Friday, 28 November 2014

show review: saves the day play through being cool at the santa ana observatory

Two Saturdays ago I drove down to the Santa Ana Observatory with my friend Chris. I wanted to make a joke about the fact that if a boy had driven me to a Saves the Day show in high school, I would've died/instantly fallen in love with him, but I decided against it. It's funny how getting older mellows out your hormones, but also makes your understanding of the opposite sex infinitely more complex.
I like Chris because he always has deep insight into the simplest of conversations and I feel like, though he's a comedian, he fully understands how I feel in my musical life. These days my life feels more compartmentalized than ever before. I have my work life, my love life, my family life, my me life, and my creative life. Chris and I see eye to eye on more than one of our compartmentalized lives.

We talked about how now that we're older and more educated, we are more aware of the way different types of art we enjoy can reflect poorly upon us. For example, if we are interested in an artist who makes racist, sexist, or homophobic statements, it reflects poorly upon us to support that artist. Chris brought up the fact that a lot of the music he liked as a teen, he now recognizes as being offensive and it makes it hard for him to reconcile himself being a fan. I mentioned that I was recently listening to Glassjaw for the first time in years out of curiosity, to see if it held up, and I was shocked by how exclusive the lyrics are to women. It felt dirty to have liked them so much as a 17 year old girl, singing along to words like "you fat fucking whore" and "i only beat you when I'm drunk, you're only pretty when you'e crying."
I didn't even like Glassjaw. I LOVED them.

Saves the Day doesn't feel that way to me. I'd like to think that's why they were always my favorite. When Chris Conley sang about girls, it always felt equal parts contemptuous and self deprecating. I related to his lyrics.
The self doubt and melodrama? That spoke directly to me.

I told my Chris about the time I met THE Chris. I was sixteen. I had purchased tickets to a Chris Conley solo acoustic show at an arts center in Princeton, NJ. It was a benefit for a local Buddhist Center. I sang along and clapped excitedly as he played song after song I knew every word to. After the show, fans lined up to meet Chris, take a picture, give a gift, etc. At the time it felt natural, now it feels insane to me that kids lined up to shake this man's hand. To be honest, calling him a man is being generous. He must have been 22 at a time.

I trembled my way up to him, gave him a photo of myself in front of a sign that read Conley's (his namesake). I had written a heartfelt letter on the back of it to give to him. God only know what was in there. I would be mortified to read it now, 12 years later. The picture was taken in Maine. My family vacationed there every summer, the first week of August, until I went away to college. While walking around with my parents in small town Maine, I had found a shop named Conley's and asked my parents to take a picture of me in front of it. I guess I found a way to print it out while camping, wrote my letter on the back, and framed it before handing it to him in New Jersey, getting a picture, and scurrying away. I wish I still had that picture, but unfortunately it is on a long lost hard drive from my childhood PC. I do remember I was wearing a peach dress with fake pearls. The dress was from Target, size 12. The only reason I remember that is because at the time I was horrified I was that big. Now that is my goal size.

Chris and I park and walk up to the box office. I had bought a ticket already. I had it mailed to me so I could save the ticket stub to add to my STD ticket collection. Chris was on the guest list. I grabbed us a spot in line while he got situated. When he joined me I saw he was wearing an all access pass. I pointed it out and he said something along the lines of "Oh. I had a plus one." Are you fucking kidding me? Fuck a ticket stub. I needed that AAA sticker! We traded my ticket for the pass to leave for someone else.

Reggie and the Full Effect had already started when we walked in. If any of you read this blog often, you'll know I made friends with James Dewees when Upset played with The Get Up Kids in Kansas City earlier this year. We had a chance to hang and chat backstage during Say Anything. It was so nice to see him. It's always a relief when the people you looked up to as a teen are actually genuine, good people. Chris wanted to go backstage and say hi to the other Chris before their set. I showed him where all the backstage rooms at the Observatory were since I had spent some time back there at Burger a-go-go. After accidentally entering Say Anything's backstage and an empty Reggie backstage while they performed Under the Tray, we zeroed in on Saves the Day's room. At this point in the Saves the Day canon, the only band member I recognize is Chris Conley. He is sweet and hospitable and offers us all of their food and beer. I accept a beer, reluctantly decline a shot of Patron and get to know Chris's girlfriend. She's from my hometown, Toms River, is two years older than me, and knows some of my only friends from elementary school. While I'm learning all this information about a new friend, my Chris is telling THE Chris about the Buddhist benefit show. I let him know I was embarrassed by hitting him in the stomach.

I saw Saves the Day many more times than just that Buddhist benefit. Leading up to this night, I was trying to remember the last time I saw them. I think it might have been with Taking Back Sunday at the Asbury Park Convention Hall. I remember that Chris Conley's parents were there. I remember spotting Dave Soloway backstage and yelling his name to get his attention, then having nothing to say when he turned around and looked at me. I also remember that was the first time I felt like I didn't belong at the show. The crowd weren't my people. At every other Saves the Day show I had been to, I felt like I belonged. The show in Philly where some girl pulled my hair for dancing too much was the beginning of the end. The show at the Convention Hall was the nail in the coffin. The kids were dancing too aggressively to Taking Back Sunday and antagonizing the Saves the Day fans. It was clear the direction emo was headed and I knew it was almost time for me to leave it behind.

Chris and I bid Chris C. good luck and made our way downstairs. We were debating whether or not to watch from the stage, but the moment All Star Me began with the sound of a Les Paul being plugged into an amp, we rushed out front. I frantically searched for a space between heads where I could stand on my tip-toes and catch a glimpse of Chris Conley. I moved around a lot, looking for a good view when I decided on a spot somewhere in the middle.

I didn't know what to expect while watching. I guess I kinda had no expectations. I just blindly sang every word to every song. That's why I always gravitated towards music. It gave me a break from being inside my own head, yet at the same time it said exactly what was going on in my head. At one point some guy walked past me and put his hands on me and kinda squeezed me. It brought back memories of feeling disrespected at shows in high school. Like I was just something to be squeezed and prodded. Sneered at or fawned over. Not a peer. Something above or below. Maybe I was overreacting. That's something I have to ask myself any time I react. Is it too much? Is my reaction too big? Am I too big? How can I make myself smaller? Physically, verbally, emotionally.

Just then, a man about a foot taller than me and his girlfriend stepped right in front of me. So much for my view. I huffed and puffed and rolled my eyes at my Chris, never daring to speak up. After a few minutes, a kid my height standing behind me tapped him on the shoulder and without words flattened his hand to the top of his head and moved it down to the top of mine in comparison. He did this over and over until the tall guy took the hint and stepped behind me. I offered to let his girlfriend stand in front of me, but she shook her head. Instead she chose to stand with his arms wrapped around her. These couples always reminds me of the Tim and Eric GF spooner.

I thanked the stranger for speaking up and secured my view to enjoy the rest of the show. Chris and I made our ways backstage during This is Not an Exit. Saves the Day closed with Sell My Old Clothes, I'm Off To Heaven, and we sang along with strangers in the wings. I don't know what it is about this band that is so transcendent to me. They've continually brought me closer to people over the years with their words and melodies. Finding out someone loves Through Being Cool leads to an instant bond and deeper understanding of each other. Now that I'm in my late 20s, I find myself watching bands from the sides of the room, out of the action. The moment Saves the Day jumped into Through Being Cool I regretted wearing a skirt and backpack, cause I wanted to get front and center, no matter the amount of sweaty shoving I'd have to endure.

I chose to see this tour at the Observatory in Santa Ana, cause the LA venue is at the House of Blues, which, gross. I also thought "if it's really good, I'll have more opportunities to see them when they come back through LA." Needless to say I will be at the House of Blues, up front, singing every nuanced pronunciation of every god damn word to the most important record of my youth.


  1. Do you remember what songs Reggie and the Full Effect played at this show? Or at least the names of any songs that you can remember?

  2. Oh, and did they play all of their 'Under the Tray...' album, or just parts of it?