The Speech I Needed To Hear

The Speech I Needed To Hear

Small-venue concert, very impactful message.

I’ve started to find that going to concerts has become my way of escaping the everyday stress of college life.

Putting aside all responsibilities for the night to go downtown and hear some of my favorite artists play some of my favorite songs live, right in front of me, has been able to fill me with the sense of the “sublime” (as my ethics professor would put it) and I leave feeling like a new person, like I can conquer all that the following week of work will throw at me.

Many times at concerts, artists like to use their power over a very captive audience to tell stories. Sometimes they’re funny anecdotes about something that happened on tour or an embarrassing thing they did, but more often than not the story is emotional, motivational, inspirational. Something to get the audience to feel. That’s the beauty of music. It opens you up to countless emotions that those little stories and speeches make ten times the impact. They stick with you.

The Bleachers concert was no exception.

Bleachers is currently a lesser-known band headed by the all-talented Jack Antonoff. Some may recognize him from being the lead guitarist in the band Fun., others may know his name because he’s worked with countless artists to help write and produce some of their best work (i.e. Sara Bareilles’ “Brave”, songs off of Taylor Swift’s 1989 and Reputation , and the entirety of Lorde’s Melodrama). You can imagine that he has some great music inside of him that he’s saved for his own pet project, which is exactly what Bleachers is.

And that is exactly the story he told us.

I can’t find a recording of the speech anywhere so I hold on to the fragments of it still in my mind. But I’ll try my hardest to do it justice. Jack started off his story by quieting the audience down and having one of his keyboardist’s play a single low tone.

“Do you hear that note? That sound is the beginning of Bleachers. Years ago I was traveling around the world playing all of this music and writing all of this music, but at the end of the night I would go back to my room, to silence. There was so much silence and so much music inside of me that needed to come out. You see, there’s a lot of anxiety in silence.

No, I’m serious.

There’s so much anticipation, there’s so much uneasiness in the quiet. It’s overwhelming. While I was hearing all of this music while traveling, I started hearing this one sound in all of these songs. And it was calling out. I searched everywhere for the specific keyboard that makes this sound and I ordered it from Malaysia and when it came in I set everything up and sat down and put my headphones on and played this note. There’s such a heaviness to this note.

It’s so sad and melancholy and I knew I had so many sad songs to come out of this, out of the silence that was in my life. So I started playing a melody, letting the note wrap around me and rest on me. But then I closed my eyes and started thinking.

What if, what if this melody is being played on stage and there are two drummers, two keyboardists, lights swirling above.

And it slowly builds up from the singular note until it’s an all-out cry. And I started realizing, maybe the sad songs don’t have to be so sad. Maybe they can be moving and they can be hopeful and they can acknowledge the pain and the loss and the hurt but they can do it as though the sadness is a friend and you want to go out with one last bang. And so began this song.”

Jack and his two keyboardists and his two drummers then went on to jump into “Rollercoaster”, the fan-favorite song from their first album he had us belt together at the top of our lungs, friends on each other’s shoulders and hand in hand.

Jack reminded us that no matter where we are in our lives, there can always be silence. No matter who we are or who we have around us or how privileged our lives look, we all have moments of emptiness and hurt and we are all allowed to. But if we embrace the silence, lean into it, and search for ways to make beauty out of it, we can make some of that silence go quiet for good. Or at least have an answer to it when it comes around again. You just need to keep searching.

Cover Image Credit: Justin Higuchi

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31 Reasons Why I Would NEVER Watch Season 2 Of '13 Reasons Why'

It does not effectively address mental illness, which is a major factor in suicide.

When I first started watching "13 Reasons Why" I was excited. I had struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts for a long time and thought this show would be bringing light to those issues. Instead, it triggered my feelings that I had suppressed.

With season two coming out soon, I have made up my mind that I am NEVER watching it, and here is why:

1. This show simplifies suicide as being a result of bullying, sexual assault, etc. when the issue is extremely more complex.

2. It does not effectively address mental illness, which is a major factor in suicide.

3. The American Foundation of Suicide Prevention has guidelines on how to portray suicides in TV shows and movies without causing more suicides.

"13 Reasons Why" disregarded those guidelines by graphically showing Hannah slitting her wrists.

4. It is triggering to those who have tried to commit suicide in the past or that struggle with mental illness.

5. It glorifies suicide.

6. It does not offer healthy coping solutions with trauma and bullying.

The only "solution" offered is suicide, which as mentioned above, is glorified by the show.

7. This show portrays Hannah as dramatic and attention-seeking, which creates the stereotype that people with suicidal thoughts are dramatic and seeking attention.

8. Hannah makes Clay and other people feel guilty for her death, which is inconsiderate and rude and NOT something most people who commit suicide would actually do.

9. This show treats suicide as revenge.

In reality, suicide is the feeling of hopelessness and depression, and it's a personal decision.

10. Hannah blames everyone but herself for her death, but suicide is a choice made by people who commit it.

Yes, sexual assault and bullying can be a factor in suicidal thoughts, but committing suicide is completely in the hands of the individual.

11. Skye justifies self-harm by saying, "It's what you do instead of killing yourself."

12. Hannah's school counselor disregards the clear signs of her being suicidal, which is against the law and not something any professional would do.

13. The show is not realistic.

14. To be honest, I didn't even enjoy the acting.

15. The characters are underdeveloped.

16. "13 Reasons Why" alludes that Clay's love could have saved Hannah, which is also unrealistic.

17. There are unnecessary plot lines that don't even advance the main plot.

18. No one in the show deals with their problems.

They all push them off onto other people (which, by the way, is NOT HEALTHY!!!).

19. There is not at any point in the show encouragement that life after high school is better.

20. I find the show offensive to not only me, but also to everyone who has struggled with suicidal thoughts.

21. The show is gory and violent, and I don't like that kind of thing.

22. By watching the show, you basically get a step-by-step guide on how to commit suicide.

Which, again, is against guidelines set by The American Foundation of Suicide Prevention.

23. The show offers no resources for those who have similar issues to Hannah.

24. It is not healthy for me or anyone else to watch "13 Reasons Why."

25. Not only does the show glorify suicide, but it also glorifies self-harm as an alternative to suicide.

26. Other characters don't help Hannah when she reaches out to them, which could discourage viewers from reaching out.

27. Hannah doesn't leave a tape for her parents, and even though the tapes were mostly bad, I still think the show's writers should have included a goodbye to her parents.

28. It simplifies suicide.

29. The show is tactless, in my opinion.

30. I feel like the show writers did not do any research on the topic of suicide or mental illness, and "13 Reasons Why" suffered because of lack of research.

31. I will not be watching season two mostly because I am bitter about the tastelessness.

And I do not want there to be enough views for them to make a season three and impact even more people in a negative way.

If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.
Cover Image Credit: Netflix

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7 Reasons To Get Excited For The Orlando Fringe Festival

Aside from the obvious draw of 100+ shows to choose from, there are so many more reasons to check it out.

The Orlando Fringe Festival is a two-week performing arts extravaganza featuring all kinds of acts from this city and others. It is also the longest-running theater festival in the United States, so it’s had plenty of time to get great. If you want the basics on how to attend, there is an article in the Orlando Sentinel that breaks it down for first-timers. But as we gear up for what is basically Coachella for theater nerds, here are just a few more things to get jazzed about.

1. You’ll finally be able to support your artist friends.

We all have that friend who is constantly involved in some sort of production. Of course you’d love to go and see them all, but who has the time? At Fringe, there are plenty of chances to see a show, since there are performances at many different times for two weeks. And if you have a lot of friends who are performers in Orlando, then I have good news! They will all be in the same place.

2. Two words: food trucks.

There is pretty much no other time when it is socially acceptable to eat a bunch of fried Oreos than at a carnival or at Fringe. Carnivals seem dangerous though, so you might as well just hang out at Fringe, where it’s safe.

3. There’s something for everyone.

Even if theater isn’t your thing, there are more than just a few alternative options available. You can also find concerts, stand up comedy, storytelling, and a whole lot of things that will make you say, “I didn’t know that was a thing."

4. This year, planning is easy.

In their 27th year, the Orlando Fringe has introduced a new way to plan which shows to see. The Fringe-o-Matic allows you to input the shows you’re interested in and create a personalized schedule so you can make it to (almost) all of them.

5. You’ll never have to travel far.

Most of the shows at Fringe are located in or around Loch Haven Park, and venues include the Orlando Shakespeare Theater, the Orlando Repertory Theatre and the Orlando Museum of Art. These are all within walking distance of each other, and are separated only by a parking lot (which, by the way, is free to use). The only other shows are BYOV, or Bring Your Own Venue, in multiple locations in Orlando.

6. It’s not just local acts.

Maybe if you’re an Orlando native, you’re a little tired of the local scene. This festival includes production companies from lots of other states and countries, so it’s a great opportunity to see fresh faces and shows that are the best of their respective locale.

7. Things will get weird.

Even if you’re a veteran Fringe-goer, you’re definitely in for a quite a few surprises. Last year, I saw a Canadian male burlesque troupe led by a Justin Trudeau impersonator (caution: link NSFW), and it wasn’t even the craziest thing that happened.

The Orlando Fringe Festival runs from May 15th to the 28th, so it’s right around the corner. It’s all happening so fast! But if you’re not hyped yet, maybe you should take a trip to the beer tent.

Cover Image Credit: Orlando Fringe

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