Still my favorite goodbye song of all time.
It’s really, really hard for me to try and list my favorite bands. If I had a gun to my head, I would say my top 5 are (in alphabetical order, don’t you dare try to assume any sort of ranking here):
- American Football
- The Naked and Famous
- Streetlight Manifesto
- The Who
This post is going to be about The Naked and Famous (TNAF, hereafter). They recently announced that while they’re theoretically not slowing down, half the band is stepping down. They’re still committed and going to keep at it, but we’ll just have to wait and see. This hit me pretty hard - I’ve been crushing on this band since junior year of high school.
Sam W and I would listen to WFNX1 every morning, and a TNAF track would play without fail at least once or twice a week. This all about their first album Passive Me, Agressive You. Tracks like Young Blood, All of This, Punching in a Dream were definitely pointing me down the road to rocknroll and punk. It was also bizarrely electric in a way that, honestly, no one else has come anywhere near. This combination of heavy electronic with rock and roll instrumentation was the sound of high school for me.
The album’s theme was also just so, so on point. Growing up in the first round of social media, everyone was always a little unsure on what the etiquette was. It was stressful and bizarre - and that’s just the general mood. High school is tense and awful for most people. I thought I got through it pretty good, but there were still some definite low points in there. Sorry for the shortness here - I think I’m a bit uncomfortable talking about the moments where it really mattered. Bittersweetness, regret, confusion - ugh, I can’t say enough about this album. It was and still is a gold standard for me. Go listen to it.
Then comes LP2 - In Rolling Waves. A little slower, a little heavier, a little lighter, a little different. Definitely more of an emotional album, with the main single, for me at least, being I Kill Giants. A brutal track - sad, angry, regret, fear. I was going through a pretty bad break up at the time2 and man, was this song always there. In retrospect, it’s kind of tacky to say that - the song is about the loss of the singer’s mother to breast cancer. Still, the idea of loss was just so resonant with me. I would have that track on loop for hours. It also just personified the whole band to me - ripping guitar solos, looping keyboard arpeggios, crashing highs and delicate lows - you get the hint. I was lucky enough to see them at Bonnaroo in 2013 with some of my friends3, and singing along to the chorus was probably the greatest emotional release of college for me. I had no idea how much I had needed that…
Ok, fast forward 3 months ago. I’ve skipped covering LP3 - Simple Forms - great album, but nothing immediately glues itself to me like these other tracks do. I see TNAF is touring - oh damn, already sold out here in SF. No worries, we’ll just what happens. Two days before the concert, they drop the bombshell that the band is irrevocably changing. Stubhub has the tickets going for $150 each (retail $40). I’m going through an insane mental crisis right now - I started planning out trips to Portland, Boulder, LA, any city, goddamnit, I had to see them.
We’re now at the day of the show. I have a Chrome extension refresh the page every 30s, waiting to see if the prices will drop. They drop from $150/ to $125/ two hours before the show starts. Nope, still can’t justify it. 18 minutes before the show starts, the price of those tickets drop to $50/. Insta-fucking-buy. Oh I forgot to say, this whole time you had to buy two. Luckily I had a friend willing to go in with me (thanks Tyler!). We rush over, and go to one of the most beautiful concerts I’ve ever been to. It was a sit-down, relatively acoustic set at the Swedish American Hall. They played most of the A Stripped Heart album they had released just a day beforehand - acoustic covers of all their hits or personal favorites. All beautiful, but the encore was what made it worth it all.
THIS. THIS. THIS. This is what they’re all about to me. I cried a little bit - no, not the pretty movie crying where a single tear runs down your cheek and you nobly dab at it. This was ugly crying. Was I smiling? Laughing? Thinking? Regretting? Gah, too many emotions to pick from.
Goddamnit, I’m crying writing this. Thanks for everything Alisa and Thom. Can’t wait to see what comes next.