Fresno Beehive

In Woodward Park, a quarter-life crisis averted

The writers, Rory Appleton, left, and Mackenzie Mays feeling many feelings as teenagers.
The writers, Rory Appleton, left, and Mackenzie Mays feeling many feelings as teenagers.

“The truth is you could slit my throat, and with my one last gasping breath I’d apologize for bleeding on your shirt.”

Has a lyric ever moved you more? Us either.

For one night, emo was back in full force in Fresno. Mackenzie Mays and Rory Appleton joined the likes of many nostalgic twenty-somethings in Woodward Park on Wednesday to see Taking Back Sunday, Dashboard Confessional and others as part of the Taste of Chaos tour.

After spending all the cash they had on Tioga Sequoia brews ($52 not including a $6 ATM fee because millennials don’t carry cash) and swapping awkward high school stories, they weighed in on what these bands meant to them – and their AIM away messages.

What was the best part of last night?

MM: Just seeing everyone hovering around 25, geeking out and knowing every word to the songs. You could hear people wonder aloud which songs the bands would play next. Lots of “remember whens.” It was cool that the bands both recognized the nostalgia they create, too. Last night made us remember when we thought we’d never get old – but here we are.

RA: The lead-up to and eventual adolescence culmination that was “Hands Down” by Dashboard Confessional. Chris Carrabba said early in the show, when he was asking for requests, “we’re not playing ‘Hands Down’ yet.’” He added that now, all these years later, he can say that the first songs were the best ones.

“I couldn’t have gotten back there if I tried to,” he said. STOP. NEITHER CAN WE. STOP.

I realized during the song that it may have given me unreal expectations for adult love. As we were all singing the “And I knew that you meant it” part, Mackenzie – who is getting married soon – said: “Spoiler alert: She didn’t mean it.” She is not marrying her high school boyfriend.

Which song took you back to a specific moment in high school? What was the moment?

MM: “You’re So Last Summer” by TBS. This song reminds me of sneaking out, stealing my friend’s mom’s Smirnoff Ices and getting in trouble because a boy called the landline too late.

It reminds me of when my friends and I would spend entire evenings just lying on the floor, eating chips and dip and singing along to these songs (that we downloaded via LimeWire.) We would Google the lyrics and pour over them -- something I still catch myself doing when I hear a good song for the first time.

RA: The only thing I could think about on my way to Rotary was “Screaming Infidelities.” Specifically, the ending: “Your hair. It’s everywhere. Screaming infidelities, and taking its wear.” So that song specifically took me back to emo lunch breaks at Clovis West. I would blare that song in my 1968 Volkswagon Beetle as I drove to lunch – usually alone – during my senior year.

Adam Lazzara (Taking Back Sunday’s lead singer) told the crowd, “I was there when you got your driver’s licenses and when you were discovering your bodies in the back of your daddies’ cars.” True or false?

MM: I mean, not literally. That’d be weird. But yeah, he was there for a lot. Mostly, Adam was assisting me in being overly dramatic about high school breakups. By my senior year, I was actually looking forward to a breakup. That’s how good those songs were. After getting me through the sad part (“Why can’t I feel anything from anyone other than you?”) he helped with the sassy I’m-so-over-it stage, too. (“If I’m just bad news, then you’re a liar.”)

RA: For me, it was pretty close to literally. Taking Back Sunday played in Fresno in 2004 – the year I got my driver’s license – so he may have honestly been in the city as I was doing driver’s training or something. Chris Carrabba said at one point during the concert that the last time he was in Fresno, he was playing in someone’s backyard. I hope that isn’t true. I will never be able to live with myself if it is.

But yes, both TBS and Dashboard were part of the soundtrack of Clovis West High School class of 2006. I think I ran into half of my graduating class there. Dashboard especially is a soundtrack for several heartbreaks – breakups, near misses, total rejections – from about ages 15 to 20. I think I may have played one of the songs for an ex, like, while I was breaking up with her.


Taking Back Sunday + Dashboard Confessional giving me all the feels

A video posted by mackmays (@mackmays) on

Most embarrassing emo fashion statement?

MM: Let’s be real, I could never pull off the emo look (#poser.) Once, though, I dyed the underside of my hair black. My friends told me it was cool, and I believed them. I still stand by black nail polish and oversized band tees.

RA: Yeah, I was never able to truly embrace the emo lifestyle. I wore a lot of black in freshman and sophomore years, but that’s about it. It’s funny. I noticed that everyone at the concert was dressed the way my classmates dressed in high school – regardless of their age. Everyone 16-60 was sweating it out together. It was a little embarrassing, but it was beautiful.

What is your favorite emo song from the angst-filled 2000s?

MM: I’ve got to give this one to Brand New. “OK I Believe You, But My Tommy Gun Don't” is just an experience. It’s arrogant and exhausting and cool and… sigh.

RA: “Lying is the Most Fun a Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off” by Panic! at the Disco is by far the best one. The song itself is amazing, but the title? I have lived my entire life by that title.

Was it a similar feeling, seeing them in 2016, to what you felt in 2003? Or a different kind of sadness?

MM: Like Chris Carrabba said, I couldn’t get back there if I tried.

RA: Same. It cemented that those days are gone forever. My jumping fences days are long gone.

Mackenzie Mays: 559-441-6412, @MackenzieMays Rory Appleton: 559-441-6015, @RoryDoesPhonics