Monday, March 2, 2015

Memorial Monday

Today's Memorial Monday is a special, tearful farewell to a band that has been a leader in the South Bend pop-punk scene for the better part of six years. They've played every church basement, secondhand clothing store, and dive bar within 100 miles of their humble hometown, not to mention a number of stages along the east coast. And besides that, these dudes are some of my oldest friends.

Shortly after graduating high school, I was driving my relatively dilapidated 1998 Ford Escort with my good friend Jake Hueni riding in the passenger seat. I don't remember where we were going or what we were doing, but I remember our conversation. The Escort was about three feet wide and its close quarters were the venue for lots of memorable conversations. Whether this was because the closeness inspired more intimate and emotional topics, or because you could always clearly smell the last thing your passenger had eaten lingering on their breath, I don't really know.

Anyway, on this day, Jake took the opportunity to confide in me some thoughts that it was clear he had pondered for some time, but was just beginning to get comfortable with.

"Dude, I think I might be done with Poets and Posterboys," he started.

Poets and Posterboys had been the band that Jake had been in for three of the four years he had been in high school and the band was composed entirely of our very good friends, so I was surprised to hear him say this. I thought maybe he was looking for some reassurance that what the band had been doing was worth his time, so I offered him some comforting words, but he clearly wasn't seeking coddling.

"I'm actually thinking of joining another band. I've been talking to this guy who's worked up quite a few demos that I really like. I think it's time for me to move on," he told me.

I was awed by the idea that, during that turbulent time, while he was preparing for his first semester of college, he would consider leaving the one thing that seemed it could remain constant. The band that had been the result of his and our best friends' first full-fledged attempt at crafting themselves as musicians would die in favor of Jake's new endeavor, a band called Trash the Dress.

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While I was sad to see Poets go, I can't imagine a South Bend pop-punk scene without Trash the Dress. From the beginning the band was bold. They wore their hearts on their sleeves and quickly won fans over with chanted melodies, high energy riffs, and breakdowns in the style of A Day to Remember.

The years that followed brought many lineup changes and, in turn, a move away from the band's heavy sound. The release of their second EP, "Why Do I Do the Things I Hate," showed a marked change. This short album chronicled the anxieties of the imminent struggle of self discovery during college years through angry, but contemplative lyrics, and a more nuanced and melodic approach.

Ultimately, the release of "Why Do I Do the Things I Hate" and a summer heavily laden with tour dates landed the band a deal with Michigan based label Capeside Records. The band recorded and released a full-length album, titled "Empty Basements" while on Capeside and arguably perfected their simultaneously melancholy and energetic sound.

Since their first appearance on the South Bend scene, Trash the Dress has become a pop-punk powerhouse and has gained fans and friends in droves with their gutsy performances and generally friendly attitude. However, all good things must end. On April 24th, the band will bid the public farewell with a final show at Smith's Downtown Tap & Grill.

As it was when the end of Poets and Posterboys came, I will be sad to see Trash the Dress go. Infinitely more sad, as a matter of fact, because of the musical growth I've witnessed in this band since its inception and the friendship that I have developed with each of its members. I have shared the stage with Trash the Dress many times as a member of a few different bands, and I will never forget the constant support I have received from them.

I will share the stage with these boys on their final evening together, and while I'm sure it will hurt to watch them leave these songs behind, I can't wait to see what each of these talented dudes will do with their best days. Days which I am sure are yet to come.

If you are a fan of Trash the Dress, leave a comment about your favorite experience seeing the band live, an anecdote about a Trash the Dress song that has particularly affected you, or a simple goodbye, come to Smith's to see the band kill one last set, and watch the music video for "My Best Days" below.

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