Matches fan(/fam) reunions are the best. And this is a weeklong celebration of the band, starting off with a music showcase raising funds for documentary Bleeding Audio called We Bleed Audio, complete with seven artists covering their favorite Matches songs.
I spent my time before heading to the venue—the Verdi Club in San Francisco—at Smashburger a few blocks away stuffing my face. When I got to the venue and met up with the crew, I wound up turning right back around and heading back to Smashburger with them. And then weirdly enough my friend Alanna showed up there too. Somehow we all magically ate at the same place without planning it?
I had been sick for about a week and was sitting at a booth with a bunch of people coughing my lungs out when she texts me: “Stop dying!” Cue me turning around so fast, shocked she knew I was dying, and there she was!
This event was both weird and amazing because so many people I know and love from different parts of my life were all in the same place. It was my friends I knew through the Matches who had come from all different parts of the country as well as my friends from San Francisco who are also friends with the Matches themselves, all under the same roof. I had to run back and forth between friend groups socializing, and it was pretty wonderful.
As I said, I was sick and coughing myself to death. Director Chelsea Christer saw me and got all motherly on me, asking if I needed to sit down and thanking me for coming despite being sick. I wouldn’t miss this!
Before the showcase started, we watched the full trailer for the film. It gave me all the feels and reminded me why I love this band so much (as if I could ever forget).
This is not the full trailer, because it’s not out for sharing just yet, but a sneak peek:
The first band to hit the stage was Million Trillion, a (more or less) local band hailing from San Jose, CA. They were super talented, but probably not someone I would go out of my way to see again. They covered “December is for Cynics” and put their own spin on it. It’s kinda funny how a band that grew up on the Matches can sound nothing like them.
After Million Trillion’s set, my friend Mandy’s boyfriend was heading to the bar. I said I wasn’t spending money on alcohol (that pinching pennies life), so he offered to buy me a beer. So we made our way to the bar, where we ran into someone I never in my life would think I could call one of my favorite people, Dan San Souci, Matches’ bassist Justin’s father. I gave him a hug and we stopped to catch up.
Dan: “I’ll call you the Venue Fairy. You fly around to all these different venues. … How was the UC Theater?”
The UC Theater is where the Matches are playing this weekend, so everyone wants to know what it’s like. I saw Green Day there, so not exactly the same experience.
Also that nickname has since been changed to Concert Fairy. I love it. It’s me.
We talked about the documentary and how long it’s taking to make. He told me about one called Searching for Sugar Man that took years upon years to make, but was ultimately worth it and a really great movie. I haven’t watched it yet, but I feel like I should. It’s about “the greatest 70’s rock icon who never was.” Sounds like a me kinda movie.
I eventually made my way back into the venue, only to find Tom Higgenson, frontman of the Plain White T’s, standing right in front of me.
Me to me: “I don’t know how to person right now.”
I was way too nervous to say anything to him. I always loved the Matches more than the Plain White T’s (and let’s be real, more than anyone other than Green Day), but still, he’s the frontman of one of my favorite bands growing up. That’s nerve wracking, dude. He’s RIGHT THERE.
I was going to head up closer to the stage to watch the next act, August Brings, but then I got sidetracked when I saw my friend Kyle talking to Matches frontman Shawn Harris in the back of the venue. So I went and talked to them instead.
Shawn is one of my favorite humans. I love him so much. Here are a few gems from our conversation:
“I saw you didn’t have a ticket to Green Day but went anyway. I was hoping you got in so I could ask you about the venue. I’ve never set foot in there. What was it like?”
“Wasn’t the venue giving you a hard time for camping out there without a ticket? I saw some of their responses were kinda rude.”
“When Green Day announced they were playing there and I saw the press release, it said ‘See Green Day in a small club,’ and I’m like ‘Fuck you! This is the biggest venue I’ve ever played!'”
He also said there was a debate over who started the infamous “meows” during the hums of “Scratched Out/Track 11.” I assumed it was this kid called Kool Kat, mostly because his name is Kool Kat and he claims to have started the meows. Shawn said it might have been someone else. For a second it sounded like he was willing to trust my judgment on it. I only met Kool Kat a year ago at this point, and I was never a part of the original Matches scene at iMusicast, so please don’t trust a word I say, Shawn.
August Brings (aka the solo project of Zen Zenith) of Los Angeles covered the Matches’ newest song, “Life of a Match.”
Curious Quail is a local Bay Area band that I’ve seen a few times and always enjoy. They were awesome at We Bleed Audio like usual. They came prepared with Lite Brites, finger lights, and Gameboys (which are used to make music, mind you).
They covered “Borderline Creep” and it was fantastic.
Random side story: Around this time, my friend Julia and I decided we were getting married. We asked Jon Devoto (Matches’ guitarist) to play our wedding. He told us he’s an expensive wedding musician, but he agreed to marry us. As in, be the third in our happy little imaginary marriage. Okay.
“We billed it as St. Ranger so it wouldn’t just say ‘Shawn Harris of the Matches’ but St. Ranger is the name of my solo project so I wouldn’t have to make shirts with my name on it.”
He opened with a St. Ranger song, “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Artists,” which was AMAZING and hilarious live. He was so bitter and angry and comical through the whole thing, I about died. That was probably my favorite song of the night. (Well… there were a few.) He even interrupted himself mid-song to go on a huge rant about how artists only make between 1/16th and 1/32nd of a penny per play on Spotify. (Reasons I don’t use Spotify, ladies and gentlemen.)
Then he pulled out a little surprise…
“I didn’t practice this at all, but I figured it would make Tom more comfortable playing my song if I played one of his. He won’t butcher it nearly as bad.”
And ohhhh did he butcher it. He played the Plain White T’s “Stop” and it was hilariously bad.
“And then there’s that line… Something something I don’t remember how it goes… But it’s my favorite part… And if that doesn’t make Tom feel more comfortable, nothing will.”
Okay, clearly I got my quotes all wrong. Close enough.
Shawn, still onstage, starts playing “The Restless” when Jon runs onstage with a plank of wood yelling for him to stop.
“There can’t be music without tap dancing!”
Tapper Dan is the BEST EVER.
Shawn: “I thought you had another set!”
He had a twang the whole time, this whole new outfit and persona, and the dancing was amazing. I pretended to tap dance with him, but I don’t know how.
“Matt Whalen couldn’t be here this week, so Tapper Dan!”
After “The Restless,” Jon changed clothes and came back onstage.
Jon to Shawn: “Hey! I haven’t seen you since we played New York City in June!”
They sang “Dog-Eared Page” together, Tapper Dan no longer.
Shawn: “All these other musicians are better than my band. Sorry, Jon and Justin. It’s cool to hear real musicians playing my songs.”
After they were done, Shawn intro’d Tom from the stage.
“The Matches had a lot of big brother bands, but the Plain White T’s was our first big brother band.”
Between sets I could hear Shawn and Tom talking behind me. Tom was apparently going to play “Stop” but Shawn beat him to it, so he decided to play “Hate” instead.
Jon: “I missed all of Tapper Dan. I was in the bathroom.”
Chelsea asked Shawn to intro Tom for real, so he went back onstage and said the exact same thing over again, but this time ultra fake.
Tom: “I believed it more the first time.”
Tom claimed to be the biggest Matches fan. Apparently he talked about them for 2 hours and 20 minutes during his interview for Bleeding Audio.
Things I learned: “Hate” was their first radio song (before “Hey There Delilah” believe it or not) and Shawn texted Tom saying it was the quintessential Plain White T’s song, so that’s how Tom knew it was good.
Then he played “American Nights” and dedicated it to someone who requested it earlier in the night.
“You guys don’t know this song cuz it’s new and you stopped listening to us 10 years ago.”
Tom: “I didn’t really have anything prepared, so does anyone have any requests?”
Me: “‘Take Me Away!'”
Tom: “You know that song?! Okay, here’s ‘Take Me Away’ for… What’s your name?”
Tom: “This is for Lindsay!”
Julia: “Did high school you just melt away?”
Tom Higgenson dedicated my favorite Plain White T’s song to me. That is a thing that happened.
Of course, he covered a Matches song. He played one of my favorites, “Salty Eyes,” so I grabbed my wife and we waltzed. I think we were the only ones waltzing. I never care. It was so amazing. One of my favorite musicians covering one of my other favorite musicians. Ugh, so good.
And here’s “Salty Eyes” as well as “Take Me Away” and “American Nights,” but I’m pretty salty whoever recorded it cut the part where he gave me my shout out… -sigh-
After the show, I found Tom (and the courage to finally talk to him). I got a selfie and a hug, and he thanked me for knowing his music and requesting a song.
Then he asked me how he did on “Salty Eyes.” Obviously I told him he killed it. I couldn’t believe that was even a question. He told me how much he loved the song and I showed him the tattoo on my wrist. Probably the best way of saying I do too.
Pat, who edited the documentary trailer together, thanked me for being there and asked if I was going to the Matches show on Saturday. Like I said to Chelsea: Dude, they’re my favorite band. I wouldn’t miss it.
Speaking of Chelsea…
Once the show was over, she did not hold back on giving me a hard time for being there sick.
“Don’t you have to crowdsurf and do crazy things on Saturday? You should go home and rest.”
“Didn’t Lindsay say she was gonna go home and take care of herself?”
Me: “Okay, mom.”
Bleeding Audio is gonna be a killer documentary, but it’s all being independently filmed and funded, so Chelsea needs all the help she can get! Donate to the film’s post-production Kickstarter and don’t miss out on all the awesome rewards! You can even get some downloadable versions of these covers through the Kickstarter campaign. Do it!