The lyrical end of an era
“Where is she?! We’re going to be late! She always does this!” My sister, Elizabeth, groaned as she threw her bag on the counter. Typical Cali, my best friend at the time, was late, and not just oh, I’ll be five minutes late, but I haven’t left my house yet, and I’m going to be an asshole about it, late.
Cali and I had been best friends for five years. I was there for it all, the breakups, the late-night adventures, the first time she got pulled over, parties, etc. There was even a time where I was at her house more than my own; we did everything together until recently. A new guy had entered her life, and abruptly, everything changed. The sudden urge for adventure started to fade only to be met with an unwanted aroma of flakiness.
There was this one night in particular that irritated me. It was a concert we had been talking about since December. She knew how much this meant to be, yet she decided to take her time.? “It wasn’t like the venue was fifty minutes away or that it meant anything to us.“ She didn’t consider that because this was an inconvenience for her. Anything that involved her leaving the house, she now shared with her boyfriend, was the end of the world. I’ve never understood the girls that dropped all their friends once they enter a serious relationship, exceptionally long-lasting ones. That was never a thought that entertained my mind. Nonetheless, the show must go on.
Just as Elizabeth was about to make another remark, a car honked, signifying that Cali decided to grace us with her presence. “It’s about time!” she scoffed. As we both rushed to the car, we acted like we weren’t just complaining and made up random small talk. The conversation flowed well as everyone was optimistic about how the night would play out.
Concerts! I thought to myself. Please make this the saving grace of the night! This had been a dream since I was nine-years-old. To say one was beside herself would be an understatement. The sudden burst of anxiety and enthusiasm; the sensation filled my stomach as if I was a kid on Christmas day opening presents. This was the first time we were seeing them live; my anticipation was through the roof. Everything about them drew me in – the energy, the lyrics, the stage presence, their charisma, you name it.
Of course, I have seen videos on YouTube and listened to their albums countless times, but this was different. This was the real deal. Soon we would be in a community of people directly connected through music. This was a place where thoughts, worries, and hardships could be forgotten, a temporary escape from reality. At last, the moment had arrived, and I was getting the opportunity to see the band I have worshiped for years.
Fast forward, and we’re arriving at the venue. We went through the usual protocols; security, tickets, merch, etc. The security worker asked our ages, not necessarily positive on the reasoning behind that, but when I said I was 19, he laughed and said, “Oh my bad, I’m sorry.” Elizabeth found this hilarious. She couldn’t control her laughter. This went on for a solid five minutes, that little bitch. The baby-face struggle was real that night. Pretending not to be annoyed by that comment, I brushed past the crowd. My current mission was finding the seats. Some preparation needed to go down before they performed, and by the development, that meant trying to chill out. However, as soon as the lights went out and the intro started playing, I knew this would be a night that would be unforgettable. The chill that I tried to tame was about to be lost.
Now, if anyone is familiar with Panic!, or Brendon Urie in general, you know he is one hell of a performer. Think a strong male vocalist with a range so enormous; he’s like a grand piano. He can hit the most profound note and match the highest pitch. My sister and I couldn’t contain ourselves. Cali just watched. She was there for Weezer; she could care less about what was happening, or so she claims. Getting her to interact during this set was like pulling teeth. This had to go beyond the point of not knowing the band. It’s been about a month and a half since I last saw her. One would think it wouldn’t be so different, yet here we were. The same jokes and humor that would have us laughing for hours fell flat. I’ve never been one for confrontation, and I’ll be damned if I had to do it here. Physically she was beside us, but mentally she was off on another planet.
On the other hand, we were opposites. We were “shook” as the kids would say, or so it seemed to the people around us. Nonetheless, I tried my best to keep a positive attitude, if not for me, for Elizabeth.
The fantastic, energetic rollercoaster was just beginning and I was in the front seat. Elizabeth and I were out here looking like a wacky, inflatable flailing tube man (the gas station thing). Arms and legs were going in multiple directions, but hey, dance like no one’s watching. We were on cloud nine. Brendon’s heavenly vocals blessed our ears like it was the holy scriptures and we were receiving a message from the Gods. He made it look so effortless, like it was second nature to him. How is it real?! I cringely thought to myself. They’re always so sharp and clean. Trying to process what was happening, I turned to Cali, curious to see her reaction. Nothing. There wasn’t a person sitting throughout the venue, everyone was losing themselves in the music, screaming and dancing their lives away, yet here’s Cali looking like the world was ending.
Not everyone has the same taste, so it’s hard to listen to music that doesn’t intrigue you. However, this was different. Something was off, and I knew exactly what it was. I could feel tension, and there’s nothing worse than voltage. “Are you okay, do you need anything?” I asked in a worried manner. “Yeah, I’m fine, no worries.” She responded in an inattentive tone. Instead of prying, ignoring it seemed like the best option at the time. Without missing a beat, I was enthralled in the music once more. Elizabeth shot me a look, referring to how Cali was acting. I just shrugged and pretended it didn’t faze me, trying to act natural. No one was going to ruin this concert for me. I have waited far too long to have it ruined by dumb, petty bullshit.
However, to say it wasn’t in the back of my mind would be a lie. Have you ever seen a friendship deteriorate right in front of your eyes? There’s no control in the situation. Trying to force it just makes the situation worse. Still, I felt obligated to make the best of the night. There’s an overwhelming feeling inside myself that cares what everyone thinks and wants everyone to be happy, more or less, your typical people pleaser. Not having control of this situation crumbling in front of me was eating me alive. Yet, I made small talk and danced like it didn’t affect me. Was that my mistake? Should I have been more direct? What else was there to do?
Nevertheless, the bops continued to echo throughout the arena. A group of older women in front of us moved their bodies to the beat as they talked amongst themselves, telling each other repeatedly how impressed they were with “the singer.” A group of twenty-somethings to our right getting lost in the sweet bitterness of alcohol as the night progressed. People of different age groups and backgrounds mingling, it couldn’t get any better than this.
“You can do this!” I thought to myself. “No one suspects you’re crumbling inside, keep it up, Meg! Distraction is good for the soul.” Continuing to bust a sweat, I pulled out my phone and did the annoying concert thing: posted a snap of it or a thousand. It doesn’t matter, the point was made. A video to look back on the night was much needed.
I was imminently transported to fourth grade, listening to the track on my Walk-man. Thinking I was superior for listening to music with curses in it, while my cousin made fun of the band for their obnoxiously long titles. Again, my inner nine-year-old self would have collapsed on the ground somewhere.
The atmosphere was incredible. As we got deeper into the set, the crowd just kept getting more enthused. It was tremendous. Exchanging glances between Cali and Elizabeth, hoping to get some thoughts on the performance, again it seemed like a mixed reaction. The next track, Girls/Girls /Boys (Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die), is severely critical. In light of everything that has been happening in the world, this song’s message is something that should be taken seriously. To quote the song,”“Love is not a choice.”
Before this song, Brendon made a fantastic speech about how this deals with a personal belief of his and how today, more than ever, people can’t tell you who you are and if they do, they’re just cowards, and if they try to, they can go fuck themselves (something along those lines, this show was in 2016). There was infinite emotion behind the lyrics. I’m sure hearing that song live helped someone out that night. Elizabeth and I teared up, it was a tear-jerker. I don’t know what made me cry more, the song or the five+ year friendship crumbling before my eyes. It was a real toss-up.
A crowd of thousands never felt more intimate. Turning my head to my right, I noticed this must have got to Cali because she suddenly seemed interested, and the atmosphere around her didn’t seem as tense. However, she continued to appear off. She couldn’t let me enjoy one moment, could she? Zoning back into the show, it prevailed hard to pinpoint who was more excited, twenty-something-year-old Brendon, or the screaming teenagers. Not to mention, the backflips that occurred during the song!
The last few tracks gave off a different vibe. Some slower songs with intense and raw vocals, channeling some severe Sinatra vibes. Girls and guys throughout the area are going insane. Closing out the show, I Write Sins Not Tragedies (A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out) is without a doubt their most famous song. Memories of sitting with my siblings watching a block of music videos came rushing back. Let’s just say; I quickly became obsessed. The minute I heard the first note, I was yet again on cloud nine. I go to a lot of concerts, but I can honestly say this was one of the best.
The band finished saying their goodbyes and throwing their setlist and drum sticks out to the crowd, my mind quickly replaying the show in my mind wishing it would never end. Weezer soon followed, after 15 minutes. Knowing this was Cali’s favorite band, a significant reaction was expected. It was about half-and- half. She still seemed to be in a mood. She was even sitting down, only standing up to hear a select few, for some of their classic jams like Beverly Hills, Say It Ain’t So, and Buddy Holly. The concert died down; we decided to leave two songs early to beat traffic.
The jokes and conversations flowed, but as predicted, they felt forced. Yet, she went on about how we should all come over to her new place, and how we would love it. “It’s around the corner from you! I’ll pick you up sometime next week!” She said in the fakest of tones. For some reason, she believed we fell for the act that nothing appeared wrong. Hell, I even texted her a few days later to make an effort, with no response in return.
Glancing back, it wasn’t something that included much thought, but it should have been expected. A simple “it’s been fun, but we’re both in different parts of our lives at the moment” would have sufficed. This friendship had been strained for months, but since the tickets were bought months before, she felt inclined to attend. People outgrow each other, sadly that’s life. However, a heads up would have been excellent, so someone that genuinely wanted to be there could have come.
When I look back at this concert, the first word that pops into my head is “forced.” I waited ten years to see my favorite band, and all I can recollect is this failing friendship. To this day, I wish her nothing but the best, but my nineteen-year-old heart still aches of this day, wishing I could do it over in a new direction.