There are concerts and then there are experiences. Concerts are when you stand in a venue, listen to some music and have a great time by yourself or with friends. They are great and I honestly spend more time at concerts than not. Then you have experiences. Experiences are when the music completely sweeps you off your feet. These experiences typically end with a sweat drenched body, a couple bumps and bruises, and one of the biggest smiles you have ever seen. Last night was an experience, not a concerts, and it was an experience I will not soon forget.
After grabbing one of the last meals I’ll ever have at The Triple Rock (I am going to miss their vegetarian po’boys more than I’d like to admit), my friend and I made our way towards The Cabooze. As we started approaching the building, we saw the line jutting out of the door and down the block a little bit. Although we knew we would have to stand in the misty cold as we waited for our turn to enter the venue, my friend and I had giant smiles on our faces. We knew what was coming and we were anxious and ready for it.
After getting a drink, we claimed out spots near the stage but off to the side. Our timing was impeccable. As we got used to our surroundings, I watched as singer Kristopher Roe walked up the steps to the stage followed by his band. The Ataris were a staple in my playlist. They were one of those bands that had a song for ever emotion you could possibly feel in a day and, as an angsty teenager, there were a lot of emotions. Were you pissed off at your parents? Throw on ‘Teenage Riot’. Did you just get dumped by your boyfriend? Throw on ‘Giving Up On Love’. Were you just being an emotional mess? Throw on their entire “So Long, Astoria” album. The Ataris were always there for me no matter what was going on and being able to see them last night was almost as exciting as seeing New Found Glory.
Unfortunately, their set was short. I mean, ridiculously short. I wanted to hear everything. I wanted to relive my childhood. Clearly, I couldn’t have my cake and eat it too. It was amazing enough that New Found Glory was about to play through two full albums so I tried to be okay with the fact that The Ataris were only on stage for around a half an hour. Thankfully, they made good use of their time and played some of my favorites including ‘The Hero Dies In This One’. I sang along to the words and, yeah, shed a tear or two. Their pop-punk anthems were ringing in my ears when it was said and done. Sure, it’s been years since I listened to The Ataris but as I watched them perform, it was like nothing had changed. It was an absolutely perfect way to start the night.
The stage was quickly turned over for the main attraction of the night- New Found Glory. With balloons reading to throw out to the crowd and a white sheet obstructing the sold out crowd’s view of the stage, the four members of this iconic pop-punk band blasted onto the stage. Celebrating 20 years of music, New Found Glory promised the crowd that they would play through their 2002 release ‘Sticks and Stones’ and their 2004 album ‘Catalyst’ in their entirety. The trick was, they weren’t going to play them in order. I stood there in amazement as I watched the original members of this band (technically there was a different drummer for the first year but I feel like 19 out of twenty years still makes Cyrus an OG) power through their set with the same passion and love that I saw them with over ten years ago.
New Found Glory’s music is pop-punk. Hell, at times it’s straight up pop but that doesn’t matter to me. What matters is this band came into my life at a time when I needed something, anything. I suffered with an absolutely nasty bout of depression and it took me a long time to realize how music could help snap me out of it. I still remember having super dark days, coming home, putting my ‘Stick and Stones’ CD into my boombox, blasting it as loud as I could and dancing around my room like an idiot until it was dinner time. It made me feel something– anything– and that was what I needed– it was what New Found Glory (and many other bands) gave me.
My friend and I somehow found ourselves right up front as we watched singer Jordan Pudnik storm across the stage with a sense of power that was worthy of any great metal band. We screamed along to every single word and, even though we knew what the band was going to play, we grabbed each other when we would hear them kick off our favorite songs. It was 27 songs of pure bliss for the older crowd that had formed a giant sweaty mess just in front of the stage. It was easy to see that nearly everyone in the venue had been effected by this band in some way or another. I think it’s safe to say that majority of the crowd of late twenty and early thirty-somethings probably wouldn’t have been there last night had there not been bands like New Found Glory to save us from ourselves.
I honestly don’t know what more needs to be said. I don’t know that anything else can be said. There are certain bands that one finds a connection with and, unless you share the connection, there’s nothing I can say that will make you understand what was going on through my head during a show like last night’s. Seeing a band that literally saved your life is more than just a concerts– it’s an experience.