Concerts, Road Trips, and TWLOHA
February 18, 2013 by Crystal Lorenzo
Get ready for an excitement-packed blog post, filled with excessive exclamation points, the word “amazing,” and an unnecessary amount of all CAPS (and maybe a combination of the three)!
This past Saturday, a few members of To Write Love on Her Arms and I all traveled to Detroit, Mich., for "Heavy and Light" (an event full of music, poetry and conversation put on by the national To Write Love on Her Arms Inc. that has been on tour throughout the U.S. for the past month). It was absolutely INCREDIBLE! First of all, the musical performances that were there included Noah and Abby Gunderson, Now, Now, Aaron Gillespie (who was the drummer of Underoath and now the lead singer of The Almost), Bryce Avery from The Rocket Summer, and last, but most definitely not least, JON FOREMAN, OF SWITCHFOOT, also with his side band, Fiction Family!
Each of them played their own 20-30-minute sets and sometimes they collaborated with the other artists on certain songs. The music was just amazing. They are all SO extremely talented. A lot of them were playing multiple instruments simultaneously, and Bryce Avery from The Rocket Summer used a looper, which is something that you basically make a sound into or play a tune into and it will keep that sound playing throughout the song without you having to continue making it. It was really awesome to see him do.
All of the music there was so passion-filled, it was all so honest and so meaningful. I've never had an experience quite like that, where the whole time it was filled with a strong sense of hope, passion and purpose. It felt more like the artists were friends, rather than famous people. They each spoke of personal struggles, and their connection to the issues that TWLOHA deals with: depression, addiction, anxiety, self-injury, suicide, etc. I was really impressed to see these people have the courage to share some of the hard bits of their stories, to show the attendees that these are things we should be talking about and that depression, or thoughts of suicide, don’t stop when you’re famous, or you get a degree, or start an organization. These are issues that affect countless numbers of people throughout the world, and we are genuinely not alone in them, nor should we feel like we are.
In addition to the music, there was a spoken word poet, Anis Mojgani, who is AMAZING! I've been a big fan of his for a while now, so getting to see him perform live was a huge treat. His most famous poem, and one of the ones he did at the show is called “Shake the Dust.” To me, it’s about never settling. Never settling into hardship, letting it become the norm. It’s about moving on, creating communities around you of people that care, working through the pain, and not letting life turn you bitter. Keep pushing when life gets you down, and reach out when you need a hand. It’s worth the fight.
No doubt, the most exciting and wonderful part of the night was right after Now, Now played. (Keep in mind, we were in the very first row the whole night, right up against the barrier!) I was looking away from the stage for a second when I heard my friends Molly and Rochelle say, “Oh my God, Crystal!” as they were jumping on me. I turned my head, and right there standing on the stage was DENNY KOLSCH (a.k.a. my biggest hero in the world, who I may be a tad bit in love with, and who I didn't know was going to be there!). I literally let out the worst fan-girl shriek and just like collapsed onto the ground out of excitement! (I really don’t even know how I got onto the ground, just one minute I was standing and the next I wasn't.)
OK, so I am IN LOVE with Denny, it’s pretty much public knowledge at this point, and I’m approximately 100 percent sure he knows it. Once I stood up, I literally just kept screaming even though the rest of the room was silent, and we made eye contact SO MANY TIMES. Also, he like actually knows who I am, so maybe it was more out of recognition that he was looking at me so many times, but we can only hope it was out of undying love and admiration (don’t judge!). Anyways, Denny told his story of addiction and redemption, and just further proved the point that you are never, ever alone, or helpless. The worst of situations can be solved, and the deepest of pain worked through.
Finally, Jamie Tworkowski (who founded TWLOHA) spoke about how the organization began, and how it has grown to be what it is. He talked a lot about hope. He reminded us that we are all living a story, our story is important, and that help is real.
The night had its fair share of laughs and light moments, but it also was a night that makes you feel very alive. The best way I can put it is that it was fulfilling. It makes you feel whole.
Afterward, we got to talk to all the people who performed and spoke. I got to talk to Denny for like 10 minutes! He remembered who I was and what school I go to and everything! It was amazing. I’ve literally been replaying that conversation and the moment I saw him on stage over and over again. So much love for Denny!
We also got to talk to Anis, the poet, and the best way we could describe him was "cool." He was just like a cool person. Very chill, very sweet, very down to earth. All in all, it was just an absolutely wonderful night. I wish I could relive it over and over again. I’m so glad I got to spend it with some of my best friends, my cousin and some members of our TWLOHA UChapter.
Besides that amazing trip, we had our TWLOHA benefit concert with Steven McMorran from the band Satellite! He was also AMAZING! We had so much fun with him. Molly and I drove to the hotel he was staying at to pick him up and, right off the bat, he was so comfortable and so sociable. We chatted about so many random things and joked all the way back to campus.
It literally just felt like we were hanging out with a friend all night. When he played his set, it was insane how much passion and emotion he put into all of his songs. They’re so filled with raw emotion that it’s kind of overwhelming. His voice is incredible on top of it all. It was so beautiful, and - even though I've used the word a lot it’s the only one that works - passionate. It’s so amazing to be able to be around people who really understand struggle and overcoming that struggle. It feels so comfortable to be able to connect to people on that level, and when you know someone has been through some amount of darkness, it creates this unsaid sense of comfort and acceptance and that’s what the people both directly affiliated with TWLOHA or people who support the organization all share.
After Steven played, Rochelle (VP of TWLOHA) and I got up and spoke about the organization and what it means to us and what we want to convey about life, hope and community. Rochelle, Molly and I drove with him back to the airport and when we had to say goodbye, it was really kind of sad. We really didn't want the night to end, but, unfortunately, all good things must come to an end.
All in all, it was an amazing night. We had so much fun, laughed a lot and got to spread our passion a bit to the broader NU community. Oh, and my mommy came out too, so that was cool :)
Needless to say, it was quite the jam-packed TWLOHA week, and both nights will go down as some of my favorite memories of my college experience so far.
Thanks for sharing my excitement!