I should’ve done this post yesterday, but after an eventful day in the city and a visit from my uncle who recently moved to Florida I was quite exhausted at the end of the day. Needless to say, I’m making up for it now.
What’s On Your Mind? – Write the post that was on your mind when you first started a blog OR draft a post you’ve been holding back.
Well, I think I already wrote the former as I broke down my crisis in Post-Grad Psychotherapy. I started blogging a month after graduation and really just needed a place to spill my guts, a place that didn’t have to stay secret in my notebook so people could read and connect with my words. Since then I’ve written about other things, but I still keep a keen eye observing everything and everyone around me, trying to figure out how to live in the world, how to get started, how to make my mark.
I wouldn’t say I’ve been “holding back” a post, but I would like to recount and reflect on my first Saves The Day concert. It’s a story I don’t think I’ve fully told before.
My first Saves The Day concert was Friday, October 24th, 2008 at Highline Ballroom in New York. I had just turned 18-years-old 20 days before and I was not a constant show-goer so this was a big deal for me. I would even go as far as to say it was probably my first concert in New York. (If any friends wish to correct me, please do!)
I had really gotten into Saves The Day about a year prior. It was probably around the peak of Frostwire, Limewire, Mediafire, and all other means of illegal downloading. I had a method every time I was searching for new music and back then I did it all the time. My iPod couldn’t even hold all the songs I had in my iTunes, and I eventally had so many songs I went as far as deleting applications off my computer so I could hold on to them all because I was always on the brink of running out of memory. But anyway, my method went a little like this: If I knew the name of a band but wasn’t familiar with their music, or if a festival’s lineup was announced regardless whether I was going to it or not I would go through the list, rack my brains for that name I had heard, and download everything I could find. (For the record, I don’t do this anymore. I stream now. Downloaded music is a thing in the past to me.) Saves The Day was one of these bands, but I discovered 100s of new bands this way and ended up seeing quite a few of them in concert, which led me to buying merch, tickets, and music legally. (The upsides to illegal downloading IMO, the record companies just don’t seem to see it that way. I may blog about this conundrum in the future.)
After downloading these songs, I’d put my iPod on shuffle and wait for one to grab me. (This method worked really great, by the way.) In 2007, I had downloaded a bunch of Saves The Day songs and was listening to my iPod on shuffle when suddenly one of them did grab me. That song was “Anywhere With You“. Little did I know that song was the first track off Saves’ arguably most controversial album, ‘In Reverie‘; Compared to their last three albums IR was awash with a kind of dream-pop feel, chord complexities, multi-part harmonies, and exquisite melody lines previously unheard in their punk/pop-punk/emo releases. Frontman Chris Conley’s voice had changed and his songwriting had reached a new level entirely – and it was the most beautiful thing I had ever heard. From that one song I became ravenous, searching for their albums, making sure no audio file went unturned so I could complete my collection. I became aware of my friends who were listening to them, and I asked a million questions about their fluctuating lineup, voice changes, and their discography in general. Who was this band? When were they touring? Where could I find their guitar tabs so I can play their songs?
So in 2008 I found their tour schedule, begged a friend to come with me, begged my parents to go by ourselves, and embarked on my first of many Saves The Day shows. I drove us to the bus stop and we took the bus into Port Authority. We had dinner in Times Square and took a cab to Highline. I still remember the line out the door and the dark, dingy look of the buildings within the Meatpacking District. I would later learn not only was the show a part of a CMJ Showcase, but it was in fact sold out. We shuffled inside as the opening band, Moneen started to play. I remember striking up an awkward conversation with the merch guy. I think I asked him how long he’d been selling merch for or something really weird like that and proceeded to tell him I was thinking about studying the music business in college. He politely conversed with me before I put him out of his misery and bought a Saves The Day shirt and went inside. I remember feeling incredibly young and out of place in a 20-something crowd. Everyone was drinking beer in bottles and I tried to act tough, saying to my friend I’d pay someone to buy me one if I didn’t have the ACTs the next day. Oh yes, I felt like a total badass because I had be up at 8 AM the next day to take a silly standardized test and here I am in the city seeing my favorite band without a care in the world.
The crowd started to fill in as Kevin Devine took the stage. This show was a real treat because this was the first time I saw Kevin and he knocked my socks off, not knowning it was the first step in making me a fan for life. I distinctly remember him screaming his lungs out to “Brother’s Blood” and just staring transfixed at his outpouring emotion. All I remember of Saves The Day that night was a happy blur. Just being so excited and in disbelief that there they were right in front of me and Chris was singing right in front of me. Half-aware that the crowd had grown to a sea of people shouting lyrics back and forth as we swayed to the natural ebb and flow of the push and pull, typical of a Saves The Day crowd. I didn’t take any pictures or video but just watched, as I do today. I’d only been a fan for about a year and had only memorized the words to a handful of songs but my eyes were wide just taking in the lights and music. What I do specifically remember is Chris introducing a new song, which I realized later was “Daybreak“, no one knowing that song and album would not be released until about 3 years later due to frequent lineup changes. My friend and I might’ve left a little early to take our bus back. I don’t remember exactly. But it was a wonderful night that I will remember forever. I would not see them again until May 2010 at the Bamboozle Festival 2 years later, miraculously getting into meet and greet line without a pass before I saw their incredible set.
What’s so interesting about the whole ACT bit is that the score I ended up getting (24) ended up being two points shy of getting into my first choice school – Drexel University. I was refused acceptance to Drexel because of this sole reason. Ramapo College was my second choice and therefore bumped up to first to my then-dismay. I begrudgingly agreed to go to Ramapo and enroll in their Music Industry and Production programs. A year later, Saves The Day was announced as our fall concert and I somehow managed to be assigned Assistant Stage Manager with a friend of mine. (If you care to read my “fangirl” recollection written a day or two after the show, you may do so here…Don’t judge…) That night, that show, and that day went down in Roe history as I not only got some one-on-one time with the band but also got a birthday shoutout. Thinking life could not possibly get better, I later went on to be awarded a scholarship after writing about Chris Conley and how he was one of my main musical influences and why. A year later, I would play and sing “Here, There And Everywhere” with Chris in the Starland Ballroom parking lot after a show in December, the day before Christmas Eve. Two years after that, I would make a daydream come true by accompanying Chris and playing “The Way His Collar Falls” at a secret show at the Warehouse Motor Club in Middlesex, NJ bringing the B-Side song out of retirement from the usual Saves The Day setlist.
One could argue Saves The Day was the reason I got a 24 on my ACTs, the reason why I didn’t get into Drexel. But had I got in, would I be telling you the same story now? That Ramapo show was a springboard that led to so many wonderful things in my life. Saves The Day is the reason I am who I am today. Since 2008, I have seen Saves The Day 14 times and have no plans to stop. Each show is a transcendent experience that I cherish and can be equated with nothing else I know to be of this world. There is a magic that goes on in the crowd and on stage, energy and emotions always at peak levels. Saves The Day has been the soundtrack to my life for 7 years…and I couldn’t have asked for more fitting accompaniment.