“Last song, make it count,” the lead singer of Every Time I Die, a post-punk hardcore band from Buffalo, NY, warned. I was barely 18 years old, standing inside what once was a church and now (to this day) a music venue in a suburb of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania witnessing them capture something unlike anything I had ever seen at a concert before. And even at that point in my late teens, I was by no means unfamiliar with loud, live rock music. Silence came over the stage and attendees alike. I could almost feel a collective inhale as everyone prepared for them to perform their closing song “Ebolarama”.
“Boys! Shoot to thrill! From the hips!” Keith Buckley, the singer, started to scream as he dripped sweat, spit, and presumably Iron City Light on the stage he was frantically moving across. His vocals timed perfectly along with the start of the drums and heavily distorted guitars. The exhale of the crowd came with an outburst of angst and excitement.
“When in Rome we'll do as the Romans, when in hell we'll do shots at the bar.” Those lyrical one-liners I had come to love were somehow even better live, and I was in a roomful of people that enthusiastically agreed. The groove they found in frantic guitar riffs and brutal rhythms all came together like the most beautiful symphony to the room in front of them, especially in that moment. The floor started to shake to the beat of the song because of everybody jumping in unison as Keith continued with his nihilistic musings.
“Disillusioned and lonelier than the last man standing.” I don't know if I would call “Ebolarama” my favorite Every Time I Die song. I don't know if those one-liners hit me harder than ones from other songs. But I know I had never felt a band harness such intensity like that and ride it off into the sunset.
“This is a rock and roll takeover!” That's exactly what it was. When the musical breakdown that ends the song started, crowd surfing tripled. Mosh pits opened up around me. The drop tuning and minor chords controlled the room. We all participated in creating that chaos, together. The band. The crowd.
“You should have been there by my side.” I can still vividly recall the crowd spending every bit of strength it had left to move along to the deep chugging of guitar that closed the show. The smell of alcohol and body odor that seemingly accumulated throughout the night was now as tired as the moshers.
“Last call. Kill it.” The song ended. The stage lights shut off, and the overhead lights turned on. I felt like I had just been blindsided by a tractor-trailer of raw energy. My body would actually feel that way the next day, too, but my young curiosity for experiencing live music was now reborn as a passion that stays with me to this day.
Chris Tsekouras is a failed overachiever and wage slave living in Eugene, OR. Full of high aspirations but little motivation, Chris spends his days creating meaningless art that get shuffled into notebooks that nobody will ever see, or attempting to play instruments without putting much practice or effort into getting better. He soon will be older, and one day closer to death.