A Brutal Christmas

You know that scene in Fight Club, when Edward Norton walks into the office all bruised and tattered? When everyone looks at him not quite knowing what he has done or has happened to him, when he holds that sense of pride striking fear in each co-worker?

That’s how I feel today.

This morning I walked into the office, sat down and began to get ready for the day – when my manager called me into her office. I took a seat and she asked me how last night was, my response was something like, “It was great, I am feeling a little rough today though.” A look of confusion and wonder came across her face as I lifted my arm to scratch my nose and a large bruise appeared on my arm.

Last night Christmas came early. I got to enjoy, for the low low cost of $15, no dinner and lack of sleep, an amazing show. I had been looking forward to it since before Thanksgiving, ready to stake out my spot and stay there for months – I didn’t.

Wednesday began like any other day, aside from the Christmas Donuts I picked up. I woke, got dressed and headed to work. I was scheduled to get off early, yet somehow still worked late then headed to Jaxx in Springfield, Va.

My City is Rome was opening for Protest the Hero and a few other national bands.

I had not missed a My City is Rome show yet and I sure was not going to miss this one. Protest the Hero has become one of the only bands since I was in third grade and in love with the Spice Girls to be known as my “favorite band.” In my book “favorite” is much like “hate,” and well I guess “love,” despite being smaller words they are strong words that pack a lot of meaning – I mean seriously, I am 22 and have yet to pick a “favorite” color.

This was going to be the fourth time I had seen Protest the Hero, each time had been uniquely amazing. Years ago, for the first time I saw them live at Jaxx Arif, the bassist, had a gorgeous green bass and the sound was so unique and memorizing.

Next I saw them at Warped Tour, which quite possibly could have been one of the most amazing experiences. Fighting off the larger girls in the crowd that had actually staked out their spot in front of the stage from early in the day, I finally got to see Protest the Hero up close. It got better though; Warped Tour, for anyone unfamiliar with it, is an outdoor relaxed music fest. After Protest the Hero left the stage they invited fans back to their merch booth to say hi – you better believe I went. I got to meet each member of the band, tell Arif how much I love his lyrics — they use “equilibrium” in one of their songs and it is one of my favorite words – I got a fitted Protest the Hero t-shirt signed by each member of the band and oh yeah – I got a picture with them too.

Not too long ago Protest the Hero came back around this way and I headed up to Maryland to see them at the Ottobar. I remember watching all of the other bands warm up the stage for them; standing in the back, enjoying, commenting and noting my surroundings. Then it was time for Protest the Hero’s set to move onto the stage, which is when I made my move – again pissing off everyone who had claimed their spot much earlier in the day. By the time Rody and the the rest of the band took the stage, I was up front and center. (Check out the video, I am the girl with the short blonde hair going crazy in the front middle.)


And now, just a few days before Christmas Protest the Hero was back again and to make it even better they were playing with My City is Rome, one of my favorite local bands (note the “one of my” prior to favorite).

I arrived at the venue after work; the local bands hadn’t taken the stage yet; however a group of fans were already claiming their spots upfront. I hung around in the back at the My City is Rome merch booth talking to different members of the band and friends. When My City is Rome took the stage I moved forward, found a decent spot near the front where I could see. Before I knew it all that was behind me was a sea of people – I stood looking for just one person that I might know and found no one. The set started and has been rumored to be one of “their best sets thus far;” I would have to agree.

After My City is Rome left the stage I made the way back to the merch booth then eventually to the bar; as the band right before Protest the Hero began to leave the stage my beer was tossed into the trash and I had begun weaving my way to the front.

Within a matter of minutes I was standing nearly on the heels of the fans that had been pressed up against the rail separating the stage and the crowd for hours and a lot of them were not all that happy about my presance.

Soon over an hour had passed and nothing had happened on stage. I had been standing in this giant mob making small talk with strange men while making sure I did not lose my spot.

After a series of text from Jared I learned the delay was because Protest the Hero had somehow wound up detained by the cops. Soon the crowd learned of what had happened and many were chanting, “Fuck the police!

Finally, after an apology from Rody and a Jaxx associate telling the crowd that, “Chanting ‘Fuck the police’ is not appreciated,” Protest the Hero made their way on stage for the sound check – and I, well I made my way to the very front. Pinned in-between two kids with X’s on their hands, the “universal” sign for an underage fan; I elbowed, stepped on toes and pushed until I had my needed space. They had all stood their ground since 6 pm that night, it was now close to 11:30 and in less than five minutesI had taken part of their spot.

One of the nice things about being 5’2” an little over 110 pounds and well a girl is that when you elbow someone, they don’t usually expect it to be you and even better when they turn and look to see who is jabbing them in their side and see little old me they step aside and make some room.

Protest the Hero put on an amazing show, as usual. I spent the entire time covered in everyone’s sweat, including Rody, pinned between the rail and some strange fan behind me. I felt my ribs press, harder and harder along the metal rail – I could feel the bruises forming, my stomach turning and my ribs about to break. I would push back, I would place both my feet on their one foot that was attached to the knee that keep making its way into my backand place all my weight down. To save my ribs I placed my arms across my chest at some points, causing them to bruise too.

Jared and I with Protest the Hero at Warped Tour 2008

It’s understandable as to why everyone was pushing up behind me, packing in tighter then sardines in a can; Rody spent a majority of his time performing right in front of me. At one point, during one of my favorite songs of theirs (note the “one of” prior to favorite), Sex Tapes, Rody looked down at me, screaming the lyrics along with him and then held the mic down for me to sing into. I am a terrible singer, and sure no one heard me, but needless to say, it was amazing (even if he had done the same at the last show I saw Protest the Hero at) and he did not do it again the rest of the night.

The green bass that Afir used the first time I saw Protest the Hero play, well I was almost positive he had retired it. When I got to meet them at Warped Tour I asked about the green bass and told him how much I liked it, the next time they played it was still packed away. But yesterday, yesterday the green bass came back out and I was ecstatic.

Sleeping last night was so painful, this morning my bruises showed when I rolled up my sleeves and a slight look of pain traveled to my eyes every time I took a breath. It is quite possible that I am getting to old to battle my way to the front of the stage or even be out till nearly 1:30 am when I have to wake up for work the next day; but god damn was it worth it.

Christmas came early this year, and today, well today I am feeling the brutal pain of the Christmas cheer.

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