One summer when I was 14, I boarded my favorite band's tour bus two nights in a row.
After concerts in New Jersey and New York City, my friend Mackenzie and I followed them to the bus where they played some music, hung out with us, took pictures with us, and got the chance to unwind after a show. At the time, it was undeniably the best thing that ever happened to me. And the obsession with this band continued.
Last week, pop band Before You Exit released their latest single "Strangers," and a million memories came rushing back to me. Almost all of my time in high school was spent planning my time around the boys in this band and bands just like it. I thought of endless concerts, waiting in line for hours to meet members, bus parties, Twitter interactions, driving for hours sometimes to get to shows, and most importantly, starting a YouTube channel with my friends so we would have the chance to conduct interviews.
I was the ultimate fangirl. There was no question.
From 2013-2015, a baby-faced version of myself, with braces I might add, was the quintessential ardent admirer of these boys. Here's a picture of me with Before You Exit in May 2013, just so you get a nice visual.
These are the tales of a high school fangirl.
The first time I went to a Before You Exit show, it was an accident. I was being dragged to The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, NJ to see a local band open up for a plethora of others. I bought a $12 ticket and Googled a few of the bands who were also scheduled to play that night. Coming across Before You Exit’s YouTube channel, I started to get excited to see them. The three brothers, Connor , Riley , and Toby McDonough, conjured up all my Jonas Brothers nostalgia. They were teenage boys with cute faces and talent! And the youngest one, Toby, was my age!
The day of the show I lined up outside the venue with my friends and some band members passed by us, making conversation with fans in the line. At this point in my life, the only band I had ever loved was One Direction. And Lord knows I will never be able to hang out with One Direction before a show outside the venue. So when Toby McDonough passed by us in line and said hi, I was freaking out. Little did I know in 5 months or so I would be laughing at him and calling him a dork on their tour bus.
The time I literally created a YouTube channel, blog, and professional email account with my friends Molly and Mackenzie so we could interview them at a benefit concert. We had no idea what we were doing but it was so fun. It was also a Halloween themed concert, so yes, I am dressed up in a Supergirl costume. Watch the video if you dare…
And the times we boarded the bus and got to hang out with them. I remember the candy drawer so specifically. Under the seats of one of the couches on the bus, a drawer pulled out to reveal all the candy their fans brought them on tour. Riley passed around Sour Patch Kids and I asked him to pick me out a red one because those were the only ones that I liked. He looked at me like I was absolutely crazy, and laughed. “You’re serious?” he asked. “Dead serious,” I replied. And he gave me a red one.
The little moments like that which I got to share with the members of these bands made every experience I had with them so special. Some may find it funny, but I still cherish these memories and the brief intimacies because I’m so grateful they made time to do that sort of thing with their fans.
It didn't even stop at Before You Exit. I was obsessed with every band that I saw or knew of as a result of them. Paradise Fears, Allstar Weekend Hollywood Ending, Action Item, and more. It was like an infection, except I didn't want to make it go away. I attended 13 concerts in 2013, at least one every month. It was the absurdity of it all that I thrived off of.
I love looking at the pictures, even though my face is cringe-worthy. I love thinking about all the memories because I know that my time wasn’t wasted. I’ll never regret it. And I’ll still buy Strangers on iTunes. You should, too.