I sometimes think back to how often I made my family listen to the Do You Feel and Hello, Good Friend albums on repeat during my teen years. I was angsty, and it made for good road trip music. And over the years, I’ve been nostalgic for those albums as The Rocket Summer has continue to release ace albums that inspire human connection on several unique levels. I was so happy to head out and support Bryce Avary during The Rocket Summer’s stop in Kansas City to play The Riot Room on October 8th.
I ended the most beautiful autumn evening belting out songs I sang twelve, thirteen years ago. Songs that made me feel like I was invincible, like I had to leave Kansas City to find myself. Like Kansas City had ever been a small town in any way. And here, I found myself singing this song in the same city, the city I have chosen to reside in during my adult years, the city that has brought me so much abundance and revelations about myself. Sure, I spent my time on both coasts, but I value this city. So I might not agree with the exact sentiment of the song, but the sense of adventure it invokes is a tale as old as time.
Between crowd pleasers like “Break It Out”, “Hold On”, “Do You Feel”, “So Much Love”, “Tell Me Something Good”, and more, Avary sprinkled his newer tracks, all of which boast the same, smart writing, intense percussion, and incredible amounts of emotion. “Morning Light”, “Shatter Us”, and “Wannalife” brought out some of Avary’s most recent art, an album we have been swimming in since August. Bryce Avary’s voice is all the instrument you need. Witness that in any number of his songs, his robust vocal ability truly captivating any audience, large or small. But his is some of the most elevated lyrical writing I have ever heard, and he consistently impresses with unique and vibrant instrumentals.
Throughout the extended set — Avary stayed for a proper encore, stretching his performance past the official curfew and reveling in the way the crowd had made him feel that evening — the energy and events that inspired each specific song were so ridiculously palpable. A night like this, surrounded by an intimate crowd in a small venue in the heart of America, that’s the kind of night that lives on. His music impacted my life majorly, and I’d be a fool to think I was the only one.
Keep up with The Rocket Summer here.
There aren’t many feelings better than that of curating the perfect soundtrack. I’m not one to gloat, but I did a pretty good job of it myself at the tender age of 18. In our religion class – yes, I did the Catholic school thing – our teacher asked us to make a soundtrack to our lives, with descriptions on why we chose the songs, etc. Not a lot of people took the assignment very seriously (I had a friend asking me to draw his CD art five minutes before class started. Casual.), but I went all in.
I chose 18 songs for 18 years of life, and my explanations were memories and thoughts etched into my mind because of the songs. So I want to celebrate the launch of Imperfect Fifth with my soundtrack in full, with as many of the details (minus the photos) that I can include. So take a peek inside my 18 year old mind, and then perhaps make a playlist that reflects your world. (AND DON’T FORGET TO SUBMIT IT FOR CONSIDERATION!)
“I always said, ‘Don’t mess with the young girls at this school.'” – My geometry teacher
- Proclaimers – 500 Miles // “500 Miles” is one of the first songs I ever remember singing and dancing to in my life. (Of course, there was Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” also.) Erin and I used to dance in our living room to this song when we were really little. It is on the Benny & Joon soundtrack and it’s an amazing song. Erin and I shared this song as a favorite in common with Rosie Campbell, one of our friends since we moved to Missouri in 2nd grade.
- Spin Doctors – Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong // “Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong” is another tune that I remember listening to when I was very young. It was also my ringback tone last year and, according to my mother, it should be my anthem.
- Tracy Chapman – Fast Car // “Fast Car” is such an amazing song. Not only did I listen to it in the early 90’s, but it also became mine and Michelle Verstraete’s song the summer after freshman year. We were listening to my iPod while laying out at her pool and that is when we discovered that we both shared a passion for 90’s music. Every time I hear it, I think of her. Also, it is a song that I listen to when I am in a rut. It reminds me to strive for my dreams and that they won’t just be handed to me.
- Sugar Ray – I Just Wanna Fly // I chose this song solely in honor of the Ferguson family. Vincent was my first friend in Missouri. On the way to my first Liberty Blue Jays game with him and his family, his big brother Billy made us listen to this song. It was his favorite. It reminds me of 2nd grade and my amazing friends.
- Sisqo – The Thong Song // When I was younger, I took karate. In 5th grade, this song was on every Saturday morning on our way home from class. My dad always turned it up and rolled the windows and sunroof down. It was a joke for our family. It reminds me of my dad. Also, when people started noticing his gray hair, he told them that he dyed it silver to look like Sisqo. **This party trick still works. Sometimes.
- Hanson – Broken Angel // When I was in 8th grade, I was obsessed (again) with Hanson. This song is about someone who has the ability to fulfill their dreams but just can’t seem to get it right. I listened to this song every single night before I went to sleep from 8th grade through 10th grade. It reminds me a lot of me.
- The Starting Line – Best of Me // This song begins slow and sweet and then changes tempo. It reminds me of several events in my life, like Warped Tour ’07 with Jenny Newcomer. It also reminds me of Jenny’s boyfriend, Troy, who played this song upside down on Erin’s left-handed guitar. But, more than anything, it was my “pump up” song for every big event in cheer over the past three years. It got me through competition and losing games.
- Hawthorne Heights – Ohio is For Lovers // This song is fun to sing in public. When I started wearing black nail polish during sophomore year, people began to ask me if I was emo. I would just sing the chorus of the song to them. Hawthorne Heights was MY band of the summer after sophomore year. Also, I saw them four times in concert before my favorite member of the band died tragically this year.
- The Rocket Summer – Save // I was told this song fits my personality. It is off of The Rocket Summer’s most recent album. The song really does make a lot of sense… when people “amaze” me, I invest more emotion into my efforts. Even though things frustrate me when I take chances and they prove fruitless, I question it and then move on to something more inviting. I want my life to count.
- Spin Doctors – Two Princes // This is supposed to be on Erin’s CD. I didn’t really mean to put it on mine, but now that it is on here… this is yet another song that I listened to frequently as a child. I remember the music video/ I am pretty sure it was my first glimpse at a true grungy outfit on a guy. I think of my childhood when I listen to it.
- LFO – Summer Girls // I hated LFO when they were popular. I always fought with people saying they were poseurs of NSYNC and Backstreet Boys. They made me angry. Freshman year, I was at Jenny’s birthday party and she had a dance to this song. She made me love this song. It is just so random and completely reminds me of her. Also, Matt Loehr was in my Spanish class freshman year and sang this song for us.
- Saving Jane – Girl Next Door // This song is catchy and was fun when it was popular. It came out and I laughed because I was a cheerleader and I felt like the “girl next door” anyways (because SPX doesn’t like cheerleaders). My mom and my sister sang it to me when I made prom court.
- Imogen Heap – Goodnight and Go // This song was on the first season of The OC, my favorite tv show ever. My friend and I used to sing it sophomore year all the time.
- Aaron Carter – Saturday Night // This song reminds me of cheer tryouts sophomore year. Actually, it was the spring of freshman year. It was the last song I heard before tryouts, and it was (unfortunately) stuck in my head the entire time… and then I made varsity. So, I always think of cheer when I hear it. I put it on my camp CD this year.
- Jeff Cunningham, Danny Cunningham, Billy Q – Moonbounce (Go Dumb) // This song makes me giggle so much! Jeff has been my neighbor and one of my best friends since 7th grade. He signed to a Canadian rap label in 8th grade, but it never really went anywhere. This summer, Jeff, his brother, and our friend Billy recorded this song in Jeff’s room as a complete joke. It is actually one of the worst songs I have ever heard, but they are complete hams and I listen to it all the time. I am going to miss them next year. Also, it reminds me of the moonbounce at prom. **Sadly, this song does not exist anywhere but my iTunes library.
- The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus – False Pretense // I love this band! “The world’s got a funny way of turning ’round on you/When a friend tries to stab you right in the face/Losing faith in everything I thought I hope I know.” These lyrics truly hit home for me. No matter how much I invested into my friendships over the past three years, my true friends pulled through this summer. This song reminds me that I could not have changed what happened with my estranged friends. I listen to it sometimes when I am angry.
- The Rocket Summer – Brat Pack // This song has been my high school anthem since sophomore year. I have always wanted to get out of high school, but I love my friends and we really are like our own little Brat Pack. Shout out to my oldest friend, Allison Bacchini!
- Rod Stewart – Forever Young // This is the song that my mom chose for my segment of the 8th grade graduation video. I love this song. I will always be young at heart, even when I grow up and have a job. This song reminds me constantly to keep the childlike qualities with me.
18 songs for 18 years of life.
BRING ON THE NEXT CHAPTER.
**Photo courtesy of my friends TPing the neighbors’ house and trailing it to our house so we had to clean it up. But that’s my little brother cleaning it up.