Band Friends.

Growing up I didn’t have many friends, and the ones I had I didn’t see on a daily basis. Some I saw in dance class weekly, others I saw every month at scouts or every few months for school group meetups. When I graduated most of the people I hung out with defriended me and I was left with a bunch of Facebook albums with the photo tags removed. I spent the next few months stumbling around pretending everything was fine. It wasn’t until college that I became aware of the full potential of the internet; I quickly started following and befriending people around the world on Twitter. I learned how to get noticed and stay relevant, and that’s when I started making Band Friends.

Band Friends. Noun. “Those people with blue checks on their profiles that, for some reason, take the time learn your name and shout it across radio station basements and start sneaking up on you by merch tables. Sometimes you run into them in The City at their friends’ shows and they invite you to hang, other times you only communicate through random tweets about Next Gen and Harry Styles. You aren’t really friends, but for those few minutes when you see them every couple months it’s like they’re your best friend, and nothing really compares.”

Do you know what it’s like to follow a tour on social media, watching other fans post pictures and stories about meeting your favorite people and waiting patiently for it to be your turn, only to have the most important person on the entire tour miss your show because they decided to go to fucking Denver?

I hate Colorado.
Anyway.

I’ve been considering what to post tonight for a while now. I watched a video recently about things people do to cope with anxiety, and one of them was tending to remember specific dates of traumatic events. I’ve always had a thing for remembering anniversaries, traumatic or not, and today is a big one for me.

Band Friends. They’re not really your friend, but they sure act like it when you need one.
Band Friends. They make faces at you from the stage when they catch you freaking out over their dangerous stunts. (Please don’t go on stage with a lollipop in your mouth!)
Band Friends. Sometimes seem like the only friends you’ve got.
Band Friends. Encourage you to do stupid things, like fly across the country during midterms.
Band Friends. Let you hug them 50 times in one day because they know how much you need it.
Band Friends. Whether they know it or not are some of the most important friends you’ll ever have.

At this point most of you reading have probably realized I’m getting around to talking about Nick from Night Riots. Ew. Nick from Night Riots, that sounds so fake. To me he’s just Nick. Some random kid I know from the internet, who just so happens to be in a band that I just so happen to be a fan of. And it’s cool. We’re not really friends (we’ve had a conversation about it, don’t worry), but every once in a while we get to be friends for like ten minutes, and, to reiterate, it’s cool.

I owe Nick a lot, without him I wouldn’t have made so many new friends, I wouldn’t have won a mentorship and gotten to go to Chicago a bunch of times. I wouldn’t have experienced my first large-scale music festival and wouldn’t know what it’s like to get stuck in the middle of a movie premiere in Hollywood. I think he kinda hates me now, or maybe that’s just my anxiety talking, but it’s okay. I wouldn’t change any of the things I did in the past year, and I’m so thankful to be able to call him my band friend.

One year ago today I took the 6 a.m. bus into The City, followed by two trains from the PABT down to Bowery. I sat in line for almost 11 hours, beat a bunch of AFI fans at Cards Against Humanity and only called my mom once. (I forgot to order decaf at Starbucks and started having a panic attack around 4 p.m.) After doors I was elbowed in the stomach and shoved so far stage left I ended up standing right under his mic, and honestly I was hoping he’d kick me in the face so I’d have an excuse to leave. Long story short, he didn’t.
After talking to their poor merch guy for about 45 minutes and then glomming onto some other band friends who were there it finally came down to the moment we’d all been waiting for. And when I say we all, I mean every single person I have ever spoken to on the internet. All of them. Waiting for me to meet Nick. Do you know how much pressure that is?

He hugged me so tightly that I can still feel my face being smashed into the shoulder of his leather jacket if I think about it hard enough.

People always say don’t meet your heroes, but I say fuck that. Meet them, hug them and love them, give them a chance to love you back. You never know what opportunities you might find if you give it a shot.

“I’m so glad you’re finally here.”
“It’s okay, I’m safe now.”

Thanks for reading.

 

Throwback Thursday: Scotty McCreery @ SBEC

Last week I found myself at one of my favorite venues, SBEC, which is inside the Sands Casino in Bethlehem. The staff is honestly the best, and I’ve had phenomenal experiences each time I’ve gone to a show there. The first time I ever went to the Event Center, however, will always stick out in my mind as one of my favorites. (Side note to anyone who goes to see a band there: there’s an inside entrance, and you’re almost always guaranteed to run into zero lines on that end. I’ve gotten barricade, or close to it, at every GA show I’ve been to there because the inside doors there are pretty unknown.)

In high school there were a few years when I took the country music genre very seriously. The decision to be such a hardcore fan was definitely not due to the interests of the guys I was hanging out with at the time…or was it? Anyway, Scotty McCreery had caught my attention during his time on American Idol and I absolutely adored his live performance when I saw him in York in late 2013. A year later he was headlining at SBEC and I somehow managed to convince my friend’s parents to let her go with me.

The show was seated and we weren’t front row, but the venue is seriously so great and we still had an awesome view. During “Write My Number on Your Hand” we ran to the front of the stage and Scotty wrote a number on both of our hands, it was the cutest thing ever. It turned out to be legit, and after the show we hung out by the buses and called it to hear a recording talk about his then-current latest single. After about an hour of waiting (in the freezing November weather) he finally came down to greet us, and we got autographs and pictures. His southern accent is adorable, and it was seriously so nice of him to come and chat.

You can check out Scotty’s latest single “Five More Minutes” on iTunes and Spotify, and keep up with his summer plans by following him on Twitter @ScottyMcCreery.

Music Monday: Paramore/Harry Styles

I’ve been stumped trying to decide what to write about today. Harry Styles and Paramore both dropped new albums over the weekend, causing fans everywhere to frantically try to squeeze everything in and listen to both at once. As I’ve mentioned before it takes a while for me to come around to new music, and I was extra busy the past few days so I didn’t have much time to spare. It would be an injustice if I were to dedicate an entire piece to just one when I haven’t had the time to fully appreciate either, so I decided to just write a few words on the songs that stuck out to me on the first listen.

A lot of my friends are huge fans of Paramore; I know some of the singles but have personally never been hit by the bug. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have anything against them and I absolutely adore Hayley Williams’ sense of style and her attitude toward life, I’ve just never considered myself a fan of the group. I was urged to give the song “Fake Happy” a chance, and it is so hella relatable. The upbeat tempo gives it a fun vibe while the lyrics really dig deep. The entire album takes a raw look at subjects the band hasn’t touched on previously, and the fans I know are totally into it.

On the other side of the spectrum we have “Harry Styles.” Critics are calling it a Bowie-inspired return to classic 70’s rock ‘n’ roll, and, in 2017 terms, has fans “shook.” For me the two standouts are “Sweet Creature” and “Kiwi.” I feel a little biased toward “Sweet Creature” because it’s been out longer than the rest of the album and thus I’ve had more time to process it. Harry said in an interview last week that he “cheated” and released it for fans to hear early, and I feel a little fake claiming it as my favorite. However I’m always a sucker for ballads and the beautiful simplicity of this song makes my heart happy. “Kiwi,” on the other hand, is such a punchy tune, and it’s all I’ve seen posted about on my TL. I’m really excited to see him perform them both live in October, and I can’t wait to see what he does next.

Be sure to follow both artists on their respective social media accounts to keep up with all the latest on “After Laughter” and “Harry Styles.”

Throwback Thursday: One Direction @ HersheyPark Stadium

Welp. What else did you expect me to talk about today?

Harry Styles is finally releasing his debut album tomorrow (let’s pretend most of you haven’t already listened to leaks), and the online world has been salivating with anticipation. Everyone I know is talking about Harry, whether they were an OG fan of 1D or not. In honor of Throwback Thursday, I decided to revisit the first time I ever laid eyes on the boy IRL.

My first-ever mainstream concert (yes, it was the Jonas Brothers) was at HersheyPark Stadium, so it holds a special place in my heart. One Direction’s 2013 Take Me Home tour date at the venue was sold out, but luckily I copped a pair of extra seats a few days before the show and was able to surprise my mom with tickets. It was right before her birthday, so I guess I gained some brownie points that year.

liam

Snapped a quick pic with her fav.

We weren’t super close to the stage but it was still a great night. The standout moment of the show was definitely when one girl managed to jump across the barricade and the security pit to the catwalk. Although security grabbed her before she was able to reach any of the boys, her phone fell out of her pocket and Harry snatched it up. “Like a cat,” he said, commenting on her agile move before texting her mom that he had her phone. At least, if memory serves correctly, I think it was her mom. He and Liam had a moment together laughing about it, and of course the crowd went nuts.

niall

Couldn’t find a picture of Harry but, here’s one I took of my two personal favs.

Obviously One Direction is “on hiatus” right now, but you can check out Harry, Louis, Liam and Niall‘s respective solo projects, and cry over Harry’s split-second appearance in the “Dunkirk” movie trailer, on just about any online platform.

Music Monday: Beach Weather

I’m pretty well known for harassing my friends into listening to new bands as I find them, but I’m awful at following through and taking the time for other people’s recommendations. If you want me to listen, you gotta keep sending me links over and over till I get a chance to click onto it. That’s kind of what happened to me with Beach Weather. Some friends sent me a couple snaps with their music in the background like, “I think you’d really be into them,” and they weren’t wrong. Unfortunately with my kind of attention span it took a little prodding for me to check them out.

The band’s EP “What a Drag” was released in 2015 and I listened a few times right after, and followed them on Instagram, but I didn’t really get into the indie-rock group until late last year. When their newest release “Chit Chat” debuted in November I was all over it. The aesthetic of the EP is right up my alley, and their single “Home Movies” really fit the mood of what I was going through at the time.

I was supposed to see them live with Cruisr in November at The Foundry but the show was moved to January, and when that date rolled around it snowed so my mom put a nix on the trip. I was finally able to catch the group in action last week at TLA when they opened for The Maine and I absolutely adored them! Before their set started a stage tech placed a lit stick of incense on one of the amps, which set the vibe for the chill performance that followed. Their live sound added a grit to the music not heard on either EP, and bassist Reeve Powers brought an energy to the stage that I was not expecting. Overall it was a great evening, and I only wish there had been room for the band to play more songs.

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05/02/17

To find out more about Beach Weather check out their Twitter and Instagram pages @BeachWeather, and listen to “Chit Chat” on iTunes and Spotify. Tweet me @emmegracek and let me know what you think!

Throwback Thursday: Ed Sheeran @ Wells Fargo Arena

ICYMI, Ed Sheeran released a new album a few months ago after a year-long hiatus from public life.  And in case you’re like me and haven’t given it a listen yet, I’d suggest you hop to it! Today I finally decided to stop procrastinating and downloaded “Divide” onto my phone, and it’s obvious to me why Sheeran continues to reign as one of the most popular current recording artists. Listening to the newer songs reminded me of the craziest adventure I’ve ever been on, and it really made me homesick, if you will, for the time I got to see him perform live.

I’ve been an Ed fan for years now, ever since I heard his version of One Direction’s song “Moments,” which he also wrote. One of my favorite bands freshman year was Rixton, and I had become somewhat of a staple (aka, highly well known for embarrassing myself on their behalf daily) fan of theirs online, so when they announced their slot on the Multiply Tour I knew I had to be there. Unfortunately, they weren’t playing any of the dates reasonably close enough for me to get to, so I resided myself to being very upset and possibly hitchhiking my way to Buffalo.

Flash-forward a few weeks and right before they were set to start their leg of the tour I get a message from one of my best Rixton-fan friends. She tells me her friend won an MTV contest and needs a plus-one to go to Iowa and see the guys, and asks if I’d be interested. Obviously I jumped at the chance, and ended up making a really great friend in the process! (Hi, Tammi!) It was extra exciting because it was also my first time on a plane. We had a lot of fun exploring Des Moines; did you know they say ‘pop’ instead of ‘soda’ out in the midwest? For some reason finding that out was the highlight of the trip for me.

IMG_3451_2

Yes, I took pictures of the sign in the grocery store.

We got to peep soundcheck and hung out with the band for a while before being escorted to our seats on the first level of the arena. It wasn’t my first time seeing them in that size venue, but it still blew me away that they were opening for Ed. His set, of course, was amazing as well, and it is seriously one of the craziest things to ever happen to me. Afterward we went outside to wait for Rixton to come out and say goodbye, and at about two a.m. we realized Ed was outside signing autographs. We raced down the block to where his buses were, and there he was trading shirts with a fan and being an all-around adorable guy. We didn’t get a chance to talk at all, but I remember telling him “you’re amazing!” after I asked if he would take our picture for me.

It was such an awesome night, and I’m so thankful to have been asked to be a part of it. Hopefully I’ll have the chance to see Ed perform again because it really was incredible to get to watch him live. Be sure to check out his latest album “Divide” on Spotify and iTunes, and sign up for email updates on his website to keep up with all the latest from the British singer.

Music Monday: Bleeker

Someone asked me the other night why I was at a show that Night Riots weren’t playing. Am I really that bad that people are getting genuinely surprised when I go to see other bands? (The answer is yes, yes I really am that bad.) I have awful anxiety when it comes to branching out, and I’ll be the first to admit that I tend to get stuck in music ruts. More often than not I go to see artists I’ve already seen before. Knowing what to expect and exactly when to expect it is something that makes me feel safe at shows.

That being said, I’ve been listening to Bleeker off and on since the middle of last semester and have been waiting for them to come play here for months now. I’d been planning on catching them in Philly this weekend, but realized I could sneak in an earlier show when their set at the Chameleon Club in Lancaster was announced. It was a super last minute decision to go, but I’m so glad I decided to ‘yolo’ it.

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Chameleon Club, Lancaster, 04/29/17

The band’s latest single “Where’s Your Money” has a really fun, energetic vibe, but nothing could have prepared me for the fire they bring to the stage. Frontman Taylor Perkins kept the crowd engaged with his never-ending jokes about hockey and golf, and some insane dance moves. The rest of the group kept up the pace with a bit of intense headbanging and wicked guitar playing. Now, don’t misunderstand when I say headbanging; the alt pop/rock group isn’t a scary screamo outfit, just has a vibe that you can’t help but dance along to. I’m not sure how else to sum up the performance but with one word: wow! If you’re looking for something fresh and exciting, look no further.

You can check Bleeker out on iTunes and Spotify, and follow them on all the typical social media outlets @BleekerOfficial. Their East Coast spring tour runs through the end of May, and if you’re on the route I’d definitely recommend you make time to check out a show. (And if you’re in Philly Saturday, come out and support! Tickets are only $10, and you’ll get to watch me have yet another existential crisis at The Foundry in Fishtown.)