The scene is this: two teenagers driving two hours from Amherst Massachusetts to Cambridge. A two hour drive all to see our favorite band at the time, Motion City Soundtrack. We were hopped up on Monster and Twizzlers, blasting all our favorite compositions that we had crammed onto an 80 minute disc. Windows were down. A riveting game of Marry, Sex, Kill was the entertainment. We go to the venue and excitedly waited in line to get in. Our hands were promptly stamped upon entering, and we didn't care. We were there to let live music intoxicate us, and we didn't need anything else.
Much to my surprise, the opening band was actually pretty good. I never really get my expectations up too high for openers, but always try to show some kind of support—sometimes all I can muster up is a polite clap after each song, but this time, I was actually really pumped. They were called The Henry Clay People, and I knew I had to have a record.
After the show, I went back to snag some merch. All the band members were hanging out back there, so I went up to let them know I really enjoyed their music. The response I got was confusing. I mean, here I was, buying a record and a CD from them and telling them I enjoyed their show and they're just staring at me, totally unimpressed. Finally, one of them asks if I'd like them to sign the record, and I shrugged and said, "sure."
While they're signing away, the lead singer asks me a question. A real random one.
"So what do you do for work?"
I didn't realize until later that this was him baiting me.
"Um, I manage a small pizza shop back at the town I live in."
And they all GROANED. It was very odd, but I still just figured it couldn't possibly be what I had just said. Another member asked if I had a record player, and I replied that it was for my boyfriend who lived out of state.
"What does he do for work?"
"He's a bank teller..."
And this is where it got really interesting. This is where four guys all got in my face and told me that we both need to start following our heart and dreams and we need to ditch our jobs and go find a real experience, that we were never going to be happy working for "The Man." They then told me my boyfriend was the worst kind of poser—buying punk records and being a bank teller. They told me he can't be both, and that we're not the kind of people their music is geared towards.
It was laughable. Because, don't get me wrong, I'm all about following your dreams. But I thought it was ironic that without a job I wouldn't be able to buy their merch to support what they dreamt of. And without a job I wouldn't have been able to put gas in the car I bought with money from my job. Come to think of it, I don't even know how the heck they made it to where they were without working for "The Man."
If I thought they would listen, I would have told them that my (now ex) boyfriend is actually pretty punk. I mean, sure, he's responsible because he's an adult, but after five, the guy slips into his plaid and docs and rocks out at shows all night. And while I wouldn't call myself punk, I also put a whole new personality on after my 40-hour work week is up. I don't really see how people yearning to be rockstars can reach their dreams without being appreciative and gracious of the fans who work hard to buy a ticket and drive out to see them.
I have had the pleasure to meet a lot of pretty cool people who have been able to make their music their job. People who are much more famous than those Henry Clay people, who disbanded in 2013. People who shake your hand and say, "Hey, thanks for coming out to see us tonight!" and mean it. I will forever be grateful to those bands who actually make me feel like I can give them back something they've given me. Because I still work really hard. And I still will fly from one coast to another just to see my favorite band. It's just, I have responsibilities, you know?
Here's to hoping The HCP found out that sometimes it's OK to concede to working hard to support what and who you love. Because even the most hardcore punks have to grow up and figure it out at some point.