I'm about to go see a band that has long outlasted any relationship I've ever had. I'm back in my home town with my best friend and it seems like not much has changed...except everything of course.
My best friend and I are now college graduates. The last time we saw Fall Out Boy together was in 2013. We were two different people back then, but our friendship was always the same.
We created a bond that hinged on music, cynicism and a whole lot of unconditional acceptance. That's what a best friend is made of, at least in my opinion.
On this Sunny day in Cleveland we're about to get a bit nostalgic for disaster. We're going to see Fall Out Boy at Blossom Music Center in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. And it's going to be wild. Co-headlining with rap heavyweight Wiz Khalifa, who has drawn my younger sister as well, makes for a strange bill, but the only reason anyone is going is for the music.
Fall Out Boy is one of those bands that soundtracks a car crash, and nobody can look away. Their first few records changed my life. Along with Green Day they shaped a lot of my musical style as well as my person in general.
They are a community in it of themselves. Their fans have a certain quality to them that is undeniable. Fall Out Boy brings people together. Music becomes associated with all sorts of memories and people too.
We have a special bond with certain songs and bands, because they were there when nobody else was.
I introduced my best friend to them when we were both in 6th grade. It changed her forever, now she's going to work for a magazine in Cleveland reviewing concerts. Music really brings people together and it helps them define who they are.
In times of absolute uncertainty, the music always brings me back to who I am.
Whether I'm writing it myself, listening to it or indulging in the teenage nostalgia of my favorite groups, one thing is clear: it is the air that I breathe, the blood that's in my veins. That will never change.
I picked up a guitar at age 11 and never looked back. Songwriting is the one thing I know I'll never lose the knack for. As we age and our dreams become less and less reachable, we often let go of the skills that make us who we are, and opt instead for practicality.
Music will never fall as a practicality for me. It is me. It makes me who I am.
I would never be able to write honestly if it weren't for bands like Green Day and The Ramones, The Clash and the Libertines. These bands created an open channel for me to express along with.
In waning days of teenage hopelessness and feelings of isolation, these bands were my club, my friend group, my inspiration that somewhere, out in the darkness where everyday people never walk, there is greatness. There is hope. There is undeniable laughter and singing, dancing and joy.
Music for me is the hope that one day I'll get to express myself fully, on the stage, entirely at one with the world around me.
When I used to play with my band it was like I was the epicenter of my own little world, everything turning on me. It's a solo venture now, but getting back to the essence of that is what makes me, well...me.
Writing comes close to that, as an expression of the soul anyway. All the mumbo jumbo about being yourself and following your gut has to come from somewhere. I think it comes from the musicians. There's no purer form of expression for a genius than their creative craft. Whether it's writing, music or art, dance or sports; we all have that one thing (or few things) we were put on the planet to do.
We shouldn't forget that.
As we waddle around in the afterlife with our hands reaching out into dumbfounded darkness we can rest assured knowing that the music will bring us back.
No matter how much time passes, a band can still bring two best friends back together after years cities away. When I leave for New York I'll forget a lot of people and things, but I won't forget the memory of this concert and the important people I experienced it with.