Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: tour

2015 & 2016: Two Year’s Worth of Memories (Jesse Amesmith)

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.

In the first edition of A Year’s Worth of Memories Green Dreams’ Jesse Amesmith wrote about a show in Rochester that was memorable for all the right reasons (while some of the lead-up was needlessly tense). In 2015, Amesmith turned in a piece about confronting thoughts of inadequacy just after the last chapter of that edition had been posted. As an amendment, that post will run alongside Amesmith’s piece for 2016, a brief summary of stray thoughts that had accumulated over the course of Green Dreams’ summer tour. Both are teeming with insight, heart, and humanity. Amesmith continues to be inspiring at every turn and having her as a consistent part of this series, as always, is nothing short of a privilege.

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2015

Some years are exciting, and others are transitory, a build up to potential future excitement. For me, 2015 was a year of setting up dominoes… quietly and carefully aligning the pieces for their future fall. The older I get the less time makes sense, and the more I am able to make sense of it by just staying in the current moment. Do you ever feel like there was so much that happened that nothing at all did? I opened a yoga studio with my mom, Green Dreams wrote and recorded an album I’m very proud of (look for it on Honor Press this summer), I made art that excites me, we got a new bass player, I spent time with friends and family… and I punched a heckler in the face during a set we played in April.

The latter left me a vacillating mess of anxiety & depression. The trauma of being assaulted at a show in a small town and being gossiped about and degraded publicly dredged up a lot of old bullshit leftover from my teenage years, reinforced by a cultural climate that wants to silence my dissonance. I don’t even want to talk about it most times, because talking about it gives the situation and the people who came after me power, or maybe because I’m afraid that it will bring unwanted attention from these men and others who would rather tell me all the reasons it was my fault instead of holding one of their own accountable.

At what point does personal safety  and peace of mind intersect with standing up for what you know is right? What you believe in your heart? Is it worth wading through the muck? Is it worth having mud smeared in your face and hair, only to be criticized for getting dirty in the swamp? What even is this metaphor? Welcome to my brain this past year. It’s been rough.

When so many more good things happened to me last year by comparison, why is this awful memory taking up so much space in my brain? Smeared over top of everything I have accomplished is this thick layer of shame. The Shame tells me that talking about the good things isn’t truthful, or worthwhile, because nothing I do ever feels like enough. It tells me that the bad things need to be kept QUIET! “Nobody wants to hear about YOU”, The Shame hisses. The voice inside constantly tells me these terrible lies we all tell ourselves. On it’s best days it sounds like my abusers and detractors, on it’s worst days the voice is my own.

It’s not enough to have a supportive partner, to sign with a label, to have your dream career and lifestyle. Be thinner. Be nicer. Be more agreeable. Be sexy. Be demure. Be younger. Be any way other than how you are right now. You know what though? Even if I could be all of those things it STILL wouldn’t be enough. The voice is insatiable. It’s not sustainable. 2015 was a year that I stopped trusting that voice, and started to question it’s motives. That isn’t me. My eating disorder isn’t me. The me you see isn’t me. The me I see on my worst days isn’t me. It isn’t you, either. We are not these things. We are not our Shame and Doubt. We exist beyond the confines of our bodies, society, space and time.

My heart breaks over and over and over again when that voice repeats that None of It is Enough. For myself, for this world, for everyone who feels like I do. I feel like none of my accomplishments matter if I don’t look a certain way, or act a certain way, like the more I do the longer that list of expectations becomes. I’m trying to shake these feelings and learn to love myself more every day, even if that means a year of wading through the muck. It’s fucking hard.

More and more I am learning that the only thing we can do to stand up against the oppression of the world around us is to soften. To those who love us, to those who oppose us, and most of all to ourselves. 2015 was a year of intense vulnerability, a year where I embraced the idea that to move on I have to really let go. I hope talking about these things reminds you that you’re not alone, that we all struggle with what it means to be us in this world. Keep being you, I’m gonna keep being me. I am enough, and so are you.


2016

My favorite part of 2016 was probably our summer tour. People we met on the road were still optimistic about the fall & the future, and my own life was on a roll; I was about to turn 30, my band was finishing up a record, my business was starting to happen, and it was warm & sunny. We swam as often as we could, and made sure to eat lots of greens, fresh fruit, and drank enough water. We told each other when we needed space, and held each other when we were tired or needed a cry. The folks we stayed with took excellent care of us, and old & new friendships were forged and cared for.

In a lot of ways this trip represented our idealized world… one where we can still afford to drive large heavy vehicles around the country to hopefully play for enough to get to the next place, where we can forgive each other for times we were young or careless, or selfish. A summertime world where there IS enough when we lean in and look for it… but the brightest sun casts the darkest shadows. More than one place we stopped for gas was hurried through, trying to keep quiet & unobtrusive… respectful muppets in the sea of travelers & passersby.

I think a lot about the people that live in these small places, how much they must hurt too, and love too, and get swept away in the sea of the mind, too. This trip, in hindsight, offers the gift of perspective. People who keep hidden away in their own dark corner of the world will only have the perspective from which they sit, and that part of the unlearning of what has happened culturally this year we need to get out of our own bubbles and into new places, expanding our view of the world.

It becomes much harder to hate when you’ve seen more of the world. People are people everywhere you go. For better or worse, the more different we are the more glaring our similarities become. I think most people just want to be heard, ya know? In 2016 I learned that more than ever I need to stop being ruled my ego and what chains me to my idea of myself. All we can do is take care of each other and the world around us. The first step is stepping out of your dark corner, and into the sun.

We’re all just meat skeletons tethered to a floating rock, and I love you. Here are some photos from the Green Dreams Summer Tour 2016, I hope they feel warm to look at, and remind you of what it’s like to go new places and experience new things. Here’s to more of that, this year. ❤

2016: A Year’s Worth of Memories (Erica Sutherland)

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.

Littlefoot has earned consistent mentions on this site ever since their set at DBTS acted as an overdue introduction. Over that time, I’ve been fortunate enough to get to know Erica Sutherland a little better, whose constantly involved in any number of fascinating projects. Sutherland graciously agreed to be a part of this edition of A Year’s Worth of Memories and offered up a beautiful photojournal chronicling a fateful 2016 trip that had a finale that was a little terrifying before it became necessarily heartening. Take in the sights (and accompanying memories) below.

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At the beginning of 2016, I flew to California to escape the harsh Boston winter and go on my first solo tour. After a stressful fall and an even more stressful week, I was ready to get away for a while. It was my first time seeing most of the west coast, and I was about to be traveling with two of the most easygoing people I’ve ever met. Scott, my photographer friend from Providence, works long hours at a pizza shop so he can save up money to travel.

I’m always impressed by Scott, because along with being a dreamer, he gets things done. He doesn’t just talk about things like going on a trip to Spain with a bunch of his friends to take photos, he actually does it. Miles, whose project, California Redemption Value, I was touring with, never seems bothered or stressed out by anything. He just kind of floats. He has a mysterious accent that has a little bit of a southern twang to it, even though he grew up in California.

When I started writing this, it became a detailed account of everything we saw, everyone we met, and all the bands we played with. For the sake of anyone with a short attention span (myself included), I’m just going to write my favorite moments as a list.


THE DRIVE

Everything along route 1 // listening to Mississippi Mixtapes // stopping in Eureka, CA and finding an abandoned train car // running around on a foggy beach at sunset, somewhere in Northern California // driving through all of the wide open spaces, the kind you don’t see back east // reading Stevie Nicks’ biography // many many trips to In-N-Out Burger

LOS ANGELES

Staying with Kaede, Jason & Lucy (three of my favorite humans) & their dog Monkey (one of my favorite non-humans) by the beach in Corona del Mar // meeting up with our pals Ian Sweet to play a show at a bowling alley // watching Nicey Music’s pop princess Banny Grove cut a rug on stage while wearing an amazing wig // window shopping on Rodeo Drive pretending I’m Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman // playing a show at Gnarburger with Shannon from Feels // being in the audience on the Conan O’Brien show


PORTLAND

Mississippi Records // playing with Haste and Brumes (she plays an electric harp!!!) // getting a big hug from my long lost pal Chip King // hanging out with Ty Segall & the Muggers (Miles’ friend Garth who we were staying with was opening for them) // Powell’s Bookstore


OLYMPIA

Skrill Meadow’s karaoke-style set // lots and lots of coffee // meeting Phoebe from Tiny Thunder Jewelry // our new friend Opio (same birthday as me!! same year!!) // meeting all of Miles’ old friends



SEATTLE

Playing with CAMP and Night Cadet // staying with Jenn Champion and her cute dogs // picking the nose of the Fremont Troll // octopuses on ice at Pike’s Market // riding the ferris wheel with Scott // taking a day off to explore Snoqualmie, the filming location of Twin Peaks >> the waterfall at the Great Northern, coffee and cherry pie at the diner, Ronette’s bridge




OAKLAND

Playing with Peacers and the Moonsaults! // exploring BIG SUR, the most magical place on earth, before the show


SAN DIEGO

Playing with Fake Tides & Big Bloom (& Miles at all of these shows – I never get tired of listening to CRV) // and what followed:

My memory of what happened after our last show in San Diego is a little fuzzy. I woke up back in LA with a fierce hangover and a Facebook message from a stranger that said “Did you lose something?” It was only then that I realized at some point during the night I’d lost my backpack, which contained my wallet, passport, medicines etc… basically my entire life. The woman who’d messaged me said her mother had found the backpack and asked her daughter to find me on Facebook to tell me, since she didn’t speak much English herself.

Miles and I drove back to San Diego, arriving at a tiny house where we were met by two elderly Mexican women and my backpack. I thanked them profusely in English while they spoke to me in Spanish, their hands gesturing in a manner that I assumed meant they were talking about how they found my backpack. The fact that a complete stranger cared enough to go out of their way to help me get my things back gave me that warm-fuzzy-“oh good, I still have faith in humanity” kind of feeling. I texted her daughter afterwards to thank her for getting in touch with me, and she responded, We’re all put on this Earth to help each other.

A year later, with the Trump administration rearing its ugly head, her words are more important than ever.

All photographs by Scott LaChapelle.

Young Jesus – Holy Ghost (Music Video Premiere)

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Several months ago, this site offered up the premiere of the album teaser for Young Jesus’ outstanding Grow/Decompose, which remains one of this year’s finest releases. Now that the record’s out in the world and the band’s about to go on tour in support of Grow/Decompose, they’ve sent another item through the pipeline: the compelling animated video for “Holy Ghost”.

Once again, the direction and art comes courtesy of Young Jesus’ guitarist/vocalist (and principal songwriter) John Rossiter, who continues to impress with an ever-evolving collage of artistic mediums, all held within one frame as the irrepressible energy of “Holy Ghost” pushes the art to its furthest corners. It’s a staggering reminder of the band’s formidable talent, which remains largely overlooked. However, the band’s ready to combat that with some additional firepower that’s arrived in the form of their new label, Gigantic Noise, which will be reissuing Grow/Decompose on vinyl in early 2016.

With the impending reissue, approaching year-end lists, and the band’s gripping live show all factoring into the mix, Young Jesus seems set for a very promising year. They’re fully capable of infusing every facet of their band with the artistry that permeates “Holy Ghost”, making them one of music’s best-kept secrets. Don’t miss out on the reissue, this video, or any of the band’s upcoming tour dates, which can be found below the video.

Watch “Holy Ghost” below and pick up a copy of Grow/Decompose here.

10/26 | Billings, MT @ Railyard Ale House
10/27 | Salt Lake City, UT @ Diabolical Records
10/28 | Denver, CO @ SC Music Collective
10/30 | Lawrence, KS @ Replay Lounge
10/31 | Maquoketa, IA @ Codfish Hollow Barnstormers (w Nathaniel Rateliff, The Night Sweats)
11/01 | Madison, WI @ Mickey’s (w/ The Ferns)
11/02 | Milwaukee, WI @ TBA
11/04 | Chicago, IL @ Township
11/06 | Chicago, IL @ Club Soda
11/07 | Memphis, TN @ P+H Cafe (w/ Terry Prince and The Principles)
11/08 | Nashville, TN @ Exponent Manor
11/09 | Chattanooga, TN @ JJ’s Bohemia (w/ Elk Milk)
11/10 | New Orleans, LA @ Dragon’s Den (w/ Sharks’ Teeth, High)
11/12 | Lafayette, LA @ Wild Salmon (w/ NEAT)
11/13 | Houston, TX @ TBA (w/ Belvoir)
11/14 | Austin, TX @ Cheer Up Charlies
11/15 | Denton, TX @ Lion’s Den
11/17 | Tucson, AZ @ Gary’s Place
11/18 | Corona, CA @ TBA

Nervosas at Center Street Free Space and Quarters Rock N Roll Palace – 3/1/14 (Live Review)

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On March 1, 2014, the entirety of Milwaukee was emitting a low hum- the result of hundreds of amps coming to life. There was the East Side Music Festival, which stood as a celebration of local music (Heartbreaking Bravery favorites The Sleepwalkers, Midnight Reruns, and The Midwestern Charm were all well represented), that spanned several participating venues and featured headlining sets from Why? and POS. Beach Patrol, Jake Simmons, and Tim Schweiger & the Middlemen were the bands making up a stellar bill over at Bremen Cafe, outside of the fest. Another non-fest show that was likely worth seeing had Ringo Deathstarr headlining Mad Planet. There was a show in seemingly every venue in the city- and Nervosas played two of them.

First up was a show in the basement of DIY library collective Center Street Free Space alongside Strange Matter and Crowdpleaser. After having some trouble with a faulty mic stand that essentially just gave out before Strange Matter began (both a cinder block and a weighted bucket were used as position anchors) the show started with an incredibly impressive set from Milwaukee hardcore veterans Strange Matter. After a few lineup changes and toting a new 7″, ennui actuation dissolver, the band was in fine form throughout a rapid-fire set. Blending all kinds of influences into a fairly original sound that leans heavily on hardcore, Strange Matter have built a strong reputation for themselves by virtue of their releases. If this show was any indication, though, their live show may have surpassed their recorded output in terms of quality- and that’s saying something.

Next to bat was Crowdpleaser, another Milwaukee band toying with genre limitations in slightly unexpected ways. Pushing their volumes to dangerous heights, the band played passionately and were genuinely excited to be sharing a bill with Nervosas. Their excitement was even more justified by the similarities between the two bands. Both Crowdpleaser and Nervosas share a similarly-mined strand of goth-punk that a lot of today’s bands can’t claim. There’s also a peculiar restlessness to be found in both bands’ music. Neither band is afraid of the unsparingly bleak, either. While there are more than a few differences between Crowdpleaser and Nervosas, and while there were a fair amount of technical difficulties, Crowdpleaser’s set felt like a completely natural precursor for the perpetually anxious Nervosas.

When Nervosas finally took over they did it with a manic determination that made their set one of the most cathartic experiences imaginable. Truly looking like that went both ways (band and audience feeding into each other on a barely-controlled loop) they grew progressively more intense as the set went on. Afterwards guitarist, Mickey, would reveal that she was trying to frantically keep up with the rest of her band who purportedly never play that fast. Whether that was a false claim is anyone’s best guess but at various points throughout the set, their drummer, Nick, would lose time and recover quickly with well-timed blast beats. All the while Jeff (their bassist and vocalist) would be careening through songs from the few outstanding releases they have so far, completely caught up in the moment. The only times the weirdly hypnotic and utterly dark spell was broken came when one of them would let the song get away from them (though they all recovered incredibly quickly) and not be able to help a smile. It’s impossible to gauge how long their set was as everyone was completely caught up in the moment, watching the band teeter on the edge of total collapse and reign things in at all the right moments. Making this even more memorable was the low turnout rate for the show- the benefit being that everyone who was there clearly cared enough to make sure that they were there so they could shout along “APAB” at all the right moments and support a band they loved. By the time the band finished tearing through a particularly rousing take on “Poison Ivy” nearly everyone that was present had likely already made up their minds to make their way over to the late show to see them again.

Between the end of the Free Space show and the start of the show at Quarters, a stop was made at Bremen Cafe in hopes to catch one of the three bands playing that night- while that proved to be an impossibility it’s worth noting that Jake Simmons,  Tim Schweiger & the Middlemen, and Beach Patrol all come very highly recommended and wouldn’t have been missed any other night. By the time the short walk to Quarters was made, feedback was already ringing throughout the venue, a half circle had been formed in front of the stage, and Midwives were about to go off. Having just seen Midwives member Graham Hunt lead Midnight Reruns through another energetic set just a week prior it was nice to see him fully embracing the role of a hardcore guitarist, while it was nice to see Sahan Jayasuriya back behind a kit for a band he believes in. Both of them need the band for different reasons; for Hunt it’s the ability to cut loose and be as grimy as possible, something that fronting Midnight Reruns doesn’t afford him- and for Jayasuriya it’s both the advantage of input into creative control and the sense of connection that comes with being part of something from the ground up, instead of coming into the fold late (something he’s experienced surprisingly often).

It was evident throughout Midwives’ set how badly those points counted for them as they poured their fucking hearts into their set by attacking their instruments with the kind of brute force only found in the best hardcore bands. As both Hunt and Jayasuriya lost their respective minds on their instruments, their vocalist was stalking the hell out of the open space in front of the stage shouting for all his worth and their bassist kept everything in check by holding down his parts while furiously nodding his head along. Ripping through the songs from their vicious debut 7″ (they used the night to celebrate its physical release) and a whole lot of new songs (many of which will be appearing on the LP they’ll be recording this week), it started to feel like the band announcing a bigger kind of arrival. While their studio work is already enormously impressive (despite being only four songs), this is the kind of band that lives for a live setting- they didn’t disappoint and hopefully won’t be disappearing anytime soon.

After quite a bit of set up, take-down, and tuning, Technicolor Teeth turned up their amps to typically deafening volumes and greeted the audience with their shoegaze-heavy nightmare pop. Ever since first seeing this band a few years back and watching them evolve, it’s been clear that they’ve tapped into something inherently special. As they’ve progressed they’ve toyed with the boundaries of genre and exploited the buried aspects of a few different styles rather than settling for something as simple as revivalism. They’re pushing things in new and intriguing directions; finding a home in what was once considered a dormant style and looking forward instead of traveling back. Easily the night’s longest set, they nonetheless were as captivating as usual and likely won over anyone they hadn’t. While their set seemed to be heavy on newer material, it all clicked and felt coherent enough to keep the audience interested despite being a band who’s prone to playing up a drowsy-high aesthetic. There were a few blinding flashes of energy that helped push that along and as a collective unit, the band played close to flawlessly, wrapped up in a weird kind of power approach. A large part of the credit for this is likely due to drummer Amos Pitsch (who uses his time outside of the band to do things like front Tenement) who continues to operate on an almost obscene level of musicality (so much so that it prompted a well-intentioned and sarcastic “Thanks for drumming before me, Amos. That sucked.” from Nick) and provides the band with a considerable punch. In any case, Technicolor Teeth played like they meant it and is a must-catch prospect- they’ll be playing the Accidental Guest Recordings showcase at SXSW, don’t miss it.

After Technicolor Teeth wrapped up and everyone assessed their levels of hearing damage, Nervosas set back up for a final run. Only this time, it wasn’t to 15 people- it was to a packed bar that was threatening to close in on max capacity. As a result, the energy level of the decidedly frenetic show at Free Space somehow got kicked up a few more levels. This time, the audience wound up begging the band for an encore that they never got; and that was alright- Nervosas seemingly left every inch of themselves on that stage. Absolutely ripping through highlights from their best-of-decade worthy self-titled like “Less Than Human”, “Viva Viva”, “Extinct Species”, “Waste of Time”, and (once again) “Stellarcore”, “Poison Ivy” and “APAB” along with some deeper cuts like Rev 45 lead-off track “Junky”. All of this was performed as wild-eyed as possible, with each member being almost inhumanly committed to delivering their songs at maximum levels of impact. None of the three could stay still even between songs, feet tapping and bodies swaying back and forth, anxious to jump into whatever was next. During the songs, that restlessness was even more present as the band would literally throw themselves from side to side (and into the walls on more than one occasion), while attempting to keep themselves in control of the music. Their levels of success on these levels were improbable, as all of the things apart from the audience size were both duplicated and maximized from their set just a few hours before. By the time the calls for an encore were hitting their peak, the band was onstage, packing up, absolutely spent. They’d made their mark and knew their was nothing left to possibly be given.

As the show turned into an afterparty with the assistance of Rio Turbo, friends old and new caught up, got drinks, and found their way into dances, conversations, and the streets. Everyone buzzing on the adrenaline high that accompanies the truly great shows. Everyone that played caught up with each other and their admirers, gave their thanks to each, and bought or traded merch before heading off. Now that all the smoke’s cleared, all that’s left to do is keep both eyes peeled for the next time Nervosas show up- because if these shows were any indication, this is a band that should never be missed.

A few photographs from the shows can be found below.

Mozes and the Firstborn – Skinny Girl (Music Video)

An official vinyl LP release (via Burger Records) for Mozes and the Firstborn’s pretty extraordinary self-titled debut was announced today. The band (and record) have come up on this site a few times before and it’s received an ample amount of playing time throughout the last several months, so this is welcome news. In addition to the announcement, the band offered up a wistful and simplistic music video for their jangly acoustic number “Skinny Girl”. The music video is nothing more than frontman Melle Dielesen strumming the song along while walking very slowly but it’s surprisingly effective. Done in collaboration with Jeroen Dankers, it should help increase the young Dutch band’s profile and visibility before they start their US tour with Burger affiliates together PANGEA. Don’t miss it. Watch “Skinny Girl” below.