Today I get to see my favorite band play for the first time. Since 2010,The Wonder Years have been my link to the past and soundtrack to the present, the kind of pop punk that touched upon everything that made me love the genre way back when in the first place, deepened with an of-age maturity perfectly matching my own struggles, trials, inner demons and dreams. Dan Campbell and company created a tremendous force in a genre ever-shifting, ever-changing, ever running from its own stereotypes without sacrificing their own progression. For this, and for the countless hours spent singing at the top of my lungs, I love them. Check out the tag at the end of this post. You’ll see.

I get to see The Wonder Years today, and it’s mostly because I live in Pittsburgh, a major market with a devoted community of promoters who work hard to deliver the best of the scene, and one-of-a-kind events like the Four Chord Music Festival. It’s been such an improvement in my exposure to bands and overall quality of life to be able to find out a band is touring and know there’s a pretty good shot they’re coming through a local venue, after I spent a year and a half missing out due to having to travel to D.C., Philadelphia or Baltimore to see the bands I love.

Shows were immensely important to me growing up. They were the only place I felt sort of cool – at school I was an over-achieving nerd, at ballet class I was a tortured young artist, but in my basement blasting Taking Back Sunday or The Early November, I felt alright, understood. Thee early 2000s eruption of indie, emo and pop punk bands gave me an anchor, and I clung to it. Going to see the bands I loved live meant dancing and yelling and gaping in awe like a fool, but it also meant being part of a crowd I didn’t have to run from or morph in front of to fit in. I saw kids like me, and older ones with tattoos and cigarettes I’d one day emulate, in my own way. My fascination with stage and performance developed, learning to hear the acute differences between guitar parts and memorize set lists. The fixation eventually carried over to other parts of my life, when wearing band shirts and listening to headphones in the hallways led me to some of the best friends I ever made.

I’m no longer a mousy girl in checkered Vans with a button-covered messenger bag waiting outside the back door of The Bug Jar, but that feeling that drove me there never left. In some ways, my ability to satiate it has only increased with the time and resources adulthood can provide. Sure, I sometimes feel old (there was that time I went to the Touche Amore concert in my work clothes and high heels) but I’m so grateful to be able to indulge this part of myself, now more than ever. So, cheers to the Pittsburgh music community for giving me an outlet again, for enriching my 2014 with so many incredible shows, sounds and memories, for giving me another spin with that all-time favorite companion, distraction and medicine of live music.

Should be a great show.

“I’ve been acting like I’m strong
But the truth is, I’ve been losing ground
To a hospital too crowded,
A summer winding down,
I hadn’t seen a heartbreak until now,
I hadn’t felt a heartbreak until now.”

~Dismantling Summer
The Wonder Years,The Greatest Generation