My older brother’s friends have a band. Of course they do. Everyone’s older brother’s friends have a band. But it just so happens that my big brub’s college roommates opened for a band called Thursday while they were in college. The lead singer, Geoff Rickly, was impressed with them and introduced them to a friend, who happened to run Eyeball Records. So began the journey of Murder By Death, a rock band that’s still touring and releasing albums today. And so began my brief time as a groupie.
Just like every teen movie you’ve ever rolled your eyes at, my brother’s college friends would stay at our house whenever they were touring and needed a place to crash. It got so comfortable that the lead singer and his girlfriend spent a memorable Thanksgiving teaching my mom how to make a tofurkey on Thanksgiving. Adorable, right? And just like every high school girl that ever existed, I thought these older, mysterious musicians were the coolest beings on the planet. Even the female member of the band was hot. Actually, she still is.
So began my fan-girl-dom.
I can still remember the first time that my brother finally agreed to take me to one of Murder of Death’s concerts. I can remember driving down to Indianapolis, the completely hysterical bass player riding in the car with my friend and I, and pulling up to the venue. There was a line of fans waiting around outside. After all, they were playing pretty close to their hometown of Bloomington. These were people who knew every line of every song. And I got to walk in front of all of them and say that my name was on the list. There isn’t a high school girl alive who wouldn’t think that was amazing.
That first concert was only the beginning. For the next couple years, whenever my current location and the band’s tour dates crossed paths, I took the opportunity to get free tickets and free booze at every performance. It’s possible that I helped our paths cross on a couple occasions. I waltzed past lines of paying customers and smiles as a stupid paper wristband was slapped on my arm. I sent emails to a couple of the band members. Generally, I enjoyed feeling like I was somehow special enough to be attached to a rock band.
We spent one very memorable night in Des Moines, Iowa getting completely drunk in a random bar that I never visited again. I walked back to the green room that was actually a dingy basement and sat around for hours chatting up random band members. I’m sure I made vague and ridiculous references to Almost Famous. I called my brother a couple times during the show, who I’m pretty sure put every single guy in the band on alert that they were simply to make sure that I got home safely and never, ever touch me. Older brothers are funny that way.
It would be super fun to tell you all that I had an illicit night with one of the guys. It would also be a complete lie. They’re serious gentlemen. But I did have an amazing time feeling special and hanging out with pretty cool people. I sat around with the band tour manager while they played their set and helped sell merch when the guys were packing up equipment. I was gifted numerous t-shirts and CD’s, absolutely all of which I still have. I can still sing every word to my all-time favorite song they play, “Until Morale Improves, The Beatings Will Continue.” If I remember right, I demanded that the band dedicate the song to me more than once. And they did it. Or at least they pointed and smiled at me singing along loudly in the crowd. This is the stuff young girl’s dreams are made of.
I’m not sure if I can actually call myself a groupie if I didn’t actually sleep with anyone in the band, but I do anyways. I tracked these guys down and showed up expecting free access and booze at their shows. And I felt super awesome doing it. I suppose it only speaks to their friendship with my brother that they placated me.
The very funniest part of this story? My brother has actually managed tours for Murder By Death since then, along with numerous other bands. I have every opportunity to meet plenty of other artists. Sometimes they have even shows in or close to Fort Wayne, but I don’t show up trying to reclaim my groupie position. For one thing, the band never starts playing until 11pm and I’m normally in bed by then. For another, finding a babysitter who can stay past midnight is seriously difficult. I’m sure the band misses my presence, but as a married mom, I feel like I’ve kind of moved on.
A while ago, my brother accused me of having a crush on a certain member of the band all those years ago. (By the way, it was like 6 years ago, not 30. I just happen to feel older than I am.) I vehemently denied it. I was completely lying. Of course I had a freaking crush on one of the band members. I challenge every straight woman out there to stand in the audience while an awesome musician plays great music and not feel a certain tell-tale twinge. It is not possible! Am I going to admit which band member? Of course not, because I happen to know that they will sit around for a couple hours next weekend in Chicago debating it. And it will drive my brother completely insane. Sorry Nicky!
I suppose it would be apt for me to say that it really was the music that made me love these guys and enjoy their shows so much. That would be a total lie. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy their music. My 4-year-old can sing some of the cleaner songs, I obviously still listen to it. But the truth is that it felt really awesome to be so special and cool. It’s a feeling that I had never had before or felt since. There is something amazing about feeling connected to people that lots of other people adore from a distance. I guess this means that I would be a really horrible friend to a celebrity because I would only like their popularity. I don’t know if I can successfully deny that.
Did I learn anything from my time as a groupie? Um, musicians are fundamentally attractive. Like, it’s just a very core part of being a performer. And young girls REALLY like to feel cool. I suppose those aren’t really life lessons or anything. But honestly, what is there to learn from being a fangirl? I guess the only thing left to say is that still water runs deep.