What I Learned: July 22

  • So… this happened todayVoter Registration
    Lately, I’ve been incredibly disenfranchised with the political landscape in our country. I refuse to believe that the two best candidates for the most powerful job in the United States are a liar and a lunatic. Yet, somehow, here we are, stuck voting for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump in 2016. For me, voting has always been a way to voice your opinion. But lately that doesn’t feel like it’s enough. So I’ve officially denounced my membership to the Republican party (in the state of North Carolina’s eyes anyways). Get your act together,
  • Speaking of… Paul Ryan, current US Speaker of the House, lost all of my confidence this week.

    “When you advance to a national championship, don’t you root for a Longhorn if you’re an Aggie? Start thinking that way.”

    First, you’re trying to use a (bad) college football analogy to get me to vote for Donald Trump just because he’s running for the party I normally back? Second, you’re out of your damn mind if you think I’d EVER root for South Carolina if they made the national championship game. This election sucks. Just like the University of South Carolina.

  • I saw Ghostbusters last weekend. It wasn’t great but I’m not sure it was the pile of trash the Internet is making it out to be either. It was entertaining enough to be a summer comedy. Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy have always been pretty “eh” to me. But I loved Kate McKinnon. Homegirl’s hilarious. If you don’t go into it expecting it to be the 1984 movie, you should be good to go.
  • I need to work on my confidence, in relation to external factors. I’ve always been sure of myself and my abilities. If there was a test in school or a project at work I needed to tackle, I’m your guy. I’ll outwork everyone else and put in an effort that’s better than most will give. But lately, I’ve been struggling. I like work but I’m having a hard time finding a group of people to really relate to. And I’m not confident in my ability to strike up conversation and make friends. I like the idea of building a house but I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around the decisions (counters, carpet, etc) I have to make in the next week. And that doesn’t even scratch the surface of how unsure I am about my recent breakup. But I need to do better. For my own mental health.
  • I saw Marianas Trench in Asheville Wednesday night! I saw them twice in January in Charleston and Charlotte and typed up a hefty little piece on the shows. The show was a little short (less than 90 minutes), so that was disappointing. And I was under the impression that Wildfire and Dearly Departed were going to be played and neither were, so that was even more disappointing. But I got to spend an evening in the mountains, at a new venue, in a cool city, seeing my favorite band. And I’ll never complain about that. Marianas Trench Asheville 2016

How’s the weekend looking for you? I’m heading to Raleigh tonight to see Marianas Trench again (#groupie) and going to Clemson on Saturday to meet my brother and the nephews for an annual photo shoot in Tiger Town. So I’ll be putting some miles on the truck in the Carolinas.

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What I Learned: July 15, 2016

  • Nintendo is releasing the NES Classic Edition this November with 30 games for $60. I’m making this the first bullet point, so if you only stick around for one, you don’t miss the coolest piece of news this year. It’s a baby Nintendo. With 30 AMAZING games. For $60. I’m buying this on day one. I may buy this for my brother on day one. And my nephews. And you. Because that’s how damn cool this thing is. NES Classic
  • I’ve finally gotten around to reading the Harry Potter books. I think I was outside the typical age range when they were first released, so I missed the initial phenomenon. But they’re quick, entertaining reads so far. I powered through the first one in 10 days, the second in 11, and the third in 10. The fourth’s a tad longer, so it may take me a few more days but I’m through 230 pages in 4 days so far. I even stopped along the way earlier this week to rent the first movie. It seems a little dated and I enjoyed the book much more than the movie… but I’ll give them all an honest shot. It’s hard to argue against the books being modern classics at this point, so give them a read if you’re still in the dark.
  • I hit Sesquicentennial State Park last Saturday. It’s my 5th state park this year, so I’m making a bit of progress. I needed to get out of the house, so Harper and I scooted down to Columbia to make a day hike out of it. Unfortunately, Columbia in the summer is hotter than hell itself, so we weren’t able to really explore. We did a two mile loop around their pond/lake and even that was probably too far and hot for Harper. It’d be nice to re-explore when it’s a bit cooler outside.
  • I went to see The Shallows last Friday night. Given that there aren’t hardly any actors in it (I’d argue that a seagull is the second or third most prominent character in the movie), it was a pretty decent “go zone out at the movies” flick. It doesn’t hurt that it’s 90 minutes of Blake Lively in a skin tight bikini and wet suit either. But there were some gorgeous surfing and ocean shots in the movie too. Reminded me so much of Hawaii.
  • I re-applied to volunteer at the CMPD Animal Care and Control shelter this week. It’s nice to work a job that doesn’t kill off any desire to do much outside of work again. But it’ll be nice to interact with and walk dogs again too. It’s a good way to get them out of their kennels and get both of us some exercise on the weekends. Another perk of the new job is they give us eight hours of paid volunteer time. So I will be taking advantage of that, for sure.

This week was a roller coaster, so I’m a little glad to finally see the weekend. Tonight will probably hold another movie in store. I’m thinking Ghostbusters, maybe? If it’s not too crowded. If that’s a wash, I may settle for The Secret Life of Pets. Or Central Intelligence if I get really desperate.

Hope your weekend’s great!

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What I Learned: July 8, 2016

  • I wrapping up the third week of my new job! I got a big boy job working in downtown Charlotte for Ally Bank. It’s a little overwhelming right now because it’s been a long time since I’ve been the new kid on the block, learning the day-to-day ropes. But so far, everything else has been an incredible step up. The hours are better. The stress level is better. The benefits are better. The pay is better. I miss the people in the old gig but hopefully we’ll keep in touch.
  • The last What I Learned entry boasted of a girl. That I like. A lot. Unfortunately, it all came to a crashing halt this week. It sucks. Bad. Because I’m still crazy about her. And I’m hurt. And lost. And completely vulnerable. Which I hate. Yesterday was miserable. Now, I’m just second guessing… and triple guessing… and quadruple guessing what I should be doing. Do I keep trying? Do I go cold turkey and give up? Do I give it some space and reach out in a week or two? I don’t know much except I know that this feeling is excruciating.
  • Not completely unrelated to the last bullet point, I’ve been having serious thoughts about looking into counseling or a therapist in the area. The only problem is that I’m absolutely clueless on where to begin. I’m a bit across the board as to what I think I’m looking for… personal growth? reflection on my past relationships? communication goals? life coaching? And from there, how do you find a “good” one to go to? It doesn’t help that I just started a new job, so my insurance isn’t exactly squared away yet either. I’m just not sure how this works, so if you have experience, advice would be much appreciated.
  • Again… not completely unrelated to the last two bullet points… I’ve been reading through The 5 Love Languages for Singles by Gary Chapman during my lunch break. I’m pretty certain that my love language is Quality Time. But I speak well to others in Gifts and Acts of Service. Which leaves me lacking in Physical Touch and downright abysmal in Words of Affirmation. I’ll let you connect the dots. I just wish change came easier to me.
  • On a semi-unrelated note, I’m now in the market for extra-curricular activities to keep me moving in the right directions. I’m seriously considering getting back into volunteering at the animal shelter. I love dogs and ideally, the extra walking should help shed the pounds I’m needing to shake for my New Years Resolution. Or maybe spend a couple of weekends with Habitat for Humanity. I’m already in their system from volunteering with work. I’m also kicking around the idea of joining up an intramural/rec league of some kind. First options would be softball or flag football.  All new things I’ve never done before, so that leaves me a little lost and leery.

Hope your week has been better than mine. I’m looking forward to the weekend.

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2nd Quarter Report – 2016

I haven’t typed up a blog post in the entire quarter? Good thing that’s not a resolution this year. Let’s see how things are looking so far…

  • 12 Books:
    • 2Q projection – 6
    • 2Q actual – 5
    • Did a little catching up this quarter! I finished Edisto Jinx, my mom’s second book in her Edisto Island series in May. Then finished the first (Sorcerer’s Stone) and second (Chamber of Secrets) Harry Potter books within two weeks of each other in June. And I’m about 60 pages from the end of the third (Prisoner of Azkaban) book now, so I almost got on track. I’ve got plenty to read going forward. There are the last four Potter books, The Girl On The Train, two Stephen King books, my mom’s next book (Echoes of Edisto), and The Five Love Languages for Singles (yeah.. yeah…) that I want to try and make it through before the year’s end.
  • 12,000 Dollars:
    • 2Q projection – $6,000
    • 2Q actual – $7,622.37
    • When I calculated how much I had saved so far this year, my numbers only came up as $3,622.37. It made no sense that I had only saved $1,000 in a quarter. Then it dawned on me that… oh yeah… I bought a freakin’ house! Or signed a contract to build and buy one, rather. So that was $4,000 that’s now invested into a pile of dirt instead of collecting interest in a savings account. And there will be more spent once I start picking out counters, cabinets, floors, etc. But yup, I’m ahead of schedule on this one. My Freakin House
  • 12 Parks:
    • 2Q projection – 6
    • 2Q actual – 4
    • Still slipping a bit behind on this one. I hit two more parks this quarter: Lake Greenwood and Musgrove Mill in June. Neither was overly exciting. But it was good to get out into the woods with Harper for some exercise. I’m heading to Columbia this weekend, so maybe I can sneak in a park or two over the long, holiday weekend.
  • 12,000 Push-ups/Sit-ups:
    • 2Q projection – 6,000
    • 2Q actual – 809
    • Whoa. Crash and burn on this one. Somewhere in the beginning of the quarter, I just…. quit. I made it to at least comfortably doing 20 in a row. But now I’m back at square one and struggling all over again. I’ve tried doubling up during the day to try and catch up but only doing 10-15 at a time is making this tough. Gotta get back on that horse!
  • 12 Football Games:
    • 2Q projection – 6
    • 2Q actual – 0
    • Still not football season, still no football games. Although I did make the trip to Clemson for the spring game with a girl and the family. Nothing real exciting to report. But we did learn that my oldest nephew definitely does not care for the noise or the “big TV”. You’ve got a couple of years to get that fixed, kid!
  • 12,000 Gamerscore:
    • 2Q projection – 6,000
    • 2Q actual – 4,810
    • I’m behind but in a better spot than I thought I’d be. I did pick up a couple of Destiny achievements I had missed over the year. I’ve been playing through TellTale’s The Walking Dead series with a girl to pick up some more. And I’ve cruised through some on Defense Grid 2 to just kill some time. Inside just came out Wednesday, so I want to pick that one up. Then there’s plenty to play in the fall: Destiny’s new expansion, the BioShock Collection, Gears of War 4, South Park, and Watch Dogs 2. I may have to work a little harder here but I think I’m still within striking distance on this one.
  • 12 Pounds:
    • 2Q projection – -6.0
    • 2Q actual – +1.0
    • Still pointed in the wrong direction but I’ve lost a good bit of weight since the 1st quarter. I’m up 1 pound on the year but down 6 pounds since the last weigh-in. I’m not sure I’ll hit 12 pounds on the year but I’m at least heading in the right direction now.

Not too bad for the quarter. I surpassed my money goal. I’m close to catching up on books. My weight and gamerscore goals are looking much better than last quarter. I’ve got some work to do on my parks and push ups/sit ups goal though, so I’ll see if I can’t focus a little more on that these next three months.

How are your resolutions treating you?

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1st Quarter Report – 2016

It’s funny how resolutions work. Last year, I struggled to get to four concerts by December. This year, I’ve seen Marianas Trench twice, Jon Pardi, and Carly Rae Jepsen in the first three months, with Kacey Musgraves and possibly Chris Stapleton in the next quarter. My 2015 trip goal was front loaded with Hawaii and St. Augustine in April but all of my trips are stacking up in the fourth quarter this time around.

So how are the goals looking up ’til now?

  • 12 Books:
    • 1Q projection – 3
    • 1Q actual – 2
    • What would a reading goal of mine be without starting the year behind? I finished up Halo: Contact Harvest by Joseph Staten in January. It was okay. Definitely not the best of the Halo books bunch. Then I wrapped up Wild by Cheryl Strayed halfway through March. I loved this book because I can relate to her pushing her own boundaries and the inevitable return to the “real world” she struggled with. I started Edisto Jinx by C Hope Clark (my momma!) late in the month but I haven’t made much headway yet.
  • 12,000 Dollars:
    • 1Q projection – $3,000
    • 1Q actual – $2,644.85
    • The first quarter is always the worst, money-wise. I have my IPTAY donation due. It’s my second year buying season football tickets. This year, I managed to snag a girlfriend around February. Going forward though, my annual increase at work goes into effect. And hopefully the big purchases die down a bit. I should be able to catch up by the second quarter or third at the latest.
  • 12 Parks:
    • 1Q projection – 3
    • 1Q actual – 2
    • Not terribly behind. Yet. My fourth quarter is always shot on the weekends with football, so I’ve got some work to do. In February, I took a mental health day to go play in the woods and hit up Little Pee Dee State Park and Woods Bay State Park with Harper. There was a 1.3 mile trail at Little Pee Dee and a 0.9 mile loop at Woods Bay, so nothing too strenuous. The Bridge Run is this weekend, so I’m going to try and visit Givhans Ferry while I’m down there. And I always have Sesquicentennial in Columbia as a backup. Maybe some camping trips in my future?
  • 12,000 Push-ups/Sit-ups:
    • 1Q projection – 3,000
    • 1Q actual – 686
    • This was always going to be a back-heavy goal. The idea was to start the first week of the year with 1 push-up and 1 sit-up a day, every day. But I thought that was starting a little light. I’m finishing up this week with 19 a day, so I should be almost at 750 by the end of the weekend. Just FYI – crunches are infinitely harder to do than push-ups once the numbers get a little higher.
  • 12 Football Games:
    • 1Q projection – 3
    • 1Q actual – 0
    • No football season means no football games. I am planning a trip with the girl and the brother’s family for the Spring Game in Clemson a week from now. But I’m not cutting corners and counting that one. The big boy games start in September with Auburn, so look for this one to be dormant for another quarter and some change.
  • 12,000 Gamerscore:
    • 1Q projection – 3,000
    • 1Q actual – 1,715
    • I’m a bit conflicted on this one. I probably would have been close to hitting my goal on this one. But in January, I picked up a PS4 to play Call of Duty and The Division with a group of guys (and girl) from work. PlayStation uses trophies, not achievements and gamerscore. So my 1,715 score only covers my Xbox One progress. I have 715 points from Rise of the Tomb Raider and just 100%’d Life is Strange earlier this week to get the 1,000 points there. There’s still a few achievements within reach on Destiny. I’m playing through Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishment now. I’m debating on whether to pick up Quantum Break. I’ve got a standing offer to co-op Borderlands. Just have to carve out the time!
  • 12 Pounds:
    • 1Q projection – -3.0
    • 1Q actual – +7.0
    • Ha. Going the wrong direction in a fierce way. So much for this goal. #Fat

Nothing too bad but nothing too great either. I’m behind on all of my goals but that was to be expected on some (football games, push-ups, sit-ups) and I’m not far behind on most of the others (money, gamerscore, books, and parks). The only one that really caught me off guard was the weight goal. But that’s why I keep track each quarter: find out what’s working and correct what isn’t.

So how was the start to your year?

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What I Learned: March 11, 2016

  • There’s a girl. That I like. A lot. Unfortunately, she has no nickname yet.
  • I’ve already been to as many concerts in a month and a half in 2016 as I went to in all of 2015. My last entry walked through my two Marianas Trench shows I went to in January. I got a last minute invite to the Jon Pardi and Brothers Osborne show on January 29th at the Fillmore for a little country in my life. Then on February 13th, I took in Carly Rae Jepsen’s stop at the Fillmore. The CRJ date wound up being a lot more fun than I thought it would be. I was expecting a room full of underage, teenage girls. Instead, it was a a crowd full of girl groups and gay guys. Fabulous, ecstatic gay guys. On April 16th, I get to see Kacey Musgraves at Amos’ Southend for another round of country. It’s been a good year for live music!
  • Tom Clancy’s The Division came out this past Tuesday. It’s an open-world, always connected shooter RPG. Very similar to Destiny, only in the real world (New York City) and third-person instead of first-person. Which is trouble, seeing as how I’ve put close to 800 hours into Destiny in a little more than a year and a half. The only con is that I’m playing it on PS4 to join up with a crew from work. I’d much rather be on my Xbox. But we’ll see if I wind up wasting away as much time on a second game. It’s been really good so far!
  • The Republican Party sucks. To be honest, I’m far too conservative to ever truly consider the Democratic Party as a viable option. Would I vote that way? Sure. But I couldn’t see myself permanently switching camps. But I’m almost at that point with the Republicans too. I refuse to vote for Bernie Sanders (the government is already too bloated, so no thanks to taking more of my money), Hillary Clinton (how the email server situation isn’t a bigger deal is mind-blowing), or Donald Trump (No. Just no). I’m almost at that point with Cruz too. So 2016 may wind up being the year I learn how to write in a candidate. Where’s a socially moderate, fiscally conservative party when you need one?
  • I need to work on scheduling a vacation somewhere. This time last year, I was beginning my Hawaii plan. The only thing on the docket so far is my annual trip to Charleston for the Bridge Run in April, maybe a Saturday in Clemson for the Spring Game the following weekend, and my fall football trips – most notably Boston in early October. I have money in the bank and 128 hours worth of PTO. Where should I go?

It’s been awhile! How have you guys been? Hope you enjoy the weather and your weekend, even if it is an hour shorter!

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“I came back to you broken and I’ve been away too long”

The start of the New Year has been less than ideal. My hours at work have been brutal and physically beating me down with little to no end in sight. Clemson lost the only National Championship in my lifetime in a heartbreaking fashion. I’m confused with the outlook of couple of friendships and where they’re supposed to go. I’m struggling with what I want my next year, two years, five years to really look like and where I want to be – both figuratively and literally.

In times of trouble, some people have a calming place they retreat to until the storm has passed, some get lost in the pages of a book, some have a close friend to confide in.

Music’s always been my go-to comfort.

I have no idea when music transitioned from a passive to an active experience for me. Growing up, my parents weren’t musicians. Other than the occasional piano playing, neither of my parents play an instrument. There weren’t frequent trips to concerts. At best, my childhood memories consist of late 80s/early 90s country music and the soundtracks to Dirty Dancing and Top Gun.

If anything, I was on the outside looking in. I distinctly remember moving to Irmo in elementary school, taking a field trip to Lexington, SC, and feeling completely left out as the entire bus knew the words to Whoomp! (There It Is) by Tag Team as 104.7 WNOK was streamed through the bus speakers. Top 40 music was new to me.

Over the years, music just kept creeping in. I got a pair of rollerblades as a present one year, which bled over into Friday nights being spent at the skating rink and being introduced to 90s dance music. TRL – a crash course in Top 40 music – became a fixture on the living room TV as soon as I got home from school. I’d watch every episode of MTV’s Making the Video, which led me to Blink 182. That would later spiral out of control into the love for pop-punk that still makes me giddy.

My first concert was a Reba McEntire show in Columbia with my family. I vaguely remember it, so I barely count it as a defining experience. But around high school, Columbia’s rock station (93.5 WARQ) began holding an annual music festival in Finlay Park downtown. Wanting to fit in with friends, I’d tag along in my junior and senior year. In what may be my first connection with live music, I can still remember the chills I got from Fuel’s performance of Shimmer the night of September 15, 2000. And the disappointment when Good Charlotte backed out of the 2001 lineup.

To this day, I credit Good Charlotte as being the band that started my music fascination. I still proudly own a copy of their first, self-titled album before they re-released it with The Click, which also makes me sad since I love that song. I loved that the founders were twins and that was unique. I knew where Waldorf, Maryland was. I knew Benji taught himself how to play guitar. I knew Billy Martin had his own clothing line. I saw them in Charlotte at Tremont Music Hall (RIP!) on 11/13/2002 and still count this as my first concert.

Then their The Young and The Hopeless record came out in 2003 and blew my damn mind. The opening track is perfect at building hype. To this day, I can recognize the opening guitar tracks to The Anthem and The Young and The Hopeless in two or three notes, easy. Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous blew them up into a huge band. My first college crush at Lander loved My Bloody Valentine. My first college girlfriend’s AIM screen name was a reference to Riot Girl. You could put this album in today and I would know every word to every song.

This led to a college subscription to Alternative Press. Which led to an interest in Warped Tour. Which led to bands like Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, All American Rejects, Yellowcard, and eventually Fall Out Boy. It’s well documented that I claim Fall Out Boy as my favorite band. They were what Good Charlotte was, only during a time in my life when I had the money, time, and freedom to go to any concert I wanted to. To this day, I’m usually one of the older fans (if you’re excluding the parents) in the pit for their shows.

Somewhere along the way, I stumbled across Marianas Trench. They’re a Canadian pop rock band. No one in the United States knows them. Their lead singer co-wrote Call Me Maybe. But no one knows that either. Celebrity Status was my introduction and I couldn’t stop listening. So I downloaded their album Masterpiece Theatre. I wore this album out on my cross country trip in 2010. I’d send lyrics to All To Myself to a girl I liked. Josh Ramsay absolutely kills their songs, vocally. If Fall Out Boy was my Good Charlotte 2.0, Marianas Trench was my Fall Out Boy 2.0.

They released Ever After in 2011. Haven’t Had Enough were the lyrics on this album sent to a girl. Fallout still gives me chills. Desperate Measures is the song that got me hooked – this album’s Celebrity Status. By Now is heartbreaking. The album’s a concept album and all of the music videos follow the story with the band and the same actress. Fortunately, I got to see their Charlotte show on their The Noise tour on June 5, 2013. The recap on that can be found here.

Finally, Astoria, their follow up to Ever After, was released October, 2015. Just a mere four years after the last album. Side note – Let’s not wait that long again guys. Okay? Okay! Yet another concept album with this one being inspired by the 80s. The songs on this album hit me in a much more emotional place than any album I’ve listened to. One Love is the album’s first single. Who Do You Love is full of the band harmonizing gorgeously. Wildfire may be my favorite song. Not just by Marianas Trench. My favorite song ever. It was a song I just got in the first piano notes. Once the drum beat kicked in, I was sold. Josh, again, kills the lyrics on this song. Dearly Departed is amazing for the simple fact that it name-drops lyrics from the previous album. Forget Me Not is absolutely beautiful but crushing about his mom’s battle with Lewy body dementia.

So when they announced they were touring the Southeast again, I jumped at the chance to buy tickets to both the Charleston and Charlotte dates on their Hey You Guys tour.

I can’t even begin to describe the Charleston show. It will probably wind up being the worst-sold show on their tour, as there may have been 200 people there. But it will easily be one of my most cherished, special nights I will ever experience.

Before show even started, I lucked out and got a free tshirt from the merch guy. The shirt I wanted was sold out of XL sizes, so I settled on another design. But they had a lot of old merch from previous tours they were giving away to anyone who stood out or spent a lot of money. Turns out, they had an XL in those, so he threw one in for me. San Diego and I spent about 15 minutes chatting with him about the tour, the fans he sees, how he was filling in for a buddy and how his scene (arena rock) is so different. It was fun to talk that side of a concert with someone.

As soon as the band came out, I could tell something was off. Josh struggled hitting some of the notes and words in Astoria to open up the show. I distinctly remember thinking I would be bummed out if they cancel the Charlotte date the next night because he’s losing his voice. It was that bad. Then he wasn’t drinking water and brought out a red Solo cup. I thought he might be drunk and missing notes because he was a bit out of it. But then during One Love, he lost it. He missed lyrics, was visibly emotional, and started tearing up. It really hit home when he came back out to sing Good To You for the encore.

He stopped the show and told the crowd that he needed to “break character” for a minute because he “was struggling.” He said that sometimes it’s hard to perform in front of a crowd when life isn’t going right. He said he had a challenging day and started to lose it again. Then pulled himself back together to thank the crowd for helping him make it a bit better. It didn’t help that he played Good To You by himself without a band backing him because he was visibly upset trying to sing the song. But it made for an amazing atmosphere towards the end of the song when the crowd was singing back with him.

On one hand, I felt terrible for him, having to put on a show in front of a small room of people after having something clearly emotional happen to him. I can’t imagine how hard that gets when everyone’s expecting you to be this character and you’re struggling through it.

On the other hand, I can’t explain how grateful I am to have gotten to experience that. That’s probably only ever happened at a handful of shows, if ever. It was such a human, humbling moment to see him just be like any other person struggling through a tough day. Something about that just makes me appreciate him, his band, and the music that much more. And in every song he struggled through, I have moments I’ll relive every time I hear that song, knowing how real those lyrics are for him.

If only to drive the point home of how rare it is for him to break his on-stage persona, he sent this tweet out two days later.

I can’t overstate how perfect that show was for me. I will never forget it.

The Charlotte show was the next night (January 27th) and noticeably different. The crowd was massive compared to Charleston’s stop. Josh was back to being his usual, killer performer self, working the crowd and stage. The atmosphere was so much more alive, given Josh’s energy and the larger crowd feeding off of it. The merch guy even recognized me, saying he thought he was having deja vu.

Some funny points about the night were that I had mentioned to San Diego a couple of things while walking to the venue. First, I noted how many more people there were in Charlotte at the show this time than Charleston the night before, as well as the Charlotte stop three years ago the first time I saw them. Second, there was a guy who was easily 6’5 at the Charleston show camped out up front with his wife/girlfriend. I had made mention at the show how that was sort of a jerk move to be front and center, while being the tallest guy there, blocking the best view from everyone. He wasn’t lively or moving around. He didn’t even bob his head to the beat. But he knew every. single. word. to every song being played.

Well, in between songs when Josh was addressing the crowd, he made mention of both of my stories. He said it was only their second time in Charlotte but that the last time they were there, it was the worst selling stop on the tour. Then later in the night, he went on a rant about the tall guy. He said it was terrifying because he was a giant dude, just staring a hole into him all night, but mouthing every word to every song. Just a funny coincidence how he mentioned both stories I had been talking about already.

I’m really glad I got to see the “normal” performance in Charlotte, so I didn’t miss out on the usual expectation of a Marianas Trench show. But seeing the Charleston show makes me feel lucky to experience it at all. It gives me an entirely new perspective on the people, the band, and the songs. Fall Out Boy may have just been bumped from the top spot.

Here’s the set list and my favorite lyric from each song.

  • Astoria – “I’ll see whatever doesn’t make me stronger kills me”
  • Celebrity Status – “And I pray at the church of asses in the seats”
  • Burning Up – “Sometimes a whisper’s just too much”
  • All To Myself – “I’ve been blaming myself and I think you know why”
  • Who Do You Love – “I hear the words I’ve spoken and everything comes out wrong”
  • Fallout – “To fight for you, after this long, I shouldn’t have to”
  • Stutter – “So here I am, you can take or leave me. But I won’t ever be anywhere but here.”
  • One Love – “And I’ve been broken but I’m better every day”
  • This Means War – “I’d rather be a riot than indifferent”
  • Desperate Measures – “For a first effort, this feels kind of last ditch”
  • Shut Up and Kiss Me – “You can say you’re kind of bored with this, but if you’re young, it’s new, I guess”
  • Pop 101 – “Hipster music on cassette but you probably don’t know them yet”
  • While We’re Young – “So sing it back if you’re with me, I wanna hear how your heart speaks”
  • Cross My Heart – “Take me home, I don’t wanna be alone tonight”
  • Good To You – “I’d be good to you and you’d be so good to me”
  • Haven’t Had Enough – “But I still need you, need you, don’t mean to tease you”
  • End of an Era – “I’m so afraid of trying something new, cause every start begins with saying goodbye to you”

It was a great song lineup. The only thing that would have made it perfect would have been adding Wildfire into the mix somewhere. Selfishly, it’s my favorite song they’ve ever done. But in response to a fan on Saturday, he made it clear he’s just not ready yet.

Take your time, dude. That’ll just make it that much better when you’re ready.

Can’t wait until next time!

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