A week or so ago, a buddy of mine asked if I wanted to catch Speak Low if You Speak Love, a side project of Ryan Scott Graham, at Brighton Bar on Saturday. Of course I wanted to go. That’s kinda the whole point of what we’re doing here, right? But still, I had to laugh when he asked me. The two of us had seen Graham’s other band, State Champs, about a year ago when they opened for Wonder Years and Motion City Soundtrack on Black Friday at Starland, and that night ended with a fist fight on the shoulder of Rt. 35 at 2am, so I was really hoping this show would go differently.
I spent some time this week listening to Speak Low’s album, Everything But What You Need, which is great in that “I wasn’t sad a minute ago, but now I’m overwhelmed with doubt that I’ll ever be able to move on from the crippling amount of regret in my life” kind of way. You know, if you’re into that kind of thing. The album is very mellow, without all the screaming, whining, and crying that is typical of most emo music. It’s more intimate and personal. Hearing and comprehending the lyrics is prioritized over having wailing guitars and moshable breakdowns. You’re supposed to listen to this album alone on late-night, introspective car rides and connect with Ryan when he sings “I don’t know anything about anything anymore” and just kind of feel feelings that you never talk to anyone about because it’s an emotionally healthy practice to just bottle this shit up deep down inside.
Speak Low was touring with Homesafe and Let It Happen, who are both more traditional, rocking, elbowing-strangers-in-the-teeth emo band and both put on a great show. However, the bar was opened up to all ages, and as an old, washed up, past his prime twenty-six-year-old, it really bothered me to watch myself slowly become the weird old dude that still doesn’t really understand what “fleek” means.
When Speak Low took the stage, I was surprised to see that they were a five-piece band: drums, bass, and three guitars. I hadn’t looked into it before, but just listening to the album, they sounded much smaller. The set was pretty good, and I say that with confidence because the children, like, totes hella fuckin’ loved it, so I know it must’ve been good. Despite the bigger, louder sound of a live band with three guitars, the music still had that intimate feel to it and Graham thrived in connecting to the audience.
Fortunately for me, the night did not end with another fight on the side of a state highway, but instead with a trip to Jr.’s, which is my favorite late night, greasy, unhealthy food stop in Long Branch, where we sat bullshitting about the bands and the show and State Champs and getting older and how we were fucking jerkoffs the year before, acting more immature than those sixteen-year-olds at the show that night. Now I’m the weird old guy at the show, but at least I’m starting to act like it.
Adam gave man-birth to N.J. Racket and is as close to an "editor-in-chief" the site has. He's a god awful photographer.
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