Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: MTVNews

2016: A Year’s Worth of Memories (Loren DiBlasi)

Heartbreaking Bravery recently went offline but all facets of the site are back to being fully operational. Apologies for any inconveniences. All posts that were slated to run during that brief hiatus will appear with this note.

There are not enough kind words to adequately describe how much Loren DiBlasi has meant to this site and its development. One of the people that’s been supportive since the very beginning. she’s been a vital part of every edition of A Year’s Worth of Memories and has been kind enough to deliver another one of this series’ essential pieces. Life-altering experiences, panic attacks, family, self-assessment, and music abound in another burst of admirable sincerity from the Patio bassist/vocalist and MTV News editor. As always, it’s more than worth the read.


Not Getting to the Gig

I remember my first show. It was a “concert,” really, but the concept was the same — I was seeing live music, of my own choosing, for the very first time. October 17, 2005. I was sixteen. Franz Ferdinand headlined the Theater at Madison Square Garden with TV On The Radio and Cut Copy (again, 2005). My birthday was months earlier, but I hadn’t asked for a party. Instead, I waited until my favorite band came to my city, then bullied my mom into driving me and three friends to see them. I wasn’t allowed to take the train into the city alone. And yet, I had never felt more free.

This is it, I remember thinking. I’m going to be part of this. At the time, I didn’t think I’d ever play music. I’m not sure I thought I’d write about it, either. I was sixteen. I just knew that it was mine, and now that I’d found it, no one was ever going to take it away from me. Though tiny from my distant seat, the people onstage were gods, not men. The room was huge but the experience was intimate, because it was all happening to me for the first time.

I remember my first panic attack at a show. July 3, 2015. Pile played the Bell House, and I had postponed my Fourth of July weekend trip in order to see them. I was too wrapped up in self-denial to realize that this show, in particular, was one I shouldn’t have planned to attend. Not because of the band (whom I love and haven’t seen since) but because of other, more personal reasons. My deeply broken, damaged heart — and even more damaged mind — simply wasn’t ready. I made it to the bathroom before realizing I could no longer breathe. It was the single worst night of my life.

So much happened in the ten years between those two nights. I developed my passion for writing and left high school. I moved to the city to attend college, mostly in search of more music. I graduated and didn’t get a job. I moved back home. I took the train back and forth for job interviews and intermittent writing gigs. I wrote art reviews, band profiles, even TV recaps. I got paid for none of it. I kept writing whatever I could until people started noticing. It took a long time, but they finally did.

Eventually I said “fuck it” and moved into the house my family owns in Ridgewood, Queens, which they’d kept and rented after moving out of the city. Growing up, the house in Ridgewood wasn’t where I’d thought I’d end up. To my family, Italian and tenacious, that was the place they’d left in favor of better schools and more square footage, and there was no going back. They wanted me to live in the city, but not in Ridgewood. At 24 and broke, I had no choice.

Little did I realize that Ridgewood was exactly where I wanted to be. In Ridgewood I was a short train ride from Williamsburg, home of Death by Audio, Glasslands, and 285 Kent. I was a seven minute drive from Silent Barn, Palisades, and cult house venue David Blaine’s The Steakhouse. Shea Stadium was nearby, too; I even found an internship at a startup music site on the same block as Shea. I always tell people that my career started at Shea, when Dan Goldin introduced me to Derek Evers of Impose at a Big Ups show. I can trace every word I’ve written since back to that single moment. It was March 21, 2014, three days before I turned 25.

Throughout the next year and beyond, I don’t think I missed one show. Going to the show was my life, and the only life I’d ever wanted. Making actual money — to eat, pay my bills, go to the doctor — would come later, but at the time, I didn’t care. I couldn’t buy anything. I walked most places and I was really skinny. But I was there.

I made so many friends there. Label people, band people, fan people like myself. People started sending me their stuff so I could write about it for whatever small publication or local blog I’d be connected to at the time. If two people read it, I’d done my job. I was so happy. I wanted to be a voice within the community that I was starting to make my own. The fact that I now work for an huge corporation is funny to me, still, which isn’t to say I’m not grateful for MTV News and the people (many of them idols) I work with every day. I take nothing for granted.

I consider these sweaty nights at places like Shea and Death By Audio to be the happiest of my life. I didn’t have much — at least not in comparison to what I have now — but it was the beginning of something magical for me. It was the beginning of the life I’d always wanted.

But this isn’t a happy tale — at least, not entirely. When the show is your life, and then you lose it, you have no life. This is what I thought. This is what I believed. I felt it was my fault. I made myself a victim for a long time, and as a result, I stopped going places entirely. Especially to shows.

To say that this dark period was the result of the dissolution of my relationship with another person is extremely diminishing — that’s where it might have began, but there was so much more in the middle. So much emptiness that I had to claw through, so much aloneness that I had to grapple with and make peace with and explore to find the origin of. Not for a second of last year did I feel “normal,” and yet I was finally experiencing human emotions in a very normal way for the first time. Coming to terms with pain is terrifying and yet entirely necessary if you plan to live a “normal” life. Which I’d always wanted to. I never wanted to give up.

I’ve missed so many shows in the last two years. I still miss so many shows. I can blame my schedule or the demands of Patio or money or whatever else I want, but deep down, I know that I am still very afraid. When your emotions are so deeply tied into everything you do and the places you go, it’s hard to walk into a room where you know you are vulnerable (the anticipation is the worst). SXSW was particularly difficult for me this year, despite the fact that my band hadn’t even released any music and was still invited onto a bill alongside Mitski, Washer, Palm, Kal Marks and Guerilla Toss. I got drunk and shed a lot of tears. I also reconnected with old friends and had one of the best days of my life. I shared a moment of clarity with someone that I’d really needed, despite being afraid of it for so long. Thinking about it still makes me cry but I also think it was so beautiful. That’s how I look at the world now; there is no light or darkness. Everything is grey.

Show anxiety often feels extremely specific, and it wasn’t until I started becoming more vocal about it that I realized others around me had been experiencing it, too. Getting to the gig is supposed to be fun and fulfilling — it was my entire social life — but when it’s not, it sucks worse than anything I’ve ever experienced. But what I’ve learned in the past two years is that sometimes it’s okay to stay home, and that’s nothing to feel guilty or ashamed about. Sometimes you need a night in to relax in a robe watching The Golden Girls and eating delivery nachos (this very scenario is what first inspired the concept of “Luxury” that drove Patio’s first EP). Writing music, reading books, and having dinner with old friends are some other things you can do instead of going to the gig. There are other places than the gig. The gig will always be there.

I’ve accepted that it’s at the gig, surrounded by friends, where I often feel most alone. Even this very moment, as I finish work and get ready to go see Washer, my stomach feels queasy and I can’t help but wish I could just go to sleep early tonight. It’s definitely okay to do that, but this time, I won’t. I know that when I climb the stairs to Shea I’ll be climbing my way to a million friends, and it doesn’t matter who else might be there or what anxieties I might face. Sometimes I go to the show; sometimes I play the show; sometimes I stay home from the show. I’m not sure if that ending is happy or sad. But I think next time Pile plays New York, I’ll be there. 

2015: A Year’s Worth of Memories (Loren DiBlasi)


Now that (an excessively busy) January is a piece of our past and we’ve had ample time to reflect on the events of 2015, it’s time to return to a series that began last year: A Year’s Worth of Memories. Every year, a handful of this site’s favorite people in the worlds of music and film are asked to reflect on the smaller moments that stood out as personal highlights of the preceding year as a more personalized companion piece to the more static run of year-end lists. A long list of potential contributors were asked if they’d be interested in writing a piece and a handful responded in kind, writing beautiful pieces that scratched very personal roots. This year’s first piece comes courtesy of MTVNews editor — and a writer that’s earned bylines at Impose and DIY — Loren DiBlasi (pictured above, playing bass and singing for site favorites Patio), who is one of a handful of contributors returning to A Year’s Worth of Memories. Loren’s remained a constant friend through some harder times and it’s an honor to have her be an ongoing part of the series. Read about what had the most impact on her in 2015 below.



I read Our Band Could Be Your Life ten years ago, when I was sixteen, the year I decided what I wanted to be when I grew up: a music writer. It was the same year I read other books like Legs McNeil’s Please Kill Me, and Simon Reynolds’ Rip It Up And Start Again, and realized, hey, this is a thing that people actually do for a living. As my obsession deepened, I amassed an extensive CD collection that started with post-punk revival bands of the time (Bloc Party, Franz Ferdinand, The Futureheads) and worked its way backwards, all the way from Pixies and Sonic Youth to Joy Division, Buzzcocks, and The Fall.

From sixteen on, I didn’t care about anything. I only cared about music. But I didn’t just want to write about it; I wanted to eat it, sleep it, breathe it, and live it until the day I died.

But I never wanted to play it. I didn’t think I could.

There’s this thing with young girls who love music. Except for a few bands I liked — maybe Yeah Yeah Yeahs and The White Stripes — there weren’t many contemporary female musicians I looked up to. If there was a “girl in a band” — the title of Kim Gordon’s memoir, which I would devour a decade later — she was either “not as good” as her male counterparts (the incessant critiquing of Meg White) or she was the dazzling, charismatic lead singer, a figure far more glamorous than I’d ever imagined myself to be (like Gwen Stefani or Kate Jackson of The Long Blondes).

I fancied myself a nerd, an outsider, a weirdo; at the time, I didn’t know many female musicians who reflected those qualities. An exception might be Eleanor Friedberger of The Fiery Furnaces, but again, she wrote lyrics and sang. I was young, timid, and still developing as a writer, let alone a songwriter (and the idea of singing in front of people was scary). I just didn’t think I had it in me.

When I became obsessed with Talking Heads, I worshiped Tina Weymouth; she was cool, and smart, and different in a way I could relate. She had a boy’s haircut, but she was undeniably feminine: her look was chic and classic, and she wore lots of black. She resembled a miniature version of the supermodel Twiggy. I admired her style and her fearless attitude first; her musicianship later. Stop Making Sense was the first time I really noticed the bass on its own, and the idea of playing it — of being like Tina — intrigued me.

But like I said, there’s this thing with girls who love music. I felt that because I was already sixteen, and had never touched an instrument, that it was too late for me. If I hadn’t shown musical promise by that point, I never would. Plus, what if I was bad? Of course, what’s hilarious is that I had never even tried, and I was already writing myself off as incapable or unworthy; this is a classic teenage girl move. Where boys are encouraged, girls are outsiders in music communities, and it takes a lot of time, effort, and courage to break free of that restrictive, deep-rooted thinking.

(Years later, I learned that Tina Weymouth hadn’t picked up the bass until her 20s, to join the already-formed Talking Heads.)


Maybe I wasn’t ready to try my hand at music as a teenager. But once I had reached my 20s, and had gained endless insight working as a journalist, it was time. Still, the circumstances had to be just right. First, there was the concept: Patio. My band. Grass is Green, Vulture Shit, and Flagland played a show at David Blaine’s, spring 2014. Friends and I joked about how we had wasted our Saturday, which was drinking at bars, on various outside patios. Even Randy of Vulture Shit said he’d done the same.

“Wouldn’t ‘Patio’ be a fucking perfect band name?” I proposed. “Like a group of distraught millennials sitting outside, drinking away their troubles, when in reality their lives are actually fine.”

It was a joke at first, but eventually the name took on greater meaning for me; it represented a deep sense of boredom with my surroundings and an overall dissatisfaction with life, whether that was a spoiled mentality or not.

The first time I actually held a bass, I was in bed with a boy, a bass player. I liked him. He had resolved to give me a lesson, but somehow the idea of him teaching me how to play made me more uncomfortable than whatever we had done together the night before. When I didn’t know how to place my hands, he laughed at me, and that was it. I was done. I didn’t want to try something new in front of him, or anyone that I didn’t trust.

I didn’t like him for very much longer. When I finally found the person I did trust, things moved a lot more quickly (and that person wasn’t a boy).


I met Lindsey-Paige (LP) McCloy through mutual friends later that year, and quickly realized that not only did we talk, act, and dress similarly — something that’s still pointed out to us by friends and strangers alike — but we shared an affinity for everything music- related. The major difference between us was that LP had been playing in bands for years, and I had so much to learn.

Through a combination of weird, serendipitous events — like a sudden breakup that afforded me an abundance of free time, and finding our heroic drummer, Alice Suh — Patio soon evolved from a joke, to a joke band, to an actual band. Immediately, LP and I learned that we worked exceptionally well together; her calm and patience, combined with her talent, is an ideal balance for my rash, dramatic nature. The first song I ever played on bass, per LP’s instruction, was Pavement’s “Cut Your Hair” (ironic because I don’t even like Pavement, but it’s the perfect starter bass line). LP wrote fantastic bass parts to Patio’s first ever song, “Air Japan,” and soon — after lots of practice — I discovered I could write my own parts.

I’ve found that the way I make music is similar to the way I write about it: spontaneous, emotional, and unpredictable. Riffs and melodies seep into my brain while I sleep, or completely unsolicited, a lyric will pop into my head while I’m showering, cooking, or riding the subway. By no means is it an orthodox process, and by no means is it easily replicated. Sometimes I’m happy with the end result — I wrote all the words and parts to my first song, “Baby’s Alright,” while my phone was dying on the M train — and sometimes it’s utter shit. Even when it’s shit, it’s still good. It’s all part of it, even the bad stuff.

There’s nothing I look forward to more than band practice: being trapped in a small, sweaty room with my bandmates. LP has the uncanny ability to translate even my boldest, most bizarre suggestions into actual, cohesive sound, and we’ve collaborated on songs I’m insanely proud of. When my penchant for bleak, dark noise becomes too overwhelming, she cuts me off (or we meet somewhere in the middle, like on the track we’ve semi-jokingly dubbed our “goth country song”). Sometimes I’ll arrive at practice equipped with nothing but a sentence, or I’ll start plucking in a random pattern, and with her guidance, it transforms into something tangible and inspiring. Ours is the healthiest, most meaningful (and longest) relationship I’ve ever had, by far, and for that, I love her to no end.


All this year, I’ve worked tirelessly at not just making Patio better, but making myself better. Often, these efforts have been one in the same. After a rough end to 2014 (one which I so openly, or rather drunkenly, detailed right here), and disappointment after disappointment, my positive outlook began to fade, until I hardly recognized myself anymore.

Suddenly, I didn’t want to do the things I’d always loved to do: write, go to shows, interview bands, see friends. After something traumatic happened at a show involving a person I loved more than anything, I could barely leave my bed, let alone leave my house. For months, I couldn’t sleep. I stopped eating almost entirely. I stopped listening to music. I couldn’t go to a show without having a panic attack, or feel completely crippled with anxiety. And if I couldn’t do the things I had always done — the things I was good at, the things that had helped me make a name for myself within our little Brooklyn community — then who was I?

In 2015 I was split open, and Patio helped me feel whole again. My band has given me something new, something fun, something to look forward to. It’s helped me forge a new identity, but it’s also taught me how to embrace my own life again: the friends who love me, the things that give me purpose. Depression and anxiety are both very real, but it’s important to have an outlet that lessens the burden, whatever it may be. I’m lucky to have found a new one, despite the turmoil of this year.

In many ways, Patio is still a joke, but for me, it’s the realest thing I’ve ever had. We write silly, nonsensical songs about diminutive genitalia (“Microballs” is all Alice’s genius) and call fried chicken sandwiches our boyfriends. And yet, I don’t think I’ve ever cared about anything more in my life. Back in my teens, when I read all those books, I knew that I’d one day be a writer, too — and I’ll never stop working at that — but I never, ever imagined that one day, maybe my own band could exist. Now it does. Whatever we accomplish going forward, that feels real, and it feels fucking good.


-Loren DiBlasi