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Swirling Around and Down

Punching in a Dream by The Naked And Famous. Love these guys oh so much.


This last week has been pretty awesome. I know I’ve been complaining about the burn out feeling at work recently (a few weeks with long hours will do that to you), and I’ve definitely needed a release. Luckily, the timing was pretty perfect, as I had bought tickets to Noise Pop Festival around four months ago and it was starting this week. As far as festivals go, it was pretty odd actually - really just a label to justify getting a bunch of artists in town in the same time. It was spread across venues in SF, Berkeley, Oakland, and maybe some in between spots as well. Somewhat ironically, all the bands I wanted to see ended up being at the same venue[^1]. The bands I went for were:

  • Jeff Rosenstock
  • Lemuria
  • Bully
  • Hotelier
  • Superchunk

and all of those delivered. I don’t want to write about them though, as [for the most part] they’re pretty well established. At the very least, they are in whatever small niche of a scene I enjoy. I want write about two other things that are super important to me when it comes to music.

See the Openers

This is a no-brainer, but every concert suffers from this. Doors open at 7PM, opener at 8PM, headliner at 10PM. So many people wait until 9:30PM to show up, and miss out on the majority of the music. I don’t even know what people are doing during that time - eating? driving? drinking? I learned about some super cool bands during this festival:

  • Club Night
  • ROAR
  • Love Jerks
  • Bat Fangs

Not sure how many of them are “new” to everyone else, but they were new to me. They each had some super cool new sounds that I didn’t expect, and it was great. I guess I shouldn’t complain about people not showing up, since that means I get a better view of everything. Additionally, when there are so few people, it just naturally feels for intimate. Shoutout to Love Jerks - it was their first show in SF and they killed it.

I only really learned this lesson when browsing the Pygmalion Music Festival[^2] historical showlists. Since the festival was strongly aided by a local label - Polyvinyl Records - they would always put their bands at the shows. Many times you’d be seeing new bands that really didn’t quite get national attention yet. But yet, two years later, that opener would become a headliner. I’m not one for claiming “indie cred” or anything, but it’s pretty cool to be able to follow a band’s trajectory all the way through[^3]. Sometimes you might get lucky and they’ll even remember you! I’m fortunate enough to claim this for a couple bands (namely Lemuria and Hard Girls) and it’s such an amazing feeling. Not many things can make me felt into a little fangirl, but those will do it everytime.

Get in the Pit

My taste in music isn’t too crazy. Lots of breadth for sure, but mostly emo and punk. Punk, rock and roll, whatever you call it, there’s usually a mosh pit. I’ve gone through a whole roller coaster of feelings on these, and now I am conclusively a big fan. There’s a hundred takes online about how mosh pits are full of friendly people, and I’m not going to do the world any good nor do them justice by trying to write a new one. I can talk about why I love them though - that’s fair game for sure!

I think it has a lot to do with my personality. Not to get too nerdy here, but as an electrical engineer, I’m kind of obsessed with finding out how things are made. This goes too far too often, where I’ll spend two hours wondering which engineer was in charge of putting the blinking green LED into the DVD player and why they didn’t decide to go with blue and what kind of verification and user testing did they do…. you get the point. But when you’re in a mosh pit, you don’t have time for those thoughts. There’s drums, guitar, vocals, and a whole lot of swirling bodies. Apparently that’s what it takes for me to fully disassociate with my mental kinks.

I am currently in search of anything else that will let me have this feeling, preferably with less hangover and bruised shins the next morning.

[1]: Great American Music Hall in SF. Super dope venue, would recommend! [2]: This is one of greatest things about going to school in Champaign Urbana. Can’t recommend enough - major influencer on my music tastes. [3]: I will claim this with Chance the Rapper. Saw him my sophomor year with like 30 people at a frat house and then he was like headlining Bonnaroo two years later. Gimme my cred!