By Lucia Ruan
Saturday night, I saw history being made in a concert.
Even though it wasn’t my first, I’m far from the most experienced concert-goer. This one was different from that Boys Like Girls concert from the 10th grade. I actually learned a lot about music from it.
How, you ask? Let me tell you a story.
Once upon a time, a sound technician at Chain Reaction in Anaheim died in a motorcycle crash; his wife has just given birth. Some of the bands that knew Christian from his job decided to put on a show to raise money to help her out. These bands included the previously-defunct-but-reuniting-just-for-this-show Taken and Takota, as well as Roy English, Limbeck, and Hellogoodbye, all bands that originated in the Orange County.
Let me tell you, I knew none of this stuff before the show. I literally just bought tickets for Hellogoodbye, because hello, Hellogoodbye. I’d never heard of the other performers and I wasn’t really interested in finding out more about them. However, when my friends and I finally made our way into the venue at 7:30 (The Glass House, for those who are curious. It’s in Pomona and it’s got some great shows coming up if you’re interested!), we saw that Forest and co weren’t performing until 10:20. Pretty disappointing…until Roy English started to sing.
Roy English, whose name is actually Brandon Wronski, performs really weirdly. He leans back basically the entire time, walking back and forth across the stage with a smug look on his face that just screams SWAGGER!!, all the while staring intensely at random people in the audience. It’s all very romantic. His songs, though, are amazing. They’re basically Hurts songs but more soulful and rock-ish, if that even makes sense.
Next, Limbeck. Two men came onto the stage with just guitars and their voices and provided an appropriately acoustic country act. When I first saw lead singer Robb McLean, I thought, “This man is some sort of Marcus Mumford look-a-like without a beard.” Sure enough, he sang some Marcus Mumford-like songs, if Mumford and Sons were more upbeat and country. Kind of a stretch. Either way, it was great.
Then, Takota came onto the stage. I was kind of nervous; I had read that they were interested in the revival of rock’n’roll, which is awesome but not exactly my cup of tea. I mean, lead singer Grant Arnow had long hair that he would whip around like crazy. However, when Grant spoke, he was just such a positive and heartfelt person that I just had to listen to his music—and I was pleasantly surprised. They sounded like Fall Out Boy (but not that new song. Not that.) and I enjoyed myself more than I expected. I saw a girl mouthing along to every single word to every single song they played and I felt out of my depth—which I will come back to at the end of this post.
Finally, there was just one more act standing between Hellogoodbye and me. I was lucky in that the acts before this one had been enjoyable, making the time pass quicker than I thought it would. Unfortunately, I knew I wasn’t going to like Taken, and I was not pleasantly surprised by their performance. They’re hardcore, which is so much not my cup of tea that it’s soda. Ray Harkins was not kind to my ears, but he was such a genial person that I didn’t really mind. In their acts, I saw unbridled emotion that created a community in a mosh pit at the front of the stage. Obviously there are people that like the same things everywhere, but this one thing that connected these audience members was so in-my-face that it was amazing to watch that sort of union.
But that didn’t mean that I wasn’t fidgeting with impatience to get an eyeful of the lovely Forest Kline. I wasn’t that familiar with their newest album, Would It Kill You?, but you all know “Here (In Your Arms),” right? If not, Hellogoodbye is synthpop and super cutesy and wonderful and you should check them out right now.
At this point of the show I was just ridiculously happy and I couldn’t get over myself even though they mostly played those new songs that I didn’t know. But! They also played 2 tracks that are going to be on their new album that hasn’t been released yet! Here, here, listen to “Swear You’re in Love” and tell me you’re not in love. I’ve literally contributed to 20 of those 50 views.
So by now you’re probably like, “Well what exactly did she learn from this experience? This was pointless. I hate her.” Yeah, yeah, whatever. NUMBER ONE! Don’t limit yourself to only listening to music you know or that your friends recommend you! Branch out a bit! Click on that one youtube link that looks interesting! Go! (Also while you’re at it respect other people’s music tastes please and thank you.) NUMBER 2! Music is a community, isn’t it? It’s something we’ve been talking about in my Asian American and Queer Zines class. Community. A group of people that connect over one thing they have in common, whether it’s just loving a band or being in the same space. In this kind of unusual concert experience, I felt connected to both the bands and the audience in a way that I didn’t during that one Boys Like Girls concert. The venue was small enough that when Hellogoodbye’s new violinist, Christian, threw himself into the crowd (the second time. The first was a disaster), basically everyone had a chance to lend a hand to his crowd surfing. Music isn’t about “good” or “bad” music at all, like so many people think it is, nowadays. It’s just the feeling of forging meaningful connections and experiences. You know what I’m talking about.