Pinegrove Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Start Leaning In

Every punk kid’s nightmare is happening to me: I’m getting boring. I wake up every morning during the week and go to a job in a cubicle with the same work to do every day and I tell myself it’s not that bad. I can listen to Blacklisted at my desk. The health insurance and other benefits are great. I get free coffee. It’s not good coffee, but beggars can’t be choosers. I drink out of a thrifted mug that says “Las Vegas” on it and it reminds me of the last time I traveled somewhere new. That’s over a year ago now. I leave work and sit in the same traffic every day, recognizing the cars and bumper stickers as if they were other characters in the brief tragic comedy that is rush hour in Denver.

I sat in a tattoo shop wearing the shirt of a band I say I still listen to but “I don’t need all the aggression as much anymore.” My roommate is getting a tattoo on his ribs, it’s art from a band who put out one full-length and broke up. I start wondering if I’d ever commit to anything that much in my life. The other tattoo artist sitting around asks me what I do to decompress. “You’ve got this job that’s gonna turn you into a sniper, man. What do you even do for fun?” I say that I watch movies but that hasn’t even been true for the past few months. I deflect this conversation into a more full discussion of The VVitch from earlier this year and I realize I probably liked the aesthetic of what I watched more than the substance.

I spend a week trying to convince myself that this hasn’t happened to me and hang out with a few people that subtly help me realize that jesus christ yes dude you’re getting boring as hell. I’m sitting there on a Thursday night and I see that Toys That Kill are playing maybe two miles away. They put out my favorite album of 2012. I ask my roommate if I should go. What happened to me that I’m even asking if I should go see one of my favorite pop punk bands of all time play a set in a small bar? It’s a great show, they play as much of their new record as they seem obligated to and play a ton of songs off of Fambly 42. I get to hear “Amphetamine St.” live.

I say all of that to say this: Pinegrove has been the soundtrack for this slide into whatever funk I’ve been in. They’re a great band and they’re talented as all hell. Cardinal is this confident debut album from a young band who knows their sound better than half of the aging mall-core pop punk bands we’ve talked about on our podcast. The first time I heard them, I was on my way to buy furniture at IKEA and every time I bring that up to someone else, they think it makes perfect sense. It’s this natural and smart product that makes a lot of sense and nobody’s going to get offended by it. Hell, they might fall in love with it. I’m talking as much about Cardinal as I’m talking about the $8 Lack table that’s next to the mattress on the floor in apartments across America.

I saw Pinegrove play to a huge crowd in a tiny bar on Monday night. I paid $13 to get in. For the first time in five months, I drank a PBR at a punk show. It felt new even though it’s something I used to do nightly. I stood and talked about nü metal for all of Sports’ set (they’re a fantastic band and I regret not giving them my full attention but look, someone here has to get these Korn jokes and Chevelle takes off). Larimer Lounge was full to the gills that night. I stood to the side of the stage near a door to the bar’s back patio and it was the best spot in the house whenever a gust came in.

I watched Pinegrove play 45 minutes of softboy jams to a flock of excited kids. I thought they were kids at least until I remembered I was in a bar and these “kids” were four years younger than me at the most. I felt old. Maybe not old but I felt like I was missing out for the first time in forever. Like I was supposed to be in the thick of it but I was standing off to the side.

Sometimes we get detached on the podcast. We remove ourselves from the situation or the scene when we find someone’s actions or art indefensible, but the matter of the fact is that we wouldn’t have opinions on any of this stuff if we weren’t heavily invested. We’ve been telling people to “Lean into it” in life and we’ve been pulling back so hard to get away from the punches. I felt detached at the Pinegrove show. I felt like I was trying to separate myself from the crowd when I’m yelling along to “Aphasia” and “Cadmium” with them.

I listen to “Old Friends” off of Cardinal more than anything else on the album and I think it’s for that bridge about calling your parents and telling your friends that you love them. There’s something cool about that part that I can’t quite put my finger on. Maybe it’s just cool to hear someone sound very genuine about intending to do something and apologize for getting “too caught up in my own shit.” I relate with that sentiment all too well.

I ran into some people from home after the show, like Indianapolis/Bloomington home, not Denver “home,” and the Pinegrove show felt like a basement show in Bloomington for those fifteen minutes of conversation. I felt 20 again. I felt something about music again. I felt right. And I think it’s because I put myself back into the position to give a shit again and not care what comes of it.

We were leaving the venue and the Me First and The Gimme Gimme’s cover of R Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly” started playing. I looked at my roommate and said, “You know, I love this song and I guess I get the point of Me First, but why do they have to ruin it by playing fast?”

I’m trying to be less boring but you’re going to have to give me a little time.

Jay wrote this because he couldn’t sleep. He saw your boyfriend at the Port Authority. He made a terrible Harambe tweet from the podcast account. 
He’s on Twitter:
@listenupnerds

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