Postcards from the Pit: The Used / Taking Back Sunday / tonightalive. / Sleepwave, Best Buy Theater, 4/15/14

Because better late then never, I guess?

Or just because this show took me a while to process.

Going in, I thought it might be an era ending, the last shot at getting near a pit before my janky spine forced me out into safer, less unruly pursuits. Or at least to attend shows in venues with chairs.

I say “near” because Best Buy Theater has three tiers, two stading, one seats, and there was no way I was getting on the floor for this show. I was still debating the issue with myself when I saw there was one last spot on the granny rail, between the seats and the real (soon to be constantly heaving) pit, and I took it.

Sleepwave were up first. Led by Spencer Chamberlain, formerly of Underoath, they’re so new they don’t have a record out yet – that’s coming later this summer – but they came highly recommended by the ladies at the front who had seen several shows on the tour already.

And they were indeed very good, playing the kind of gritty, grimy metal that is majestically uncomplicated, the kind of thing that makes the urge to bang your head curl tight around your spine, lighting up the centers of the brain attuned to primal roars. It rolled over me like a wave of relief. Music like this is why I fell in love with the roar of the big machine, why once I heard the high wild call of the electric guitar I did not look back.

tonightalive. were up next. They are from Australia and very bouncy; not terrible, but I didn’t fall in love with them. Mostly I appreciated their vigor and sass.

They were followed by Taking Back Sunday. This was actually my first Taking Back Sunday show. I didn’t know any of the songs but watching Adam Lazzara swing the microphone around was oddly comforting. The overall effect was something like walking into the kitchen when you’ve spent most of a party in the back yard. Suddenly you can actually see everyone you’ve been hearing in muted bursts of sound. Conversations you’ve only heard one end of make more sense on the other side of the door.

And then, finally, The Used. They have a new record out, called Imaginary Enemy, but they played a mixture of new stuff and fairly deep cuts. About half way through I realized why I had been suffused with wistfulness for the whole night: if I was about to go out, I was going out as I came in, because it was Pretty Handsome Awkward from Lies for the Liars (2007) that drew me back in to rock and roll in the first place.

And then they played Pretty Handsome Awkward and had the crowd do what used to be called The Wall of Death but has been renamed The Wall of Love:

As the they chugged through the opening bars I felt the surge of adrenaline and joy and scouring expiation of whatever curdled hurt I have been carrying around that I always experience, listening to that song. And I realized – while I still definitely wasn’t getting in the middle of that mess on the floor – I wasn’t quite ready to be done. Not with them, or the kind of music they make, or the scene they are a part of. Not with any of it.

I’m still in.

I’m not sure if this crossroads I’m at is the end of the beginning, the beginning of the end, or just a new beginning. But I’m not getting off the road.

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