intense timbres and emotional lyricism. my new friends were super excited to see their set and were bubbling with thrill the entire time the english four piece were on the stage. the band’s stage presence was galvanizing and enticing, each member thrashing about and enthusiastically headbanging to the rhythm of their songs.
mosh pits and crowdsurfers took to the high energy music, making the audience rivet with aggressive excitement only a live rock band can produce from a crowd of teenagers and 20 something year old’s. while boston manor’s music didn’t exactly strike a nerve within me, their set was still an incredibly entertaining one, a display that made an impression with me and contribute to an amazing night.
another intermission ensues and the crowd is buzzing as we wait for the headliner – the band the majority of us were waiting to see – real friends. i remember seeing the lights go low and smoke crowd the stage and then, in a flash, the band were in front of me, just had they’d been three times prior.
there’s something that’s special about real friends, being the band i’ve seen the most times out of any artist i listen to, the five piece chicago pop punk heavy hitters reserving a permanent place in my heart. something about their songs has resonated with me at every stage in my life, each of their albums relating to certain ages i was pertaining to their release. i started listening to the band when i was 13 years old, a year after they burst onto the scene, and had the incredibly lucky opportunity to see the band in st. catharines in 2013 in a room of 20 people. my then fourteen year old self was one of the only girls in the crowd and i shoved and pushed with the burly dudes at the front, grabbing the mic from dan’s hands and shouting out the words with teenage passion and elated happiness.
i felt the same feelings as i stood at the barrier six years later, the only differences being the time passed, the band’s repertoire increasing in quantity and quality, and the sold out venue i stood in, surrounded by screaming fans of all ages. but the emotion was exactly as it was when i was just a wide eyed kid, and everytime i go to shows, these feelings i vividly experience are exactly the reason of why i attend shows.
opening up the set with the first song, me first, on their new album, the crowd goes wild, jumping, shoving, thrashing, moshing, and surfing about. the band is as fantastic as always, their sound exploding through the venue and lighting up the crowd, all of us screaming their lyrics back at them with delight as we all get lost in the familiar sound of our favourite band.
i remember losing my god damn mind when they decided to play their song home for fall, a tune from their second EP, everyone that dragged you here. the song is my favourite from the band, also being one of the first songs i ever heard from them. i hadn’t heard it live since seeing them when i was 14!
real friends’ set was great – the band is incredibly interactive with the crowd, talking to fans, asking questions, and even at one point, inviting a lucky concert goer up on stage to sing a song with them! their kind hearted, silly nature always appealed to me as a fan, reminding me that these band members in front of me are just normal 20 to 30 something year old dudes doing what they love. as i get older, the starry eyed admiration dulls from my mindset since i’ve worked in the industry – but there will always be an innumerable amount of respect for their musicianship and careers.
the band’s set lasted for about an hour, and in that time, it was as if the entire world around me faded away. for once that semester, i wasn’t worrying about school, work, family, or relationships – all there was was the music, and for me, that was enough.
i can say with certainty that this show was the best once i’ve been to so far. i just needed to immortalize the experience somewhere – and with all shows going forward, i intend to speak of them on my blog as well to always have an archive of each show i attend.
hope you liked this article – what was the best concert you’ve ever been to? let me know in the comments, if you’d like.