In December 2016 I received a text from a friend asking me if I was going to see The Menzingers in Brooklyn. “Nope,” I shot back. For me, The Menzingers were a band I had seen a handful of times in the past who failed to grab me both at a gig and at home when I checked out their music. Just couldn’t get into it. Whatever.
The next day he texted me again, and mentioned his excitement that they filmed the music video for their new song “Lookers”. He was, like, really excited about this. So I figured, what the hell, and pulled up this song on Spotify. And then I began to slip and spiral. Suddenly I was listening to this song on repeat, every day. What really pulled me in were the references to On The Road, because I adore that book.
Later in December, my other friend made me crash course playlist. She also told me The Menzingers were playing acoustic in Philadelphia in January, and that we were going. I had two weeks to learn lyrics to more than one song. I met her after I got out of class, and she got out of work, and we grabbed an Amtrak down to Philly from Manhattan. We, of course, felt like “little Keruoac’s, always running like Dean and Sal…”.
Our friend from Philly picked us up at 30th Street Station, and we headed over to the Boot and Saddle. The show was a benefit, and three out of the four members were performing. It was a short set, but perfect for me as I still only knew half of what they played. When they played “Lookers” we, understandably, lost our shit. After the show we booked it back to NYC on the train, getting in around 2 am. Exhausted, but elated. I had fully caught Menzingers fever now. I got it finally. It was time to dig deeper.
They put up a limited edition dog t-shirt, and of course I had to order it for Davey (above). I still don’t have any wearable merch myself, but at least my dog is punk as fuck – right? The Menzingers had a new album coming out in the beginning of February, After The Party. “Lookers” was on it, along with “After The Party” and “Bad Catholics” – two additional teaser songs. The more they released, the more I *needed* this album. They announced they would be doing an acoustic session and signing at my “local” record store, Looney Tunes in West Babylon, so I made sure I’d be there. It was great, as not only did I get After The Party on CD and vinyl, but they also gave everyone a “Lookers” 7″. I was over the moon!
The next Menzingers event I had coming up, following the in-store, was their big headline tour with Jeff Rosenstock at the end of March at Irving Plaza. I had originally bought tickets for this tour *just* for Jeff, but now I was ready to be emotionally compromised by both bands. The show was great, because so many friends were there that no matter where I went in the crowd there was a person to hug and sing along with. It was such a life-affirming gig. Both played every song I wanted to hear, and I got to scream really loud while standing next to some of my favorite people. I fully expected to lose my voice that night, and somehow I didn’t. I suspect these bands may be magic.
Now I’m counting down till I can see the Menzingers again in June, on a boat! That will be amazing.
Three and a half months is all it took for me to go from completely indifferent to chomping at the bit as I count down the days until my next time seeing them live. All it took was the right song, mentioned at the right time, apparently. Following “Lookers”, I fell hard for the rest of After The Party. That opened up their back discography for me, now enjoying the songs I just shrugged off in the past. I am sucker for good lyrics, and maybe I just wasn’t in the right place for them before, but now I was, and it felt like nearly every song was autobiographical. It’s because of that feeling and the relationship I had formed with the music that made seeing them live so special. Screaming along to “Rodent”, “Good Things”, or “In Remission” became catharsis. The tweet below is kinda sorta a joke my friend made, but it’s also low-key true as hell.
pro tip: Instead of paying for therapy, go to a @themenzingers show & sing “I will fuck this up, I fucking know it” at the top of your lungs
— Hindi Kornbluth (@Hindividual) March 31, 2017
The other reason I fell in love with them? My friends. My friends got me there by talking to me about them, and then quite literally being like “I see you’re listening to The Menzingers now – cool I have a spare ticket to see them in Philly and you’re coming with me.” They’re half the reason that gig at Irving Plaza was so incredible.
Music and friends. Where would I be in this life without them? (Not listening to The Menzingers, is the moral of this story)