My life was forever changed on September 18th, 2008. This was the day that I heard the Texas alternative/art rock group called Blue October for the first time.
I was sitting in the front row of my creative writing class, just a tenth grader with long dirty blonde hair and glasses. It was in the morning, too, if memory serves me right. I even remember how the girl in my class introduced her favorite song, “Hate Me,” and then sat down. As I sat listening, I was awestruck by how honest, raw, and poetic the lyrics were. What spoke to me was the subject matter: depression and suicide. I’d never heard anyone talk about these subject matters this openly before. The narrative of the song flowed like water into my ears, with each pour, I was drawn to the lead singer’s distinct voice.
As a teen, I was struggling with undiagnosed depression and anxiety. I didn’t yet have the courage to admit to my parents what I was going through, nor did I believe that I was mentally sick and couldn’t just “get over this” or that I would be able to conquer what I was feeling inside on my own.
Hearing “Hate Me” for the first time solidified the notion that I wasn’t alone in my confusing ups and downs. I bought the song after school on iTunes that same day.
This began my obsession with all things Blue October. (A *huge* shout out to my mom, dad, and little-big sister for putting up with my impassioned rants over the years! You guys are the best.)
Now in my late twenties, sporting contacts and short hair, I am doing so much better. While I still have my ups and downs, I am more in control of the thoughts that pass through my head. Blue October is still going strong; I attended a concert of theirs a year ago.
It was like my birthday and Christmas all rolled into one. I laughed, cried, and sang along with Justin (the lead singer). Most of the time, though, I just lived in the moment. I just drank everything in: the lights, the smoke flooding the stage before the band started the show, and fed off of the energy in the room. I’d heard how fantastic Blue was live–before seeing them play, I’d listen to the recorded concerts or watch music videos and dream of going one day.
Seeing the group I have loved for so long several feet from me was amazing. Surreal, and yet incredible. The lighting and small venue worked in tandem to create a truly intimate atmosphere. Justin, Matt, Jeremy, Ryan, and Matt O. are all truly talented people–they easily played for two hours; I could have stood for two more hours, ignoring my stiff legs. Each member of the group worked together, like a tightened bowstring, to bring Minneapolis a strong performance.
I recognized every song, and was thrilled to hear classics like “Into the Ocean” and “Italian Radio” alongside the more recent “Home.” The crowd was packed together a little tightly, standing room only, but as I learned from seeing Metallica–we would have stood up anyway. My tall sister Abbie helped film stuff for me–I’m five feet, maybe a quarter of an inch tall. My mom, who likes their music, enjoyed the concert a lot. (She insisted that I purchase Crazy Making, and dutifully held the book the entire show. Thanks, Mom! Thanks, Abbie!)
The night got better, too. Especially after the show. Meeting Justin and Ryan in the flesh was very cool. They were signing shirts and books. Abbie had to prompt me to say something, even though I had an idea of what I’d wanted to say in mind. I simply said, “I love your music.” Justin hugged me, which was very sweet of him, and signed my book. Ryan visited with Abbie about playing violin, which I think is pretty cool.
If you’re at all interested in Blue October or their music, seriously check them out. You won’t regret it. If you’re a fan and you haven’t seen them play live, go! It’s amazing.
A shout-out to Blue October, who made my night magical.
“Home.” From “I Hope You’re Happy.” 2018.
“I Hope You’re Happy.” From the album of the same name. 2018.