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Loud Sounds on Shaky Ground

“I Break Guitars” by Beach Slang

I can’t think with all this noise

What’s up internet followers? In real life, I’d be polite and let you respond, but I have a good feeling that nothing will be forthcoming. Allow me to get right into the meat of it: Impostor Syndrome. The TL;DR1 is that you feel like you are a fraud who is just waiting to be discovered by someone. The clock is ticking until your bluff will be called. I’m pretty on-and-off with this, normally following kind of cycle that looks like:

  1. Feel like you are currently way over-rated in an area [AKA a fraud]
  2. Try to compensate for this by going way overboard on learning and gaining familiarity
  3. Feel confident that you are not an impostor
  4. Attempt to extend that feeling in some other area
  5. Rinse repeat

The irony of recognizing you have impostor syndrome shouldn’t really be lost on anyone. There’s probably some neat balancing game you can play here with impostor syndrome and Dunning Kruger effects (am I smart? I am smart!) but I don’t think I veer too far in the other end that often. Currently in a bit of a valley here with respect to work. They put a lot of trust into me across a wide variety of areas - yay startup life. I think I can handle most of the technical burden, but it’s everything else that starts to weight down a bit. Still love the gig (and, more importantly, think it’s really cool + going to work) but every day it’s gets clear just how much work it’s going to take to pull this off.

How do I deal with this? Well, mostly by going to a lot of rock-n-roll shows. I’ve been averaging a concert/week in the last month or so, which is pretty awesome. I’m not going to keep it up much longer (probably ends in December) but it’s been a pretty great month. The best ones of the fall, in chronological order:

Hard Girls

“The Quark” by Hard Girls

One of my favorite bands on Asian Man Records. A hard rock trio who will never make it big [unfortunately]. I put them in the same bucket as the Foo Fighters sound-wise. I got to see them for the first time in Austin a few years ago (summer 2015). They were opening for Modern Baseball and Say Anything. Definitely a case of each act being exponentially more popular - I was one of maybe 10 who even knew who they were. Got to talk to them a bit after the show, get a shirt signed, all the good stuff.

Fast forward two years later, and they’re playing a small DIY venue/art gallery near Ocean Beach. They’re headlining with some real local stuff from Berkeley (Get Married, and I forgot the other unfortunately). Maybe ~30 people were there total - no problem with anyone. Got to talk to them again after the show, they vaguely remembered me from Austin - don’t mind me as I fangirl my life away. In retrospect, maybe they were just saying that (it had been two years after all), but there’s no harm in #baylieve2-ing.


“January 10, 2014” by TWIABP

Ah yes, that band whose name I can’t say without feeling like I need to justify many, many life decisions. Luckily, nothing to justify to you, so here we go: The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die. Is the name mostly just a joke at this point? Yup. Regardless, it was my first time seeing them. They had some pretty fun openers - Mylets, a solo guitarist + loop pedal based act who did a Philip Glass cover [he killed it], and Rozwell Kid, some good old-fashioned rock-n-roll/pop-punk from Tennessee. TWIABP is some truly cool “big band” emo - lots of layers, all stacked real clean, real sad. I was worried it wouldn’t translate well to the

They played at a dope beer hall/concert venue called Cornerstone in Berkeley, CA. Great beer, but weird space allocation. It was like 2/3 to 3/4 beer hall, the rest venue. I guess they don’t plan on hosting too many events? It was my first time going out in Berkeley, so that was a neat experience. It’s a bit of pain to get to (about an hour each way) but I really like walking around there and the venues feel a bit more… like college? Stupid answer, but maybe there’s some internal PhD-feelings that are silently attracting me over there.

The Front Bottoms

“Twin Sized Mattress” by The Front Bottoms

The song I linked is some great folk-punk. The Front Bottoms don’t really play that anymore, which isn’t a problem for me. They’ve gone from true sad-boys emo on their first self-titled record to folk-punk to PitchFolk3 to… well nowadays it’s just pretty fun pop music honestly. Luckily at the concert they jump around through all the discography. I was having a pretty stressful week for this one, and needed to burn off some energy. Definitely was a little eager or aggressive in getting the pit going (even if it was really only valid for like, 5 of the 15ish songs they played). Talon of the Hawk is such a good album, what can I say? Another pair of glasses down, whatever. This blog is now sponsored by Zenni, love em.

Beach Slang

Whole blog post is set to this band. Link at the top.

James Alex, the lead singer and frontman of Beach Slang, knows me better than anyone else, including myself when I think about it. I could write page after page about the, but luckily someone else already did4:

“I don’t know why everyone isn’t in a band and [doesn’t get] drunk every night,” Alex says to his latest fans. “It’s fucking heaven, man.”

This guy is just a mental titan. His band has had a rocky history on several tracks:

  • Members (not James Alex) accused of sexual assault, nuked the band back to square one
  • Repeated instances of having their equipment stolen
  • Beach Slang is also like, his 3rd or so attempt at making this rock-n-roll thing work

Would that make literally anyone else give it up? 100% yes. Not Beach Slang though - I saw them on a Tuesday night, after their entire van had been stolen on a Sunday night. They had to play on their openers equipment, had zero merch to sell, and deal with the stress of trying to get from place to place. How did they deal with it? By loudly asking people to PUNCH THEM IN THE HEART - the new tour name. O captain, my captain…

I guess I can talk about the show a little bit. Fun openers: See Through Dresses, a Tiny Engines punk band. I hadn’t heard of them before, but they shredded on stage. Dave Hause + the Mermaids, another incarnation of New Jersey Americana rock (Bruce Springsteen but… never mind it’s actually just Bruce Springsteen). Beach Slang came out and the rest was history. Since their net discography only runs like, 45minutes, they did the covers they’re now known for: Pixies, Replacements, Jawbreaker - all great. Myself and another guy at the front were screaming for “Filthy Luck” the whole time (after covering it at school, it’s near+dear to my heart). We had to wait all the way until the encore, but we got a shout-out from James at the end - overall, worth it, would happily repeat every night.

Just make sure to wear ear plugs yo

  1. “too long; didn’t read” - upon realizing my grandmother reads this, I feel the need to translate more than normal ↩︎

  2. Believe + BayLife = baylieve… someone else deserves credit for this, but I’m going to give it TSM ↩︎

  3. Pitchfork + Folk, saw this on twitter ↩︎

  4. RIP Grantland. Bill Simmons is doing an OK job on the Ringer but Grantland was still a league of its own. ↩︎