By Victoria Roxanne Hill
Multimedia Music Journalist
On Oct. 8, 2019, the fans that came to see Bad Suns at Paper Tiger were in for a rude awakening when Ultra Q and Lilly opened the concert. For those unfamiliar with the bands, the openers border on garage rock/anti-folk of the punk subgenre. This makes for an interesting pairing considering the headliner, Bad Suns, is pop punk at their most intense, which is on the opposite end of the punk spectrum. Technically, they are more of an alternative rock group, but let’s just say pop/dance punk to keep it in the punk family (for the sake of comparing the three bands).
When Ultra Q first started playing, their sound mirrored a slightly more grungy Bad Suns. During their set, however, their sound grew in its intensity. In their song, “What D’you Call It”, their backup guitarist, Enzo Malaspina, took the lead and, for lack of a better term, went nuts on stage. This was the moment the audience began to grow uneasy.
Before the second opener even set up, a girl nearby said to her friend that she couldn’t believe it was still 45 minutes until Bad Suns played. It was a tad disappointing hearing this side comment. She knowingly arrived at this concert early enough to see both openers. If you are less than ten feet from the stage, why count down the minutes when you could enjoy the moment?
The second opener, Liily, only exacerbated the audience’s uneasy feeling. The girls in their striped shirts and brightly colored beanies began to plug their ears with fingers from hands with X’s on the backs of them. When one of the guitarists was re-tuning and played the riff from “Blister In The Sun”, I let out a little yell because my mom is always talking about this song. While I was able to catch a smile from the guitarist on stage, the girl next to me was appalled.
Granted, she probably had never heard of Violent Femmes in her life, so I’ll cut her some slack for not understanding my enthusiasm during this tiny tribute. In the same moment I was cutting her slack in my mind, she proceeded barking at me, insisting that I move. Since she was just standing there unamused and plugging her ears the entire time, I told her I would be more than happy to move… in front of her. After giving me the stink eye one final time, she whipped around and left me alone for the rest of the show.
The moment Bad Suns’ lead singer, Christo Bowman, emerged from the fog backstage, the tone of the audience completely flipped. Suddenly the same fan girls plugging their ears from the “noise” of the first two bands began screaming. Faces were turning purple. Veins were popping out. Girls were screaming about Bowman’s appearance despite him being in a committed relationship for a considerable amount of time. It began to feel as though many of the fans were more interested in his looks than his music. It was interesting seeing such a tone shift from the people who seemed to hate everything they eventually morphed into.
A big theme in my life this week has been guilty pleasures. While I was getting tea with a friend of mine the day before the concert, he confessed his guilty pleasure was The Pina Colada song. One of my professors this morning told the class his guilty pleasure was the Pumpkin Spice Blizzard from Dairy Queen. I have a confession to make; a guilty pleasure of mine is headbanging and screaming to music I like. It’s a sin, I know.
I was able to indulge in this guilty pleasure this past Tuesday, but not without being harassed by someone who didn’t understand my enjoyment. Over the years I’ve realized that the guilt derived from these pleasures is often self-inflicted. We worry too much about being judged by others. Our worries stem from our tastes being too extreme, or in some cases, too mainstream.
My professor went on to say that no one should feel guilt over something that gives them pleasure. If you like something, don’t shove that feeling away because it’s not how people picture you. You have the freedom to like whatever (as long as it’s not racist, sexist, homophobic or harmful to others in any other way, obviously).
People who make fun or even go as far as being mean to someone for something they like have their own issues. So, if you’re hungry for a seasonal treat, treat yourself. If you want to play Rupert Holmes’ Escape on a loop, play it extra loud (Extra Loud – a specialty show hosted by yours truly on Tuesdays from 8-10 on KTSW). And by gosh if you get way too into music and want to lose a few brain cells, by all means, knock yourself out. Enjoy what you enjoy, as long as you’re not hurting anyone.
Featured image by Victoria Roxanne Hill.