“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.” -Dr. Seuss
It was a cold January night in 2013, the 18th to be exact. I was at The Firebird in downtown St. Louis with my best friend Jordan. The smell of icy air and cigarette smoke is still burned into my nostrils. We were waiting out side, her in jeans and a t-shirt and me in a sweatshirt with shorts, in 30 degree weather waiting for a band that she hated. She still thought I hated them too. She hadn’t felt what I felt in there, the magical spark that ignited inside me when I watched them play. It was then that I knew Equal Squeeze was brought into my life to show me how to be happy.
It was three months earlier, October 18th, 2012, when we’d seen them for the first time. Although we weren’t at that particular concert to see them, Equal Squeeze was opening up for two much bigger bands, The Maine and Mayday Parade. After their set, we quickly dismissed them and got excited for the headliners. We didn’t give Equal Squeeze a second thought, until after the concert when, as usual, Jordan’s mom was running late. We were sitting by the exit and hoping to see a member of one of the headliners. We met John, Kennedy, and Pat from the Maine and Jake and Derek from Mayday Parade! Still, her mom wasn’t there. I saw a few guys coming our way, I didn’t quite recognize them but I overheard them talking to a girl and say they were in Equal Squeeze.
“We should take a picture with them!” I whispered to Jordan.
“Why? Who are they?” She said, the disinterest evident in her voice.
“They’re the guys from Equal Squeeze and because you never know, they could get really big!”I replied.
“You can. My feet hurt, I’m not moving.”
As she whispered this, I noticed their conversation die down with the girls across from us and they started walking towards a mysterious door that we simple concert goers were not allowed to enter.
“Hey, you guys are from Equal Squeeze right?” I said getting up and making them stop in their tracks.
“Yeah!” Joe replied.
“Can I get a picture with you guys?” I asked.
“Of course!” Trey replied.
After Jordan took our picture, I said, “You guys were so good tonight!” That was a lie. I didn’t remember what their set was. I still don’t, but for some reason I said it anyway.
“Thank you so much!” Stephen said.
“Of course! Do you guys have any shows coming up? I definitely want to see you play again!” I said. It was another lie. I couldn’t remember what they sounded like, so how could I want to go to a show? What was I doing? Why was I saying these things? I could see Jordan looking at me like I was crazy, but for some reason I genuinely wanted to go to the next show, whatever the date may be.
“December second!” Trey said.
“There’s a link on Facebook for it!” Stephen said.
“Awesome! I’ll be there.” I said with a smile.
When I got home that night, I went crazy cyber-stalking this band. I found them on Facebook and Twitter. I found all of their songs, bought them on iTunes immediately and played them on repeat for days, until I knew all the words.
December 2nd 2012, my parents wouldn’t let me go to the concert. I felt like my life was over. I cried and begged my parents to go but I wasn’t old enough to stay out that late on school nights yet. I thought nothing about that night could be good until 9pm when I got a text from Jordan. She’d gone to the concert that night, not to see Equal Squeeze, but to see another band. She’d asked Joe and Trey if they’d record a video for me because I couldn’t make it.
“What’s up Lizzy? ‘Hey Lizzy’ Sorry you couldn’t make it…uh…but we’ll play again and hopefully you can make it out to that one. ‘Exactly.'”
They did play again January 18, 2013.
I wasn’t excited to go to that concert. All I wanted to do was stay home. I wasn’t feeling like myself. I was sad and tired. I felt either nothing or everything. I was self-harming. I had planned on skipping the concert that night, I had other plans for myself, until I felt something, for the first time in days. The feeling in my gut made me remember that I had made a commitment, to them, to see another show. I knew that I had to keep that commitment, so I sucked it up, called Jordan and we made our way to The Firebird.
I don’t remember getting there, or the bands before them, but when Equal Squeeze came on there were maybe seven people in the crowd, two of them may have been staff. I stood front and center. I nodded long to each song, sang to the ones I knew, and it was all a blur. It seemed to only take them about 10 seconds to get to “Where We Should Be,” my favorite song from their EP. That transition, that moment in time, felt like an eternity for me. My heart started beating faster. All of a sudden I was the only person in the crowd. I saw Joey smiling at the drums, a lion with a grin ready to attack the beat. I saw Hosto on guitar, stoic in his features but if you looked in his eyes, you could see there was no place he’d rather be than up on that stage. Stephen on bass had the smile of a child who had just been told “go crazy kid” at Toys R Us. Matt on guitar, as well, had his head bowed towards the guitar preparing himself for the song to come. Trey, the lead singer, broke me out of my trance by caressing my cheek and singing “I woke you up with a kiss on the cheek and said oh oh oh this is how it should be.” He resembled a movie star from the 60s and as he took his hand away from my face a fire erupted in my soul. The only thing I felt was pure happiness. It’s all I felt for the rest of the night. Happiness was a feeling that I’d thought I lost. All I had felt for the past year was happy AND angry or happy AND sad. I had forgotten that happiness was a feeling that could be felt alone.
Equal Squeeze didn’t play “Where We Should Be” again until November 15th, 2014. They only played it because I made a petition and got 100 people to sign it. I have remained their fan and gone to every single show in the past 3 years with the exception of one where I was out of town. I have had a few conversations with the guys about that song since the 18th. They hadn’t played that song in a few months before they played it that night. Frankly they don’t really like that song. They don’t know why they played it. They just did. I don’t know who or what made them play it that night but I firmly believe it was fate. I used to think Equal Squeeze was put in my life to save it, but I now realize they were given to me to show me how to enjoy life, to show me how to be happy.