Touché Amoré. Marquis Theater. 02.06.14


I’m too old for this shit. Seriously. Standing in lines to get into punk rock shows should be something I reminisce about when I want my daughter to think I used to be cool. It’s not something I should be doing while the windchill whispers death into my frozen ears. When Patrick Kindlon asked if we were “ok with what was happening outside”, during his opening set with Drug Church, we shrugged the -10 temperature off like it was nothing — like we were all true Colorado natives who wouldn’t flinch if Old Man Winter were to walk up and offer his hand. But that’s bullshit. It was fucking cold outside. Even for Colorado, it was fucking cold. And that’s why Kindlon was cursing the weather in front of a packed house. Smoking and loitering habits were put on hold for the night. The sold-out crowd, refusing to shed their winter wear, were shoulder to shoulder, indulging in the comfort of strangers for the selfish reason of staying warm.

I’m too old for this shit. Seriously. Three opening bands? I am a fan of Kindlon and his various projects — he’s snotty and abrasive in a way that reminds me of Jello Biafra back in the Dead Kennedy days — but I can’t hang out for four bands. So I enjoyed Drug Church’s quick set — 20 minutes of punk, 5 minutes of bitching about the cold (and cab drivers and altitude and vomit, etc.) — and then I had to bail for awhile. Granted, I think there were more people in the crowd for mewithoutYou than there were for the headliners, and more power to them, but I bundled up and walked myself down to Star Bar to kill some time. The foreboding windchill kept me company as I made my way back down Larimer Street.

I’m too old for this shit. Seriously. Kindlon once gave his listeners some life advice. To best enjoy his music, the listener should make less than $20K a year, have long hair, have roommates, a pregnancy scare and wake up after nine, but before noon. The list didn’t end there, but by that point I had already failed the test. I thought about this as I stood in front of the stage waiting for Touché Amoré to start their set. I didn’t even have to scan the crowd to realize I didn’t fit in. I pay more in taxes than most of these kids make. I shave my head because I’m losing my hair. I don’t have roommates because I have a wife and a daughter. I wake up in the morning because it’s time to work. And I am going to be 37 years old this weekend…

I’m too old for this shit. Seriously. I have literally been going to punk rock shows longer than most of these kids have been alive. I started going to shows like this when I moved to San Diego in 1994. Soma was my all-ages venue of choice and I practically lived there with Bad Religion, Pennywise, Good Riddance, Lagwagon, NOFX, Buck-O-Nine, Sprung Monkey, Rocket From the Crypt… But that was 20 years ago — back when I was the poster child for Kindlon’s criteria. But now I’m…

My thoughts are cut short by a massive shift. Jeremy Bolm is on the stage. The crowd becomes a vice grip. Independent action becomes impossible. We have become the faceless, angry mass. When Jeremy starts screaming, we start screaming…

You want to know what I am doing here?!!!! 
The same reason it’s been for all these years!!!!

It’s loud. So loud that it drowns out any rational thought. Bodies are flying. I catch a shoe, still connected to a foot, connected to a body of someone young enough to be my kid. As another kicks the air inches in front of my face, instincts take control and I swat it away like an annoying insect. One kid launches off the stage and he’s so small that I literally catch him with my two hands before passing him off to those behind me. I am dripping with sweat and writhing in this sea of chaos and emotion, while crowd surfers bounce from one outstretched hand to some other kid’s skull to their inevitable resting place on the hard ground — only to jump right back up to ride the wave again.

I’m parting the sea between brightness and me!!!!
Before I drown myself and everyone and everything!!!!

I’m not too old for this shit! My adrenaline is pumping and age is just a number. Something happens and I’m able to direct all of my attention to the band on the stage, while also being hyperaware of everything going on around me. It’s survival mode and it’s incredibly invigorating. This is punk rock at it’s best. It’s both aggressive and communal. Touché Amoré  and their fanbase personify this ideal.

If you fantasize about your funeral I understand
I’ve been there before
If what’s more important is the music played
Than who’d attend
We!  Are!  The!  Same!

And then it’s over. 18 emotive punk rock anthems and the band is gone. The sea is still. And just to prove nothing has changed in the past 20 years, an asshole security guard is yelling at people to get the fuck out.

Touché Amoré might preach some pretty depressing shit, and they did end the set with a song about attending your own funeral, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel extremely alive as I left the venue and walked back down Larimer. It might have just been the ringing in my ears, but I’m pretty sure the windchill had been silenced — it had nothing left to say.

Anyone / Anything
Just Exist
Art Official
The Great Repetition
Home Away From Here
Is Survived By
Method Act
Honest Sleep