It’s a Tuesday night. I woke up early, when it was still dark outside, to go to work. Despite leaving work early, I’m so tired I can barely think straight. The plan was to get home, shower, then get ready and hurry back out. As usual, reality strayed from the plan. I made it as far as the shower, then crashed on the couch for a nap. Followed by…a nap. Dreaming of getting married on a beach because The Wedding Island or what it’s called was running in the background. That’s gotta count for something. Then I had to hurry and it was one of those ‘slap on foundation and lipstick simultaneously while blow drying my hair using all four limbs at once in the course of twenty minutes and hurry the fuck out the door’ affairs. I think I get bonus points for managing to order a last minute Christmas gift for my mom, though.
I gotta say, though, I have some kind of built in good luck when going to concerts alone because I usually find a parking space within five minutes, not even requiring a full drive around the block. Now I’m here at everyone’s favorite venue in Cologne (not!), the Luxor, waiting impatiently for Taking Back Sunday to take the stage, or even just the support act. I’ve already had a rather cute young girl approach me with a flyer of one of the support acts, urging me on to visit their website and download a free song. My inner music snob took a look at the emo-goth-rock-pop-esque band picture and wanted to crumple it. But the girl was so adorable that I think I may just do it for her sake, even if she’ll never know. I’ve had too many people snubbing me and my favorite bands in my life. So I’m sitting here (Yes, sitting! Right behind the sound engineer dude wizard!), doing my usual crowd watching and I can’t help but feel that man, TBS has grown up, and so have their fans. There are the usual scene kids around, sure, but they’re a minority and probably here because they try to score as many gigs as they can in one year, not because they truly care about this particular band. I’ve noticed, with shock, that TBS have been around for so long now that they’re a classic, a staple in everyone’s emo-screamo-post hardcore-punk-pop-rock playlist. It’s been eleven years since I went to their first show, a day before getting my first tattoo. It was the same city, but another venue. Front row, getting covered in Adam Lazzara’s spit while trying to pretend I knew more than one line of one song. Time flies.
The first support act takes the stage, Blitzkid, from Manchester, as the singer likes to point out, even though his accent may have given it away already. I’m instantly smitten by their music, not so much the singer’s voice. For the first couple songs, I feel like it hurts my ears and even though I’ve never heard anything by this band before, I’m pretty sure his singing is off. Then, I’m not sure what happens, his voice gets smoother, fits the music more, and it becomes a really nice experiences. I reach for my phone and quickly make notes so I’ll remember to check them out later, maybe even buy an album if they’re as good on a record. They’re music sounds smooth, some obvious emo influences, a lot of melancholy mixed with inspirational ‘Let’s Get Going’ lyrics. I can see this band filling bigger venues at some point. Nice.
Now, support acts are a delicate affair. First of all, they’re support acts. They’re the only thing between you and the band that you came to see. If you’re lucky, it’s someone you know and like, or at the very least their name was announced before the show and you could check them out. (I always say I’ll do that but then I forget anyway.) For the most part, theirs is an ungrateful job because at best, the crowd will only be 50:50 in their favor. And you just never know what’s in store for you. I try to be fair, give them a chance, go along with things even if I’m not 100% impressed, unless they really, really suck (in my opinion). But even I have my limits.
So when the second support act, Marmozets, takes the stage, I am considerably less patient. It is almost nine, I am tired, I have gone through my first bottle of water, I am more than ready for Taking Back Sunday. But nope. What follows is…a new kind of torture. I don’t even know how to describe their music, I guess that alone would be fine. They even have some good riffs and their drummer is awesome. But the singer, my god, the singer! When she talks, or actually sings, you can tell her voice isn’t so bad, even quite pleasant. But she chooses to use it to screech and scream instead, reaching notes that would make bats curl up on the floor and cry. Around me, I can see that a lot of people are equally shocked so thankfully, it isn’t just me being ignorant. In the front, I see people dancing and pumping their fists, so I suppose they do have a fanbase. Good for them. I won’t be joining that crowd anytime soon, though.
9:30 comes and goes. 9:45 comes and goes, too. Then, just before 10, Taking Back Sunday finally take the stage. It is quite unceremonious, or at least it feels that way after the Marmozets have used a dramatic intro. The first thing I notice all over again is how genuine and adorable the band looks on stage. More like a bunch of laid back guys deciding to make music together. It takes about one third of a song and you’re hopelessly smitten by these guys. What’s It Feel Like to Be a Ghost? has never been one of my favorite songs but it definitely makes for a good show opener. Personally, I’ve always wanted to hear them open a show with Carpathia because the intro to that song is just killer but it may never happen because it already seems to be one of those forgotten songs that no one ever remembers when asked about that particular band.
The setlist tonight isn’t the best I’ve ever seen them play but it holds some of my personal highlights, the biggest being My Blue Heaven which is very, very far up on my list of personal favorites (and ‘sing along to in the car’ songs, too, but that is another story, one that doesn’t beg to ever be shared with the general public, or anyone who isn’t me or my car). The choice of songs is also admirably diverse, containing some from the new album, of course, some more recent singles, but also a bunch of old classics.
If I ever forget why I love this band, I’ll just have to think of tonight. Because, as Adam explains later on, they were supposed to leave the stage at some point and sit backstage for a few minutes, playing the good old ‘encore’ game with the crowd. Instead, though, they squeeze in a few crowd requests, so we get additional songs instead of a couple minutes of dead time. Apparently they’re capable of playing pretty much their entire repertoire of songs by request – to a musical idiot like me, that’s admirable! Whoever asked them to play One-Eighty By Summer is a genius, too. Request well spent, my dear! Another little highlight comes when Adam points out a girl in the crowd, apologizes profusely for ’embarrassing her’, and tells the crowd that he recognized her from Twitter and how very much he and the rest of the band appreciate her dedication as a fan. These guys are so humble, it’s adorable! Imagine having thousands of people across the globe liking what you do and messaging and tagging you on social media websites every single day. Damn, I get overwhelmed when more than two people message me at once, and these people are usually my friends! And they remember a person who isn’t technically a part of their daily life and even manage to make her feel appreciated. Or at least I hope that’s how she feels.
The show ends with their biggest hit so far, MakeDamnSure. It shouldn’t be a surprise but it is because they’ve blown that one out early on the last time I saw them. I don’t care, either way, it is a damn good song and a great highlight to finish the show with. But it’s also awesome when a band shows they’re so in love with all of their work that they don’t need to have predictable highlights on their setlist. By now, I am so head over heels with Taking Back Sunday again, they could have ended the show with my least favorite song (which I can’t even think of right now), and I’d still be walking out of there with a stupid grin on my face.
I swear, every single time I’ve seen this band, I promised myself I’d stick around and finally ask for a picture with at the very least Adam, preferably every single member of the band. And every single time something happens that prevents me from it, not even myself chickening out but really some sign of the universe being against me meeting this band. This time, it was a combination of my parking time having run out and the fact that in theory, leaving your coat in the car to save space is a good idea. The practice, though, is that you emerge from a venue, slightly sweaty, and are met with a freezing cold breeze, then hightail it back to your car, all the while hoping you won’t lose a limb or two to the cold. So yeah, no picture this time, either. Boo. No pictures from the show, either. I tried to test the waters while Blitzkid played and got a blurry result that may or may not be a band on a stage. Serves me right for always, always, always, even against better judgement, relying on my phone all over again.
So this makes it the second time I’ve seen Taking Back Sunday in 2014 and while this year was pretty shitty in general, I can’t help but feel quite blessed because of this. I hope they’ll show us some love next year, too.
(I wrote the beginning of this entry on Tuesday, on my phone, inside the venue, hence the present tense. And I kind of liked it, so I stuck to that. PS: The WordPress app is pretty decent when only writing text!)