Nobody has the perfect life. If you say you do, I think one of two things: that you are a liar, or that you live in an episode of “Black Mirror.” And if the latter is true, you’d better get out before something bad happens!
So yes, bad things happen and your life cannot be perfect. Things go wrong. Your friends will leave. You will miss your dogs. You will lose a person. You will go through a horrific, terrible breakup that you think you will never be able to get over.
But the best things in life are the things you find that can take you away from the bad things. They might not be able to make you forget forever, but while you are in that world, that moment, you can embrace the world around you for what it is. Some people love to draw or paint or make sculptures. I happen to have no artistic skill whatsoever, so that is clearly not for me. Some people play video games all night, despite their roommates’ wishes. I happen to have some cool roommates and a short attention span, so that’s another one on the list that has no application for me. Some people love to read. I only ever really read “Harry Potter” anymore but I’ve read it so many times it does not have the same effect on me anymore.
I am like the rest of you. Things have gone wrong in my life. Let’s just say college has not been the dreamy world that all the early 2000s teen movies made me think it would be. Making friends is hard. Doing work is hard. I have those days where I do not want to get out of bed for a class. I’m sure most of you know those feelings.
Despite this, I found what I needed: music. I’m sure most of you will agree with me when I say music is often the most commonly used coping method for the bad times. However, people use music differently based on who they are and what they need. Some people are content with just listening to music in their rooms and laying in bed. This method is not enough for me. Some people make bands with their friends and write their own music. I wish I could, but I am not creative enough to write music and not good enough at playing to justify being in a band.
So I go to concerts. I know a lot of people go to concerts, but there are so many types that it’s hard to even think they are related. Some people love to see the likes of Taylor Swift and Beyonce rocking football stadiums. Not for me. Some people like seeing Twenty One Pilots or Fall Out Boy play festivals and amphitheaters. Nope, not for me.
I like seeing small bands with passionate fans playing in basements and DIY venues. Not only are they the most personal, but they are also the best way for me to get things off my chest. You can crowd into a basement or a record store or even the batting cages (shout out to Everybody Hits on Girard Avenue) for five dollars. You can yell and scream and mosh and sing along with all your heart to bands that seem to get what you are going through, singing like they lived through your hardships too. I know this because it happened to me recently.
The last few weeks have been some of the hardest of my life. People have changed. People have come and gone. Seasonal depression has come upon me and my friends. I miss my dogs. I miss my friends from high school. Work was getting hard and I was not happy with the product I was putting out. Weekends were the worst. I wanted to stay in bed all day.
Something kept me going, however. I knew on Nov. 5 I was going to one of my favorite DIY venues in the city to see one of my favorite bands. This anticipation kept me going, kept pushing me to get through the bad times. And when the day finally came and I got to Everybody Hits, I knew it was worth it. The band in question was Mom Jeans, an emo-punk band from California that I had been listening to relentlessly lately. Their music spoke to me.
With lyrics like “I’m sad that I lost you, but I won’t chase you” and “The reason why I try so hard to be nice / Is so no one else will leave me behind,” it felt like they were living out my life too. And screaming along those lyrics with the band in real life made me forget. It helped me shove all my problems away and live in the moment. Sitting in an arena and watching a light show is entertaining, but not personal. But talking to a band after a show, telling them about what’s been going on in your life and having them hug you and say they were sorry is just the best.
House shows and DIY venues bring people together. People push and shove, trying to get ever closer to the bands they love and relate to so much. I know some people are there for the music, but that’s not for me. I’m there to forget about the bad things that happen for a while and live. My experience with Mom Jeans helped me get through some of the hardest weeks of my life and reflect. Sure, the lyrics were sad, but screaming them with 200 others while you’re six inches away from the band you love changes them from sad to hopeful and cathartic.
And sometimes, catharsis is the best medicine.