Typically, musicians stay tight-lipped around writers, erring on the side of caution when talking about their personal lives or their fans in hopes to preserve a polished PR image. When the Glamour Kills tour came through Los Angeles last Wednesday, March 28th, however, the Californian pop-punk band The Story So Far brought me into their world as they openly discussed their exciting and oftentimes hectic life on the road, the joys of touring, and what it feels like to have such dedicated, passionate fans. After a decade of going to shows, I saw the evening through the eyes of the artists, and what a fascinating experience it was.

As I arrived during solo artist Into It. Over It.’s set, I could see fans didn’t want to miss any of the five bands playing that evening. With a bargain price of fifteen bucks, the show made pop punk listeners pack into the Troubadour, and the sold-out venue already seemed at capacity. Evan Weiss played acoustically, opening with “Humboldt” and performing “Proper” and “Write It Right” as well. It was Weiss’s last night on the tour, and after crooning out heartfelt songs reminiscent of Transit, he thanked the audience for their attention.

It was clear The Story So Far drew a huge crowd as the intro of “States and Minds” played and fans screamed, “I’m falling in and out again!” Lead vocalist Parker Cannon said, “It’s great to be back on the west coast – west coast, best coast,” but he never cracked a smile as he intensely sang “Roam” and “Quicksand” without a break. Throwing punches and pointing at fans, Cannon would often extend the microphone to the audience, particularly towards the endless flow of crowd surfers who would climb onstage just to jump off again. Fans were crushed from every angle in their rough pit, but all that seemed to matter to the young crowd was singing along to The Story So Far’s emotional lyrics in songs like “Daughters” or “Mt. Diablo.”

The absence of a photo pit made it easy for fans to reach out or lift themselves onstage to be closer to their idols. Hands outstretched, audience members desperately sought to make eye contact with the members as they sang every word to their heartfelt tracks. Ending their set with “High Regard,” which featured a fan favorite line, “Fuck an apology, I’m not sorry for anything,” The Story So Far left the venue with an overwhelming energy and excitement.

Transit’s more mellow but no less emotionally charged set opened with “Long Lost Friends,” and vocalist Joe Boynton had a solid connection with the crowd as well. There may have been fewer crowd surfers and violent fist pumps than The Story So Far’s set, but Transit’s music leans more towards indie than pop-punk, and fans loved the band’s performance of “Nameless” and “1978.”

I was greeted warmly by The Story So Far, and while being a girl backstage always raises eyebrows, Cannon happily introduced me to all the bands and the granted legitimacy was greatly appreciated. The band showed me their seven-row van and the huge trailer they “take turns driving” as Transit loaded their equipment offstage. A poster was taped to the inside window from fellow pop-punkers and previous tour mates Man Overboard. “We played the night after them at this venue, and they had left this note for us there. It was like the first thing we saw,” explained Cannon. The hand-written letter said, “We love you guys, can’t wait to see you again,” among inside jokes.

The evening before the band had played in San Francisco, near their hometown of Walnut Creek, but guitarist Will Levy said although it was great to be back in California, “I didn’t see many people. I really just slept the whole day.” Their friends and family came to the previous show, though, and that rejuvenated the band to conquer the remaining month of the Glamour Kills tour. “We are hoping to get to the beach tomorrow, maybe Santa Monica or Venice,” Levy said. If the band has time and energy, they often take in the sights of the town.

After a quick meeting with their manager to discuss the show and hand in the money made off merchandise from the previous day (reminding me for a brief moment about the business side of a band), guitarist Kevin Geyer said, “Oh man, we should be hanging out with Evan, it’s his last night!” and we returned to The Troubadour to watch Polar Bear Club. Gritty vocalist Jimmy Stadt had incredible stage presence as he tore through “Screams In Caves,” “Living Saints,” “Light of Local Eyes,” and “Burned Out In A Jar.” The crowd’s energy had returned as crowd surfers were lifted and fans pointed back. The Story So Far grew closer to Polar Bear Club on the tour, receiving promotional merchandise while on the road thanks to them. Cannon said, “This is the best tour we’ve done. All the bands are just so cool, and we get along really well.”

During the break, I sat with The Story So Far by the bar while fans received a welcomed surprise as the group ate grilled cheese sandwiches and french fries near their merchandise booth. We watched The Wonder Years perform, and though this was the third time I had seen the band this year, their performance and fan reaction was no less impressive. Weiss joined Dan “Soupy” Campbell onstage for the choruses of “Don’t Let Me Cave In,” and the camaraderie on the tour was clear.

Cannon said, “It’s so interesting that fans relate so much to Soupy’s lyrics because they are so personal and specific to him and his life.” As fans loudly sang along to “Melrose Diner” and “Logan Circle,” it was apparent they related to Soupy’s feelings of loneliness, depression, and struggling to stay positive. The Wonder Years ended with “All My Friends Are in Bar Bands” and Soupy announced, “If you know these words and they mean something to you, raise your voice!” and belted out the band’s now-hugely popular phrase, “I’m not sad anymore!”

While Cannon, Levy, and fill-in bassist Jay Broni relaxed, I watched fans nervously stare, slowly muster up courage, and cautiously approach the group. Most thanked the band for the music or commented on what an incredible job they did. One young fan outright handed Parker a twenty dollar bill and thanked him for making music. Another pair of young boys applauded the musicians by repeating the phrase, “Every fucking time man! You’re so good! Every fucking time!” An older fan showed the boys a photo from last year at one of their concerts in San Francisco and said, “You just get better and better!” One quiet girl approached Cannon, handed him a letter, and asked him to read it. I didn’t ask to see the letter, but after reading both sides, he embraced the girl, saying, “Thank you Barbara, that’s why we do this. That means a lot, I will make sure everyone reads it.” Hands shook, hugs received, and pictures snapped as the band graciously accepted compliments. I asked the boys what it was like to be so revered.

“We’re just like anyone else,” Cannon explained, “Now Soupy, talk about a guy that means a lot to his fans. They worship him. His music means so much to them.” This proved true as I overheard fans passionately discussing how The Wonder Years had, “gotten them through a lot of stuff this year.” Cannon explained that during his writing process, he “wasn’t more sad than anyone else. I could just articulate it well.” All the members refused to admit that they were different or better in some way than their fans.

And I learned that the members of The Story So Far resemble their fans far more than I imagined. They value music and friendship. They speak fondly of their family and miss girlfriends. They get angry and deal with issues we all face, but they have the ability to verbalize their struggles and set it to music. While they give up school to tour and record, they are fundamentally the same as their fans, and that genuine relatability makes them so popular in this heart-on-your-sleeve scene. And that’s what will propel them even further this year.

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