My new year’s resolution was to stop being sappy. Of course, like any other resolution, I am breaking it.
|Nadine & Joella|
When I was thirteen I had this very specific dream of going to a 5 Seconds of Summer show and blogging about it (it also involved the band reading it and inviting me on tour so I can write about them more a la Almost Famous, but you know, I’m trying to stay rational here). I always imagined that it would encapsulate what it felt to like a band so much you can feel your heart humming their dumb songs; so well-written even the pretentious shed a tear. I didn’t even care if my writing was going through its tumblr scream poetry phase – I believed I was capable of doing it because I loved them that much at the time.
Three years later, it took me six drafts to write the first paragraph of my ‘dream’ post, and even then, I hated every bit of it. So instead of posting writing I pulled out of my ass, I’m just going to tell you the truth.
Most of the time it’s hard to admit that 5 Seconds of Summer is still a part of my life – that’s first of the two reasons why I rarely talk about this concert. Anyone who tells you fame wouldn’t change them is a liar, and these guys were especially good at that. They come from such humble beginnings that you think they’re incapable of wronging you. Add the fact that they refused to conform to the clean-cut, well-curated image required for most chart-toppers; they seemed like the kind of people who did things solely because they love it. And oh boy do they love it – every blatantly gross second of it.
Ultimately, the things that drew me to them were the things that drove me away. Their carefree spirit became annoying recklessness; their ‘fuck you world’ attitude became degrading and insensitive. It just took one misogynistic interview to prove that they indeed became the kind of people they swore they’d never be, erasing the band millions fell in love with and replacing it with this group of kids trying really hard to impress their older counterparts. Their warm stories are now infected with arrogant undertones, and no matter how much they reprise ‘real bands save fans, real fans save bands’ to guarantee that hey, look at us, we’re still the guys on youtube you know and love!, that’s all it ever will be - a reprise, a reappearance, an echo.
I like to tell myself that I went to their show because I owed it to my younger self – that has been my excuse for doing so much stupid things lately. They had such a huge role on my formative years that even now, whenever I hear the first few notes of Unpredictable, it’s like I’m thirteen again, buying my first pair of black jeans and trying to embody the ‘band slut’ persona social media glorifies so much. Growing up, we all had that part of us that shuns authority and feels like we don’t belong anywhere; that trademark teen angst. It’s like having an adult’s eyes but a child’s mind, and we all had our own way of ‘acting out’, of garnering supremacy. For me, that was 5SOS – they sang anthems of being sick of the system and saving me from who I’m supposed to be, and being a blind follower of social constructs all my life, I felt like listening to them was my protest, me finally questioning the rules. They catered to the outcasts and served themselves in digestible packaging, and I ate it all up. They were my rebellion.
Before them, I had no idea who I was – a prodigy who exclusively listens to British pop maybe – but once they came, I was different, and I loved myself: they introduced me to so much more music I didn’t even know existed, I started wearing band shirts and skinny jeans, I started writing for leisure again (because going through your band slut emo phase also means going through your tumblr scream poetry phase), and I frequented events where I met like-minded (and like-dressed) people. It wasn’t the best version of myself, but at least I had a personality, you know? At least I fell into a category where there are people I could relate to. At least I found a home, of sorts. That has never happened to me before, and at such a fragile age, I guess I really needed that.
That’s why I don’t skip Bring Me the Horizon when they come on shuffle even though I swore I’d stop listening to them because they make me extremely sad. That’s why I never got rid of the signature red-and-black flannel even though it never fit me in the first place - because even though I’ve evolved from who I was three years ago, I still look for even the faintest relics of who I was then, since that was a part of my life where I was really happy with myself. This band was my hometown, a defining feature of my past, and letting them go is like letting that part of myself go. I know this all sounds so toxic, how I can’t seem to move past a time I obviously outgrew, but there’s this part of me that thinks, maybe if I leave them, I’d have no idea who I am again. I guess that’s what scares me the most, and right now I’m like a little kid in the dark, cowardly hiding herself in her blanket.
Going back, I don’t know if I went to their show because I owed it to my younger self, or my present self; I guess I just missed the comfort of home. I wanted one unscathed, pure moment amidst all the mess – me, them, and the entire 5sosfamily (as we so adorably called ourselves), just singing along to the songs we know all too well. Not to say goodbye, not to say I’m back, but to just be there. This is the second of the two reasons why I rarely talk about this concert: this experience is so personal I fear that if I keep retelling the stories its significance will grow thin. Standing in that arena was like making time stop – the past is blurry and the future is unclear, but I am here now and now is all that matters. It did not define my relationship with this band nor is it a part of a grander picture; it was an experience all on its own. It wasn’t the big payoff after I attentively attended fan parties just to get a glimpse of what it might feel like to actually hear them live, or the big sendoff before I box up all my mementos that remind me of them. It just is. Maybe I’ll have the guts to actually leave one day, who knows, but whatever I do, one thing’s for sure - we’ll always have March 12th.
I guess love built on a thirteen-year-old’s rebel phase is destined for doom, but as the lights turned back on and my tears began to subside, I continue to walk. Out of the pit, out of the arena, out of the city, and I will keep walking until I find moments that can even come close to this one. As their new outcast anthem goes, we are the leaders of the not-coming-back’s, but we’re alright though.