I sit in a plush red fold out chair, surrounded by “Edgy Teens.” (Malia, one of my best friends in the world and sitting on my left, coined them as such upon getting in line outside the venue.) They all wear Doc Martins, have artistic tattoos, and are all nearly as elated to be here as I am.
Not gonna lie, I’ve had to stop myself from dreaming about this day for a long time. Thinking about the set list, lights, set up, ensemble, or where I’d be sitting never made the day come faster, so I’d mentally slap myself whenever I began to day dream. But now I don’t have to. I get to down an overpriced water bottle, watch the two openers, and try not to let my anxiety slap the people next to me too hard.
It was three years ago when I first began to listen to their music. I’d heard a couple of their most famous songs on movies or in trailers, and I knew their name, but I never ventured to listen to them past what would randomly play on the radio. When I first started listening to them, I only had YouTube to find them, and I was desperately trying to draw my anxiety away. One of the earliest memories I have of being a fan of theirs was when I took a sick day from school (I was in fact sick, but I was also in fact having some pretty heavy anxiety attacks). I put on my headphones while my mom was at work and blasted “UGH” while I smudged some oil pastels around a canvas. I sat at my desk, that same song in my ears, until my mom came home and told me to get up and go eat dinner.
A couple months later, I was admitted into a three week music theatre summer intensive at—what was at the time—a perspective college of mine. I was a rising senior, and didn’t realize I’d be spending three weeks terribly singing Urinetown and trying not to get yelled at by a grumpy, old, going-blind instructor. I didn’t realize this experience would turn me off of finding a college level Music Theatre program in general. I also didn’t realize that I would spend the three weeks trying to convince everyone around me that I was okay.
But, before any of these realizations occurred, as I was sitting in the airport, I finally got up the courage to ask my mother if I could buy this band’s first album on iTunes—the only friend I knew I could take to Oklahoma with me. It did actually take a lot of courage because if my mom had known I was listening (and jamming out) to that many expletives, I think she might’ve had a conniption. Thankfully, she said yes, and I spent the first week and a half listening to this album and only this album. After that first week and a half, courage didn’t matter because I couldn’t care less what my mom thought of my musical choices, and I asked to buy their second (and what was their most recent) album. The last week and a half was spent listening to that and that alone.
It was the first time I ever had a taste of depression. I didn’t know what was going on, and I didn’t want to tell anybody, especially since I couldn’t put what I was feeling into words. On top of this feeling (so sudden and new), I was still in the ever-present company of my overwhelming anxiety, and let me tell you, my friend, anxiety and depression are not a fun couple. I was planning on swallowing my feelings until I got home and would promptly demand my mother get me an appointment with my childhood therapist. But, with a single incoming call, a friend saw—or rather, heard—right through me and was there for me as much as she could be. One of my roommates also realized something was up, and was kind enough to talk to me when time permitted.
But the hideously beautiful thing about depression is that it makes you feel alone even when you’re far from it, and it makes you feel so dead inside you begin to wonder if and why you’re still alive.
The only thing that made me feel better was listening to The 1975. Oftentimes it was accompanied by a terrible drawing in my sketchpad, but regardless of where I was, I knew I could always put in my headphones and listen to songs about sex, drugs, and rock ’n roll rather than songs about pee. (I’m talking about Urinetown. I don’t actually listen to songs about pee on a regular basis.)
I would spend the next few years crying myself to sleep (when I could sleep) to their music, learning every line they had written, and bashing myself for not being able to write music like theirs. I’m still, unfortunately, doing all of these things. I am under the influence that these musicians—particularly Matty Healy—are musical geniuses. When their first single of the newest album was dropped, I sat with my hands over my ears in my senior year French class, my newly downloaded Radio One app blasting in my headphones so I could hear the pre-“Give Yourself a Try” interview. I rocked back and fourth for the whole forty-ish minutes, trying my best not to look as though I’d gone mad.
So now, as the lights dim and a scream rises in my throat, I can’t help but let the tears run down my face and be grateful that
Rock and roll is dead.
God bless the 1975.