focus your audio: understanding in a car crash

In M|H’s weekend feature, focus your audio*, I’ll be looking at some of my favorite songs. Some I haven’t listened to in years, some I keep in regular rotation, but all having in some way informed my life, my taste, and and how I view music.

Thursday – Understanding in a Car Crash

The second concert I ever drove myself to was Saves the Day at the Crocodile Rock Cafe in Allentown, Pennsylvania. The show was on November 20th, 2001, the day after my 18th birthday. This was significant because it would be the first show I didn’t have to worry about leaving early to be off the road by 11 PM – Pennsylvania had what was colloquially referred to as the ‘Cinderella license’ and anyone between 16 and 18 couldn’t drive after that not-so-magic hour.

After falling down the punk and emo rabbit hole by reading lyrics by Dashboard Confessional and Saves the Day in a friend’s AIM profile, Saves the Day had quickly become one of my favorite bands. I looked forward to the show for months and had such a singular focus in seeing them that I didn’t bother to check out the opener ahead of time, some band called Thursday. While waiting in line for the show, freezing in my hoodie in the November air, word made it through the line that Thursday had cancelled. Several dudes in black t-shirts got out of line and went home upon hearing the news, and the club responded by pushing back the door time and leaving us to freeze outside. Someone started a fire in a dumpster for warmth/in protest, and I recall the bouncers flipping out because if the fire marshall came they’d be shut down – in those days CrocRock was notorious for over-selling shows and breaking the fire code by stuffing itself to the gills with tiny, teen-aged bodies. The fire was extinguished and the show went on and I was happy because I got to see Saves the Day.

Not too long after the show I came home from school one day to turn on the TV to MTV2. The video that was on looked like it’d been filmed on someone’s camcorder and featured quite a bit of screaming. I watched, rapt, getting my first taste of screamo that didn’t drive me up the wall. I anxiously awaited the song info to appear at the end of the video, and when Thursday appeared on the top line my heart sank. This was the band that cancelled? I missed seeing this? I then understood why so many people had dropped out of line. Thursday sounded nothing like Saves the Day. But they were damn good. They showed me that screaming didn’t have to equal noisy racket and opened me up to a lot of bands I probably would have ignored after the lackluster bands I’d encountered prior to hearing Thursday’s shouts.

A couple years later my roommate Cara and I would have a deep obsession with the band’s third release, War All the Time, but that’s another story for another day.

*This feature was formerly called songbook, but we’ve always felt terrible about ripping off Nick Hornby and finally stumbled across a phrase that better encapsulated our idea.