tiffanie brunson

LANY Live Show Review

Role: Author

About the project: This review was written for a music journalism class at Rollins College. I was given permission to publish it here by the class instructor.

“Can I call you Tiff?” he said with a thick Australian accent as I slid his cortado across the coffee bar toward him. “You can call me anything you want in that accent,” I thought to myself and somehow managed not to say out loud. Instead, I giggled out a simple “yes, that’s fine” and we continued chatting as you do when you’re working behind the bar at a local coffee shop. Small talk and chit-chat are an unspoken, but very important, everyday task for a barista. As Steve and I kept chatting, several young men filed in next to him and chummily greeted him in disappointing, American accents. I was really hoping for more Steves. But, soon enough, I was able to overlook their exotic accent deficiency and was welcomed in to their chummy circle. They found out more about me in 30 minutes than most people who see me on a daily basis know. And I found out about them too. They were a band called LANY and Steve was their merch guy. They were playing a show at Backbooth, a grungy local venue just across the street, that very night and invited me to come see them play. With my ever-growing to-do list on the brain, I glibly told them, “maybe! We’ll see how this shift goes.” My new friends traded contact information with me and left. I received a text moments later: “Your name is on the guest list with a plus one. Hope to see you there. - Steve.”

With the liberation of free entry and the comfort of a concert-buddy, my co-worker and I closed up shop and trudged across the street to wait in line amongst dozens and dozens of teen girls, their moms, and a handful of people our own age, where I proceeded to complain about the pointless act of waiting in line for a standing-room only, general admission show. I never did move away from the line, though. For (what I thought was) a small, unknown band, I was shocked at the turnout. The show was sold out and the line for entry was only growing as we waited. When we finally reached the front doors, we breathed a sigh of relief—me, because I didn’t have to wait in line anymore and my co-worker, because he didn’t have to listen to me complain about it. When we stepped over the threshold, we were greeted by a thrilled and energetic Steve, just as friendly and welcoming as he was three hours ago. More and more people filled in until moving through the crowd seemed impossible and the only thing I could think was, “this has to be a fire hazard.”

The opening band, Transviolet, stepped out onto the stage, all wearing kimonos, and gave the crowd a first-taste of the electro-pop melodies that we had in store for us. While our teenage co-attenders all hopped and sang along, my co-worker and I shouted out other potential band names that started with “trans.” Transylvania, Transcontinental, Trasatlanticism, and so on. We sensed the crowd’s burgeoning annoyance immediately surrounding us, but you’d be surprised what being on the band’s guest list does to your superiority complex. When LANY stepped out onto the stage, though, we couldn’t help but shrink back down. They filled the room with fun and happiness and a feeling that was familiar to me from only hours ago: welcome.

Lyrically, LANY's songs aren’t anything special. With titles that range from “ILYSB” to “4EVER!,” they don’t exactly tap into the philosophy of the human condition. But, it’s that same simplicity that is what is so inviting about them. They speak a language that’s easy for everyone to understand. Teenage girls, their mothers and some few (slightly embarrassed to be there) 20- somethings were all in one room, able to connect over the simple but inherent idea of being young and hopelessly in love. Synthesizers pumped through our veins and images of the ocean, an old Mercedes, blue skies and, inexplicably, Angelina Jolie’s smiling face, appeared on the screens behind them as they sang out our teenage anthems. Whether we were conjuring far-off memories or experiencing it in its entirety just as we were, every person in the room connected in a way I hadn’t thought possible when I was standing outside, watching the doorman draw Xs on the hands of underage LANY fans. We were all welcome. It was a safe place. We could sing out “oh, my heart hurts so good. I love you, baby, so bad, so bad” and “Don't care about you. You can say what you want,” and mean every word in a very different way. But for those 65 minutes, the differences didn’t matter. It was only the feeling of young love and young rejection to the electro-pop sound of LANY that mattered. We all had that.

The show ended, as all shows are wont to do, and little-by-little the crows reluctantly stepped outside. The feeling of invitation and welcome that marked the show before was replaced with bouncers ushering us out so the crew could clean up. As understandable as it was, it was equally disappointing. Teenage girls lingered outside to catch one more glimpse of their heartthrobs, constructing misguided narratives of romance that will never be or just hoping to get something autographed. My co-worker and I hung around outside to wait for Steve, per his request. As I looked on at these teenager girls, my mind didn’t linger on the pathetic situation they found themselves in as it normally would. Instead, I felt sad for them. Or rather, I felt sad with them. Maybe they were just trying to meet their idols and play out their childish fantasies, but I understand all too well the fleeting moments of feeling connected like that. And I felt sad that it was over. Steve came bounding out, secured us in a firm hug and insisted we go find some food. I, in a probably confusingly serious tone, thanked him sincerely for getting us in to the show. Steve, oblivious to its deeper meaning, replied, “you’re welcome.”

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