I love music. Growing up, my dad would always walk around either playing his guitar or humming Beatles tunes. One of the most defining moments of my dad’s and my relationship is, one night after a long work shift we were driving down the long, dark stretch of highway between Cape Coral and Punta Gorda and “Just What I Needed” by The Cars came on. My dad rolled down his window, turned the volume up and we both sang along with it. It was beautiful. We shared many moments like this. My dad is the reason I got into music, I tried learning guitar in order to bond with him. I formed my taste in music by going through his CDs and listening to them. Zeppelin, The Doors, The Beatles, Talking Heads, The Rolling Stones.
In high school and directly thereafter, when I wasn’t working or over thinking the girls I had crushes on, I was in bands. Pop punk bands. I played shows, wrote songs, bonded. When we weren’t playing shows we would find ourselves at other shows. I have always been fond of live music. I think nothing compares, not even the most perfectly balanced record, to the emotion and energy of a live performance. I wanted to look back on the top 5 live shows I have ever been to, whether it be for performance reasons, emotional reasons, or energy reasons. This was probably the hardest list I’ve ever had to compile. Here we go:
- You Blew It! in Brooklyn, NY - 2013
I have bragged on and on about how great my friends from Florida, You Blew It, are. Even Jonah Ray of The Nerdist fame has gone on record to talk about them. They are both original and unique as well as nostalgic and reminiscent of iconic indie bands. Earlier this year, as part of one of their (many) east coast tours, they played at this tiny, shitty dive in Brooklyn. Somewhere out in Bushwick or Williamsburg or Greenpoint. The Spot, I think?
It had been two years since I had last seen my friends so, on top of a fun show, the energy was that of a reunion. Plus, the crowd was super into them and dancing around and singing along and having fun.
- A Great Big Pile Of Leaves in Brooklyn, NY - 2012
I have seen AGBPOL twice, I am talking about the second time I saw them. I was introduced to AGBPOL through my good friend and fellow Luchador, Jim Lester, and I thank him for it quite often. The first time I saw them, which is why I’m saving that as honorable mention number one, was also my first time ever hanging out with somebody so it had many pretenses to the night. The second time was completely void of that. It was just a rock show. It was killer fun.
- Kevin Devine and Manchester Orchestra in Ybor City, FL - 2008
Kevin Devine is my number one modern recording artist. Has been since 2006. His folky roots, indie heart, and emo soul, as well as his natural knack for poetic, prose-like lyrics that are filled to the brim with witty wordplay and honesty easily found its way into my heart. The second (?) time I saw Kevin was in 2008 (again, ?) for my friend Jessica’s 21st birthday. It was with my friends Monica, Wendy, Jessica, and Tyler and we went to Ybor City. It was a fun day spent eating, watching my older friends drink, walking around a city we never hung out in, and watching my friends shop. Then we saw Kevin and Manchester Orchestra and it was great. I don’t remember the context but, in defense of my friends and I, I told some kid that he was a child and told him not to be ‘that guy’. It was cool.
- Bayside and The Starting Line in Fort Lauderdale, FL - 2008
This was part of The Starting Line’s farewell tour in either 2008 or 2009. I went with Tyler, probably the person I’ve seen the most shows with, as we were both avid Bayside fans and The Starting Line fans. We wound up running into our friend Piper in the audience and got post-show Denny’s with her. The sets by Bayside and The Starting Line were great, I probably came close to losing my voice. I remember buying a snare head signed by The Starting Line and getting mad when, directly after buying the only one on display, another was placed on the rack.
- Paulson in Cape Coral, FL - 2007
Paulson was probably the most agreed upon “good” indie band between my friends and I in 2007. We would hang out at our friend’s house, a house that hosted many local shows, late at night, listening to their album “All At Once” and talk about girls. We would go camping, on late night drives, on insomniac trips to Walmart, skateboarding, roadtrips and, the only album spinning in our CD players was All At Once.
One night my friend Jake calls me to say that Paulson was going to be playing in my friend David’s living room. I lost it. This band, this awesome and talented indie band from New Jersey, was going to be playing in my friend’s living room. A living room that was practically my second home. Holy shit.
The energy at that show was incredible. Easily a hundred local kids piled into my friend’s living room, all of us sweating and happy, and everyone danced. Everyone sang. Nobody was cool or stuck up or shy. Everyone gave this band their all. It was inspiring.
Sorry if this isn’t the best writing, I’m not good at organizing my thoughts into cohesive passages, it’s 4:15 in the morning, and it’s all based on memory and feelings. You get the gist though. I love music, I love shows, I miss going to a billion shows. The end, byeeeeeeeeee.