It’s Who You’re With

lauren

Image Credit: Lauren Anderson

 

Growing up, I was faced with a number of challenges that affected my mental, physical, and emotional health. Like for many young teenagers, middle school was an experience I wish I could erase from my memory. During this awkward, transitional phase of adolescence, I was constantly searching for where I belonged. By the end of my seventh grade year, I still had not found a group I felt that I fit in with, despite my heavy involvement in art, music, and dance. Little did I know, a fateful trip to find supplies for water bottle rockets in my science class would change my life forever.

I will always remember the moment I ran into my band director in the Astoria Middle School office, after being sent to find construction paper by one of my teachers that year. I had no idea that this casual encounter would end up pointing me down the path that has brought me to where I am today. At that time, music wasn’t a huge part of my life. I had switched into band from choir due to my distaste towards the teacher, and decided to play flute because that is what my friends played. During that encounter, knowing my history with dance, my band director asked me if I would be interested in being a part of the high school marching band’s color guard, which I excitingly said yes to. I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into, but to this day, it was the greatest thing I ever agreed to.

You could feel the magic and energy in the air as we loaded the truck after our final rehearsal. From that point on, it was as if the next three hours flashed before my eyes. Before I could blink, I was on the field playing my final show with the group that shaped my entire life. During the closing of our show, I glanced over to my best friend as our eyes filled with tears, realizing it was actually all over. We exited the field and circled up for the traditional senior speeches. Parents came to hug me as tears streamed down my face. After each of the other seniors had spoken, it was finally my turn. I had been dreaming of and dreading this moment for years, and now it was time for my final words to the group.

“Long live all the magic we made on that field tonight,” I remember saying to the group, quoting a Taylor Swift song. I waited for a smirk from my best friend, acknowledging she had noticed the reference before continuing. “After a performance like that, I don’t care what the numbers say. None of it matters. What’s important is the love, and I love all of you so much. Thank you for an amazing final run.”

Shivering in the twenty-three degree temperature, we eagerly awaited the announcement of scores. We did win that night, in our hearts and in the eyes of the judges, who placed us first in Open Class (all bands with more than one hundred members – we had twenty-nine), in addition to five caption awards. As great as it felt taking home those trophies, what felt better was realizing that together, we did something that had not been done in previous years. The band that took the field that night wasn’t just a band; it was a family. Shiny silver trophies now sit in the band room of Astoria High School, but only the members who experienced that evening can speak for the true accomplishments of that season. Even with the challenges we faced and the number of adversities, we still managed to defy the odds of being crowned champions that night. This accomplishment created a platform for the future of this group to grow on, as well as serve as a driving force of my personal music career.

“You don’t have to be big to win,” the judge announced, calling out our score. We already knew that, because all you need to win is love.

Moving on into college, I was unable to forget this night. However much my visions for my future changed, I could always remember what it felt like to love music, and to love the people who I could make music with. Over time, those friendships faded and I found a new family to fall into. As time moves forward and graduation creeps closer, I find myself feeling similarly to the way I did at my last marching band show; happy, sad, excited, scared. Fearful and curious of the future in front of me, and thankful for the memories I’ve made along the way. While the future is intimidating and unknown, I know now that our dreams our inevitable, and while our successes and failures may change us, it is the people around us who move us forward.

 

By: Lauren Anderson

Music Makes Identity

Image Credit: Melissa Hood

Image Credit: Melissa Hood

In junior high, I never really felt like I fit in anywhere. I would listen to music, wear clothes, do things because my friends were doing them. My friend liked Britney Spears? I listened to Britney Spears. My friends watch Invader Zim? I started to watch Invader Zim. I felt like I was different but not genuine. I couldn’t find my place, wherever that was.

For Christmas, my sophomore year of high school, my dad bought me a bass guitar. It came in pieces, a kit to build yourself. He put it together for me just the way I wanted it; covered in purple glitter, with roses engraved in the pickup frame. My sister already owned a guitar, and we started to play together, slowly creating dreams of finding a drummer and starting a band.

As well as playing music myself, I also started to listen to music a lot more. I fell in love with a lot of bands that weren’t the ones my friends listened to; Fall Out Boy, Green Day, My Chemical Romance, Brand New, Muse, among others. I didn’t know any other person in school, other than my sister, who had the same taste in music in me. There was absolutely no one else who had the same passion for music.

I also started going to a lot more concerts. I had seen Rush and Jethro Tull live with my dad multiple times already by the time I was halfway through high school; my dad is a huge fan of these bands, so naturally, his daughters fell in love with them as well, more than willing to go to concerts with him. Throughout high school, I added more concerts to the list: R5, You Me At Six, Seether, Fall Out Boy, and Warped Tour.

Warped Tour, started in 1995 by Kevin Lyman, is a music festival that travels around the United States. Among the most famous bands that got their start at Warped include Blink-182, My Chemical Romance, Fall Out Boy, and even Katy Perry. Although many might think that Warped Tour reached its peak in the early 2000s, it continues to be an anticipated event by alternative music fans every year, including me.

The first time I went to Warped Tour was in 2014. Our mother took my sister, our friend Kyle, and I up to Portland to attend. I was immediately staggered by what awaited me. Before the concerts even started, as we were standing out in line, I saw people with their hair spiked up in mohawks and dyed all sorts of colors. Tattoos. Piercings. Crazy makeup. Pop punk fans in tie-dye, metal-heads with dreads, punks and spikes. Normal looking kids in flannel. So many band t-shirts. I wore a My Chemical Romance tank top, shorts, black tights, and converse, and I had a few streaks of purple dye in my hair. There were so many other people there, mostly young, but definitely spanning all age groups.  It was all something I’d never experienced before; I was ecstatic.

The entire day, I ran around the parking lot of the expo center, seeing as many bands as I could, buying CDs, meeting musicians. Most bands who tour during Warped are still fairly unknown, so it’s not uncommon to approach their booth and find them sitting there, selling their own merch and having conversations with their fans.

I met people, and I met bands, who were very nice, and shared interests with me, and even though I’ll never meet any of them again, the interactions still mean a lot to me. I learned that there are people out there who aren’t all like the kids I had been going to school with all of my life. That there were actually many other people who love music and bands as much as I did.

My second Warped Tour, I met a newer band known as False Puppet, who I had known about when they only had a few recorded songs up on YouTube. I was actually one of the fans who helped vote them in as an up-and-coming band to be able to play Warped. I met with them, talked with them about tattoos and music, and bought a button for my jacket and had them sign the sleeve. The next year, 2016 Warped Tour, the drummer for that band was now drumming for a band called The Heirs. I met him again, and he was absolutely thrilled to see my False Puppet button and the autograph from the previous year. It felt amazing to be recognized by a musician, a musician in a band who was getting to play shows on a tour that meant so much to so many fans of music.

I think about my band, the fact that we have one song, and only one song, home recorded. We haven’t played our own show. Yet. But we all love music, and we all love playing it. I know I’m not going to stop. All the other bands out there, the ones that play Warped Tour, like False Puppet, and even the ones that play arenas, like Rush; they all started with only one song. They all started by listening to the bands that their parents listened to, playing in their houses, finding where they belong in the world by using music. Going to concerts and watching bands play, until they became the bands on the stage.

 

By: Melissa Hood