🎵 Super Rad 🎵


It was the turn of the century – Y2K and all that jazz.  Kendall threw a “Pop Party.” This so-called pop party had only one price for admission – bring pop-something.  Popcorn. Popsicles. Pop Rocks. You name it.

We quite literally partied like it was 1999 – for only a few more, short minutes.  Everybody who is anybody was going to be there and my best friend had explained to me this kissing tradition I had never heard of before.  

I was about to turn 16 years old, which meant by law (almost literally around here) I was going to be allowed to date.  The idea of finding that somebody I would spend the rest of my life with during a New Year’s kiss? Best. Idea. Ever. #SoSixteen

My best friend, M— was already dating Kendall, and he was the keyboard player in what was without a doubt THE most popular local ska band at the time (and quite possibly ever since).  

M— was the type of girl that was confident and compelling.  Without warning, she flung open the front door and entered mid-dance.  She turned to grab my hand, pulling me into unplanned shenanigans. I forced past my corner-dwelling personality and skanked through the door, just behind her to the familiar tune of near-local favdom, The Aquabats.

🎵 We’re on our way, here we go, we’re going to take over! Set it off one last time, here we come again! 🎵

We caught everyone’s attention as we entered and it seemed almost every person in attendance came to say hi to M in particular.  That’s where that corner-dwelling part of me kicks in again and I squeeze through the ensuing circle in search of a patch of unshared air.  

I wandered aimlessly through a large, multi-level house that seemed to live and breathe as if it were still the 80’s – dark, shag carpet and frilly, wooden cabinets in a kitchen that still had harvest gold appliances.  

My plan was to mindlessly eat pop-themed foods until Mthought to introduce me to her other friends.  This was before I realized I was that friend that existed only to make her look that much more lively and compelling, not the friend you want to show off to all of your friends.  I hadn’t exactly come into my own.  It took me a while to realize this because I wasn’t exactly the fat friend either.  I was just thick boned, right? All I knew was I could share clothes with the best of them, but nobody exactly wanted to borrow clothes from me.  In so many words, I was that girl.

“I don’t know, it’s just being really slow,” the kid next to me tapped away on an ancient, IBM labeled laptop while I stood gargling down a third pack of strawberry flavored Pop Rocks like it was the best dinner I had ever had.

I peered at him from the corner of my eye.  Blue Dickies jacket. Blue Dickies pants. Lagwagon Tshirt.  Spiked hair. Yes, please.

“Umm,” I said, causing him to turn around at the exact moment that a final popping Pop Rock flew from my mouth.  I threw my hand over my mouth and rapidly talked myself out of embarrassment. Go with it. Go with it. Go with it.  “Haaaaaaa.” I let out an almost forced laugh.

🎵 And if we die before the battles through, Tell your mom, tell your dad we were Super Rad…🎵

Quick!  He was turning away to talk to this red headed chick sitting on a stool next to him at the kitchen counter.  Who the heck was she and where’d she come from?

“I can fix that for you!” I insisted.

“Really?”  He smiled and I fell in love.  

He had a face that was perfectly framed by side burns that said he had to be older than any of these other kids but not old enough to be a creeper among friends.  But that smile. Holy cow, that smile!

I must’ve stared blankly at his perfect, white teeth for a solid minute before stopping myself from taking in another mindless scoop of Pop Rocks and instead, reaching out to shove him off the frilly, wooden kitchen stool and sitting down at the harvest gold countertop to set his computer up to defrag.

I was a bit of a computer geek – priding myself in having made it to AP Computer Science as early as 10th grade, which was precisely the grade I was in now.

The crazy-pixie Punky Brewster looking redhead continued chatting him up, stealing his attention away from my attempt to prove I was the smartest, most interesting person there that night.  But I couldn’t think of anything interesting to say or any way of interjecting into their almost practiced conversation. This was big kid stuff, I’ll just stick to my silly little defrag and continue to eat Pop Rocks for the rest of my sad, sorry life.

Then I heard him start to talk about his band, and before he could get another word out to little miss red thang, I swirled around on the freshly polished stool and asked, “What do you play?”

I was in!

“Drums,” he said.  

Crap! I knew nothing about drums.  If there was any one instrument made to exist in spite of any natural musical ability I was born with, it was the drums.

“Oh…” I paused.  “That’s cool.”

“You know what they say about drummers…” this girl started to say.  Aimee was her name. I had gathered that much. I was head deep in an eye roll when she finished her sentence, “… they’re good at multi-tasking.”  I swear at that moment she winked and popped her bubble gum. I honestly didn’t see the appeal.

Still, I couldn’t leave the conversation at this.  I had successfully turned it away from anything this other girl might have to say for no other reason than she already knew the answers to these questions.  “So uhh, when’s your next show?” I asked, pretending to be deep into a computer process that required absolutely no monitoring at all.

“I’m not sure.  I’m working on getting that booked right now actually.”

“I’ll do it!”  I quite literally raised my hand as if I were an excited teachers pet volunteering to feed the class hamster or something.  I blamed the Pop Rock overdose.

“You’ll book the show?”

“Ya.”

Heh. Ok. Where?”

As I thought about it, I realized that I had no idea what I was doing.  I had never booked my own show before. I didn’t even know what options I had, if any, for where the show could be booked.  “Ve…” I started to say at the same time he projected, “Vet’s Hall?!?”

“Yea!!  There…” I was out of things to say and hoping he wouldn’t ask me for any details.

“Great!” There was that smile again.  He seemed excited. “Are we playing with anyone or do you still need to book the other bands?”

Oh crap!  I hadn’t thought about that.  Other bands. In fact, I would need to find at least 3 other bands.  I barely even knew 3 other bands!

“Uhhh. Yea.  I haven’t booked anyone else yet.  I still need to do that.”

“Cool!  I can help you with that.”

Yessss!  I was in.  I was in. He was going to help me book his show. We would have to work together and talk and stuff.  And that means we’re going to be together forever and he’s probably going to kiss me at midnight and stuff!  I was elated. #SoSixteen

“I can make flyers too.”  He took out a small piece of paper from the left pocket of his Dickies and took a pen from the kitchen counter, placing it in his left hand.  I love left-handed people. I wish I was left-handed. “Vet’s Hall…” he said out loud as he scribbled it across the top of the page. “Ok. When?”

Right!  When? “Probably for my birthday.”

“Probably?”

“I mean actually!  Actually, it’s for my birthday which is on the 13th.”

“Well, that’s a Thursday.”

“It is…” I fumbled. “That’s why the show is on Friday!”  Why did everything I say come out like I was Tour-Guide Barbie?  Ugh. If he just didn’t ask me how old I was going to be, we might actually make it out of this alive!

At 11:51pm, the front door burst open with an unfamiliar, “Let’s get this party started!” announced from a big guy sporting camo shorts and an oversized, black hoodie despite it being the middle of winter.  “K— ya bastard, where are you?” he said as my computer challenged soon-to-be boyfriend turned, throwing both his hands in the air for a double high five as he walked up the short set of stairs there by the kitchen.

At almost the exact moment their hands clasped together for a true bro-moment, a small, long-haired kid fell through the still partially open front door, stumbling over himself in what might have been my first ever witnessed drunken stooper.  He yelled, “Move! Move! Move!” and shoved past people, down the stairs, down another set of stairs, and out what I can only assume was the garage door.

K— followed after him, yelling an innocent, “What the heck man?”

I must’ve had a confused look on my face when K— returned to see how his very long and boring computer defrag was going.

“Who was that?”

“That?!?” He pointed over his shoulder toward a trail of destruction.  “That! Is Bert McCracken.”

The name meant nothing to me at the time.  In fact, it meant nothing to most people in 1999.  Bert had yet to even become local famous let alone charged with the start of a worldwide screamo pandemic.

“He used to be in our band.  And that,” he pointed back up the stairs to the guy in camo shorts, “that’s Scotty X.  He is one of the guitarists in my band, and he is also in another band with Bert called Cobra Kai.  But you’ll probably also know Bert from a band called Strange Itch.”

It was an introduction to what would be a pivotal moment, marking the rest of my life as dedicated to this powerful, centered life of music.

I was saved.

January 8, 1999

Here, I come to save the day on legal speed the American way

My homework was done. I had been a perfect angel all week long, and I wouldn’t take no for an answer when I told my mom I needed a ride to Center Street Provo for a show this Saturday. A band I had known since my first summer visit to Utah was playing and I was supposed to be on the guest list! But I wasn’t just there as a guest, I was there for business! I had met another kid online that was planning a Battle of the Bands and needed my help.

This was back in the day where America Online was like Facebook, only with no real competitors and while the over-sharing of information struck fear into the hearts of every mother across America that believed the Internet was filled with older men pretending to be young teenagers, the reality is we were safe back then and the information we shared was nothing like we share today.

Some friend, of a friend, of a friend – not one of which I knew their actual, real name – recommended his screename to my screename. DJBinky808 (clearly a raver) was my new pal and I knew he’d be the one one by the pool table, rocking Hot Topic style parachute pants and a spiked dog collar. Ok, so maybe my mom was allowed to worry… a bit.

Back then everyone I knew in my life, I met online.

Living the single-parent life with my mom in a basement apartment of some random used-to-be farm town with a skate park over the fence meant for a lot of late night, completely dodgy meet ups with these random screenames while my mom agreed to at least stand back far enough to act like she didn’t know me while I shook hands and made friends in a way she never imagined she’d have to worry about. She couldn’t say no. I would always get my way.

Anything my parents refused me was somehow instantaneously distorted into a school project. “Oh you won’t let me meet this guy 20 years older than me with his own recording studio? That’s cool because now I have to interview a professional in the music business for a career day project at school!” I spawned the term #SorryNotSorry before hashtags were a thing (outside of my frequented life as a secret computer geek when I wasn’t binge watching MTV with random would-be band mates).

For having never planned a show before, I was confident this was what I was meant to do with my life and the fact that I barely knew anything about it didn’t even phase me. I made arrangements to meet DJBinky808 at Wrapsody during a show with local band, Froglick. There was no cooler place to hang out and no better place than this to plan my first ever music business meeting. Surely he would be impressed that I knew the headlining band!

Back then, Wrapsody was the place to go. It was the largest venue in town and the largest venue that has existed since! It held down the only lively corner of our small, college-town. The owner, Corey Fox, had just put in a self-built set of stadium seating, blocking the back half of the venue for billiard tables.

I never really played pool before. I didn’t have to try to know that I was terrible at it. I circled the table, trying to hide the way I was starring at this kid. He wore a pair of reflective, black rave pants and a large, metal beaded necklace. He didn’t have much to say, and I didn’t really have anything to ask him. It was obvious that he was very uninterested in this school assignment, or the assignment didn’t exist at all.

I watched him try to play. He wasn’t any better than I assumed I was, having never really even tried to hit the ball across the table toward whatever color I was. I felt a hand on my shoulder and heard an excited, “Heeeeyyy!” It was K-!

Without knowing how to react in the middle of a loud venue, I just stood there not prepared for the moment he leaned in and gave me a big hug. A hug? Oh my God a hug! We were definitely going to have babies.

Maybe my new high school friend could tell that any remaining interest I had was suddenly faded. Maybe he was uninterested himself. Either way, he walked away without ever even saying goodbye, and I shyly walked behind K- as he continued greeting a few familiar faces.

We stood at the back of the crowd, arms crossed, listening to the band on stage.   I had never heard them before. They sounded nothing like any of the other bands that were popular around Provo. This wasn’t ska. This wasn’t punk. This was awesome!

The music was the only thing that could lull me away from the worry as to whether or not K- liked me and what it might mean that we were standing next to each other so contently. Oh God our shoulders were touching! Should I move? Should I stand there? Is he trying to touch shoulders with me? Being a teenage girl sucked! But this was easily the most awesome night of my life so far.

Blasting their way through the speakers, and head banging through the entire song, my entire body buzzed as the band threw aside their equipment as if they had no real intention of being there and their entire presence was a favor to someone far less important than they were. The stage faded to black. Amplifiers buzzed a loud, crackling buzz as electric guitar strings hummed against the old, Persian rug on stage.

“I’m going to…” I started to yell over the buzz, motioning wildly toward the stage.

“Wanna go backstage?” he asked. My heart jumped! We were always on the same page. He took the words right out of my mouth.

Scooting past the band, carrying their equipment off the stage to the back room, we moved from total darkness to an overwhelming fluorescent luminescence. The lead singer of Froglick raised a blue bottle toward us in his left hand, singing out, “Heeeeeeeeeey!” as we entered. The rest of the band sat dread-locked and dark haired on the old, yellow couch in the center of the room – backed by drum equipment and stacks of large, black amplifiers.

This must be heaven.

K- went to congratulate the band that had just finished loading off the stage. He was that kind of guy – nice and stuff. R- broke through my daydream of life as a musician’s wife when a small, bumpy blue bottle of Bawls was presented directly in front of my face, dancing back and forth.

“Bawwwwls,” he announced, causing his band mates to break out into laughter as if they were half, well no probably more like a third of their actual age.

L- flipped his long, reddish black dreadlocks over his shoulder as he stood to start loading their equipment to stage. K- offered to help while I palmed this strange, glass bottle in my hands, careful not to spill.

“Have some!” R- insisted.

Oh the peer pressure. I lightly tasted it, barely a sip at all. I wasn’t sure what it was and was convinced by the look of things that it was probably alcohol. And that’s just the sort of thing I would never be able to successfully hide from my mother nor did I want to. The whole idea of it was just… strange.

I didn’t want to ask. I didn’t want to sound stupid as the rest of the band egged me on, bragging about how Bawls was now their official band sponsor.

“Is it…” I couldn’t word this any better, “is it alcohol?”

All I got in reply was boisterous laughter as each member of the band started lugging their respective set of equipment to the stage – R-, joking about the struggles of carrying one, single microphone to the stage as he gyrated around me, tongue out as if he were trying out to be the lead of KISS.

I-I-I’m wired
I’m so inspired
I drank the entire pot

It didn’t take long to feel the effects of this bubbly delight to find out that this was indeed an energy drink. Exciting! No thanks to my older brother, energy drinks were already a staple of my teenage diet. He would be stoked to find out about this new one! Jolt Cola, step aside!

I suppose it was the best pre-show choice when rocking out at an All Ages venue with… well, kids of all ages, including that girl that goes to my school. I don’t know who she is. I’m not even sure what her name is, but she’s always here, at every Froglick show with the same boy.

Like so many Froglick shows before, I was up front vying for spot as #1 fan next to my only contender, Jentle. Another known screename associated with an unfamiliar face. Jentle is the kind of girl that dyes her hair black or orange and types *le sigh* as a common expression. God, she was cool! She was the kind of girl you wanted to be – the kind you knew could kick your ass, but still rocked a flawless appeal no matter who she was, no matter what she wore. I wasn’t sure if I should loathe her or worship her. So I ignored her.

Yelling out the lyrics to the most popular songs and throwing elbows in a wild, seizure-inducing dance craze, this was my night and I would never forget it.

January 8, 2000.

That was just the thing about music, it captivated me. It made me not give a damn! I know who I am. I do what I want! There wasn’t anyone there to stop me.

Except… curfew.