Fangirl Concert Series: Flogging Molly & Dropkick Murphy’s at The Stone Pony

I’m seeing a bunch of concerts this summer so I figured that I’d talk about them a little bit, y’all up for it?

Anyway, my summer concert scheduled kicked off with seeing the two most famous Celtic Punk bands in existence. (As these things go, I know it’s a niche genre.) Also, the show was at The Stone Pony, (Well, their outdoor summer stage…not the club itself…) which if you know a lot about Rock history, you’ve probably heard of. (As a primer, it’s the small club in Asbury Park, NJ where Springsteen first assembled The E Street Band.)

I was excited for this show, I’ve been a fan of both Flogging Molly and Dropkick for a while, and hadn’t seen either of them live. This was mostly out of fear, if I’m honest. I like a lot of punk music, but a lot of the crowd action freaks me out. I hate moshing and crowd surfing, so if a venue isn’t big enough that I can hang back, I tend to skip it.

Dropkick’s shows in particular, are notorious for their heavy violent pits, because you know, drunk Irish dudes and angry music.

Anyway. I drove down to Asbury on Sunday, worked my way into the summer stage area (gorgeous, really well laid out.) picked up a Coorrs Lite (Only $6! AT A CONCERT VENUE IN THE TRI STATE AREA! I was floored!) and prepared for the Shenanigans.

Shenanigans were had, friends were made, dancing occurred. I preferred Flogging Molly’s set. I’ve always preferred them though, being more of a Ramones type punk than a Sex Pistols one, and thus I place more emphasis on general songcraft than loud emotion. (There are merits to both) But man, when both bands came out and closed the show with “Shipping Out To Boston” it was such a joyous explosion of musical joy that Dropkick may have won the day. (If this were a competition.) Also enjoyable? Flogging Molly congratulating the Mexican World Cup team on their win, and dedicating their song about parenthood to the separated families at the border, to the general uncomfortable rumblings of their audience. (I had found a lovely group of queer ladies by then, and we all WOOOED and clapped, but it was quiet when they said it.) (Also, I was not like, blown away that discussion on ICE activity brought on uncomfortable grumbling from this audience rather than wild applause, but I’m glad it was brought up.) (For the record, I am staunchly AGAINST ripping children away from their parents and putting them in cages and warehouses.) (I have already called my reps about it and so should you. ALSO VOTE IN NOVEMBER!)

Discussion of human atrocities aside, I also just liked their vibe more. Flogging Molly plays like a prototypical rock and roll group, letting the music largely speak for itself, which I think suited the laid back beachy vibe of the venue. Dropkick puts on a heavier show, which was also fun, but way less my scene for this kind of thing.

I’m glad I went and I’ve broken another “single girl” barrier, by going by myself. More solo concerts to come, I’m sure!

The next concert (that I know of, unless something comes up) is Taylor Swift at MetLife Stadium on July 20.

So…that’ll be different than this…almost entirely.

 

What’s Been Going On and What’s Next

I have a lot going on right now. It is most of it good. The past few weeks I’ve felt strangely overwhelmed and over the past few days, I’ve felt myself finally relax and get it together.

But I’m still really busy, and it’s all in the best way. BUT, here’s some of the stuff that went on in August:

My company’s version of You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown went up. It was incredible. The whole experience reminded me why I love theater, why I take part in theater and the power that this medium has to make me friends.

That same weekend, I went to go see a Paul McCartney concert. The show was insanely special, and I have that checked off my bucket list now, “See a Beatle perform” Done.

Then I went to go see Cats, which I wrote about already. But again with the reaffirming of theater as a part of the soup that is stuff I love.

Then my brother moved to South Carolina. I’m thrilled for him, this is something that he’s wanted for a very long time, but it’s also something that kicked me in the gut emotionally and made me realize that I’m stuck in a bit of a holding pattern…that I just don’t have time to break right now.

After Cats, came Kenny Chesney and Miranda Lambert, which really reminded me what I love about so many things. Everyone I saw this concert with was family, and I am SO lucky to have the family that I do. A family that’s willing to laugh and sing and dance and drink and who get along. But I also got to watch Miranda Lambert just, kick ass and take names. I’m working through a piece now about women in country music and anger.

THEN I was down the shore, which is always someone of my favorite days. THEN Juli and Dom got married. And now I’m back at work.

Coming up in the next few weeks?

Tomorrow I fly out to Austin for the weekend. The weekend after that I’m going to a cosplay party in the city with Aless, and then to Renn Faire, and then to see a live taping of the Gilmore Guys podcast with Crystan. The weekend after that I’m driving down to see Chrissy and Glen’s house for the first time and then we’re going the Pennsylvania Renn Faire (with a big old group of people including newlywed Juli!)

Then I finally have a break. This is all GREAT stuff. I’m really excited about all of it, but it’s also, a bit on the overwhelming side. But we’re gonna get there.

Crush Alert: Jake Clemons

Jake Clemons

So on Wednesday night I went to see Bruce Springsteen and The E Street band for the, like tenth time, I think? I’ve seen The Boss a lot, my family goes every time he’s in the area. It’s one of our favorite things that we do. (Besides the Shore, it might be our favorite thing.)

And this year was no different. Well, actually it was a little different, because I realized that I have a big old honking crush on Jake Clemons.

If you’re not familiar with Jake, allow me to enlighten you. Jake is the nephew of original E Street member (and heart of the band really) Clarence Clemons. He took over when Clarence passed away.

This was a very difficult time for The E Street Nation. But over the past four years, we’ve grown very fond of Jake. And then on Wednesday night, I realized that I love him a little bit.

It’s at least partially because I’ve never seen Jake as engaged in the show as he was in this particular one. There are a couple of theories on this. There’s that he’s now been touring with the band for four years. There’s the fact that The River has a lot of really interesting sax work. There’s the fact that he wasn’t leading a whole horn section.

But whatever it was, it was working, is my point and I was very much enjoying myself.

So, I thought you all should know, that I have a huge crush on this man now.

Who my brother has christened “Little Man.”

I’m OK with this nickname but also, like, seriously. I love him.

(Also I realize I’ve been a little on the celeb boy crazy side lately. I think I need to go on a date.)

When The Clock Reads 21:13

When you’re into a fandom, there are often things that you can point to and say, “That! That’s the thing that best explains this thing.” I experienced one of those moments on Thursday night as I stood sweaty and beaten from a mosh pit at Coheed & Cambria’s In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth 3 Neverender concert.

Things had slowed down, the lights had gone down and come back up and Claudio came out and said, “Mr. Light Bright, can I get the numbers please?” And the lit screens behind him lit up with the number “2113” and he started playing “21:13.”

Of course, we all went nuts! Crazy, all over the place nuts.

So this week, I’m exploring my “gateways,” the things that before I identified as a full on fangirl and nerd got me thinking, “there’s something to this,” things that lead me down paths and rabbit holes that have gotten me to where I am now.

I started listening to Coheed & Cambria when I was 15. I’ve never looked like the kind of person that would be into their music and often got very defensive. Showing up at an emo and punk show in a polo dress always kind of got me some weird looks. And I certainly didn’t do it on purpose to be an asshole. I mean, what kind of a teenager would do that?

But the first comic book I ever read was Amory Wars #1, my friend Aley had bought it and we were both reading it. It sparked something in me. It was so weird and cool and interesting. I should note that I didn’t keep reading though. I can’t even begin to explain how insecure I was about my nerdy stuff in high school. I was terrified that someone would find out and I don’t know what I thought would happen, exactly.

This was years before Batman Begins and my friends were only interested in X-Men in so far as one of our Broadway Idols Hugh Jackman was involved.

But Coheed was different. Before The Amory Wars came out, all any of us could do was guess what the hell the story of this album was, based on the songs themselves. And while the music is great context for the story, it doesn’t exactly fill you in on what’s actually going on.

We totally got that there was child murder going on though. That was always pretty obvious.

But it wasn’t until I started going to live shows my senior year of high school that I started to understand how fandom works. See, theatre fandom is a weird little niche. It has some internet and real world cross over, but for the most part you share it just with your friends that you do theater with. But waiting on line to go to a Coheed show you talk about which shows you’ve seen, favorite songs, what you think is next for the story.

Coheed is special to me for a lot of reasons, but mainly because it was one of my first fandoms and because it continues to be a really meaningful bond with my siblings and Joe. And I always have fun at these shows, which is why I keep going.

So how does this link the moment I described before?

Aside from the fact that Coheed fans are some of the most awesome people in the entire world, it’s a really, really, fun positive group of people who’ve all grown up together. We were teenagers when this music started, and now we’re in our twenties. We all remember when the “A Favor House Atlantic” video was actually on MTV2 on a regular basis. But I had a moment on Thursday, where I looked around and thought, “Who are all these grown ups at the Coheed show?” Then I realized, we’re the grown ups at the Coheed show. We’re not drinking warm plastic bottle vodka in the bathroom anymore, we’re ordering beers in the back. We’re still moshing and crowd surfing. (Not me personally, I mosh a little, but I’d have a nervous breakdown if I tried to crowd surf.) And a lot fewer people are being thrown out.

But these fans aren’t just awesome, they feed in a big way off of Claudio’s silliness and positivity. The music itself is pretty angry and violent, but Claudio radiates joy and light from his side of things and the crowd absorbs it.

And that’s a pretty cool thing.

Man Your Battle Stations: One Crazy Night With The Best Fans On The Fence

Hello Apollo…where shall I begin?

At around 2:45 PM, Saturday, Mary, Joe and I hopped in to my mom’s GMC Acadia, with Mary at wheel. We drove for somehwere between two and a half and three hours, and arrived at The Showboat Atlantic City Hotel and Casino. We checked in to our hotel room, I changed clothes (a gesture later deemed almost completely futile), had a glass of wine and we walked across the casino floor to the House of Blues music hall and stood in line.

We were in line for Coheed and Cambria, who, as I’ve said several times, are my favorite band. My sister and Joe give Coheed an enormous amount of credit for their relationship. Their love of the band was one of the things that they bonded over when they first met when they were 18. It’s immensely adorable to watch them get geared up for a show.

Actually, it’s just immensely adorable to watch them…

This show was extra special for all of us, because the opener for the show was The Dear Hunter, another one of Mary’s favorite bands.

Well, they were the second opener. The doors opened at 8 and we made out way to the pit. The first opener, a band called 3 quickly won over the crowd when they went on at 8:45. By 10:30, when Dear Hunter finished, we were all psyched for everything to start, Mike had joined us, and I had had two Miller Lites and peed three times. Then the show started.

There’s an old Irish saying, sometimes attributed to William Butler Yeats, “There are no strangers here, only friends we haven’t met yet.” I feel that way at most concerts but it comes through even more with cultish bands like Coheed. Coheed fans are so deeply passionate about this music. We pushed and pulled in the pit and after three songs I was soaked through with sweat and completely out of breath. However, 3 songs in the pit is a personal best for me, and moshing has never been something that I loved anyway. (Moshing is made much more pleasant by the presence of my six foot five ex defensive lineman brother making sure that no one roughs me up too bad.) I was determined to break out of my comfort zone on this one though and I did just that.

Mike made it a few more songs, but in the end he and I wound up hanging out by the bar, dancing, singing along and me drinking more Miller Lite. (He’d been in the casino, so already had a decent buzz going.) We made friends, danced with them, sang along with them, and we all walked out at 12:30 AM this morning, saying it was the best Coheed show we’d ever been to.

This isn’t a small claim to make. I’ve been to 4 Coheed shows, this was Mary’s eighth, Joe’s seventh, and Mike’s fifth or sixth. Mike also saw them open for Brand New when they were just starting out.

Mike has a lot of emo kid street cred for a preppy jock.

Mary was even at the legendary 10th Anniversary Neverender show. We’ve seen line up changes, (the departure of epic drummer Chris Pennie, now replaced with the lower key but extremely talented Josh Eppard. And last time Joe, Mary and I saw them bassist Mic Todd had just been arrested for armed robbery. He’s not in the band anymore.) We’ve loved all of those shows, but this one was simply impossible to explain. The energy of the room was unstoppable, Claudio was in rare form. I love seeing people enjoy what they’re doing, particularly when what they’re doing is something immensely cool, like playing in a rock band or being a professional athlete. And  last night, Claudio was having fun. He was wailing on both his guitar and vocally, telling goofy stories and laughing.

We spent the rest of the night, drinking gambling and laughing. We didn’t get to bed until 5:30 AM.

I love my family. I love this band. I love that when we found out this was happening it was a complete no brainer for us. This was going to happen. We were going to go. We were going to have an amazing time. And we did.

The Afterman Part 1: Ascension comes out on October 9. You’ll be hearing more about Coheed and Cambria from me in the mean time as bits and pieces leak out.

10 Days!

When I’m Out In The Street

I’m kind of in full on concert mode these days and it’s pretty great. Last night I went to see Bruce Springsteen at Met-Life Stadium.

I’ve seen Springsteen many times. This is in fact the third time this year I’ve seen The Boss live. (We go at least once every time he’s in the area.) If you haven’t seen a Springsteen concert, or you’re “not a fan,” I suggest going. You will be a fan by the time the show is over. You may even be a fan by the time the first song is over. I’ve seen this happen. (April, Madison Square Garden, my sister Mary’s boyfriend, Joe.)

This show I was down in the general admission floor with Michael, Mary, Joe, Katherine and Mike’s friend Jeff. We also ran in to a guy I hadn’t seen since middle school and we all hung out dancing, drinking, laughing and having an amazing time.

Bruce Springsteen is kind of like the Giants, in that it was just always tied up in my family history. My parents met and fell in love while he was starting to break out in the mid seventies, their early marriage, (before the 3 of us kids came in and made their lives so much brighter and more wonderful) was in the early to mid 80’s, when The River and Born in The USA ruled the world. This is music that is deep inside of me.

It was one of the stranger Springsteen concerts that I’ve ever attended. The set list was a bizarre amalgam of new songs (“Wrecking Ball” the title track of his most recent album is like the greatest explanation of how Jersey people think of themselves.) covers, and obscure album tracks.(Anytime he plays “Lost in The Flood” and “Bobby Jean,” you know you’re probably not going to hear “Thunder Road” is what I’m saying.) “Rosalita,” which is usually played last, was played around 10 PM.

I had an amazing time, I really did. It was a strange mix though.

A Heart Don’t Forget Something Like That

I’ve been listening to country music for about seven years. Longer than that if you count Shania Twain (I don’t count Shania Twain). It all started when my brother came home from college in Washington DC, talking about Tim McGraw.

“Who?”

“Tim McGraw. You know him, Reen, he’s married to Faith Hill.” I stared at him dumbfounded. But then, when he would drive me places, we would listen to Tim McGraw. And wow did I like this music.

He also looks like this. And that is appealing to 16 year old girls, for some reason.

It didn’t take long after that for some of my other friends to come out of the woodwork, talking about how much they loved country music. It was like this weird secret that none of us ever talked about, but we all had in common. It’s hard when you live in the suburbs of New York, where there’s no country music radio station (and this is pre Pandora, Spotify and even I-Pods were new and only a few of my friends had them…), and where every teenager is trying to more of a sophisticated New Yorker than anything else, to embrace this kind of music, and to find new stuff was even harder.

My friends and I used to trade mix CD’s (remember Mix CDs?) of country music with our favorite stuff on them. Mine were always loaded down with Tim and Faith, had some Toby Keith (my friend Cha and I started drinking whisky because of Toby Keith…though we hate admitting that) and the occasional Dolly Parton or Kenny Rogers track.

Then one day a friend handed me a CD that started with a song called, “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy.” I looked at the listing, Kenny Chesney? How had I not heard of this guy? So I went home, went on Limewire (remember Limewire?) and downloaded a whole bunch of Kenny Chesney. I loved how clear it was that yes, he was straight country, but he also seemed to be the clear successor to Jimmy Buffet

“No shoes, no shirt, no problem!”

I’ve been hooked ever since. I was lucky enough to go to college in a place that did have a country station, and met other people who were in to this music.

Last night I went to The Brothers of The Sun tour concert. It’s a dual tour headlined by Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney. I had an incredible time. I was with my immediate family and my cousin Billy, as well as Juli and Kate.

Also, I owe Juli and Kate and apology for not introducing them earlier. Because seriously, they should have been friends for years!