Reasons to Be a Frank Turner Fan

Because the only thing
That punk-rock should never really mean
Is not sitting round
And waiting for the lights to turn green
And not thinking that you’re better
’cause you’re stood up on a stage
If you’re oh, so fucking different
Then who cares what you have to say?

—– Frank Turner – Try This At Home

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I’ve just been to my sixth Frank Turner show. To some people I’m sure that seems like a lot and to others it’s a drop in the bucket when you consider that Frank has played 2331 shows as of his Edmonton show. (He keeps count) Sometimes I stop to wonder how I went from my friend Mick suggesting I might like Frank’s stuff (since I like punk and folk) to knowing all his songs and attending every show I could, but I’ve not come to one definitive answer. What is it about his music and the performances that has me going back time after time? Is it entirely the music? My first solo show was a Frank show, my first show in Vancouver and Calgary were Frank Turner shows. This show was another first, as I sat at a table interacting with strangers rather than awkwardly by myself.

I manned a table for Mable Syndrome giving out buttons & stickers and explaining what Mable Syndrome was from doors until the start of Frank’s set at just after 9 pm. At one point I was talking to two men who had stopped to ask what my table was all about. One of the men said he was a huge fan and the other said he had never even heard Frank Turner before; that he had been dragged to the show by his friend. He joked that old or new songs it would all be new for him. Talk turned from Mable Syndrome to the upcoming set.

“Are you a big fan? Haha, you probably are if you’re here! Tape Deck Heart is the best, it’s a perfect album, right? He probably won’t play it though, he’ll play all the new stuff.” The first man said in a hurried blur of words and I nodded. I said that I was a big fan, that I didn’t think he’d play JUST the new album and that while Tape Deck Heart was brilliant, I was rather partial to another album. I showed him the tattoo on my arm featuring the artwork for FT’s album Poetry of the Deed. The other man, the newcomer to the music seemed slightly shocked I had a tattoo. This was just a band, right? Hell, this was just a SINGER with a band. I was rather surprised but for a different reason, he was wearing a three piece suit to a show… Yet the fan and I shared a second of “of course she has a tattoo! Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls are amazing!”

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The Swag Table

It would be easy to judge this enthusiastic fast talking fanboy based on the way he looked and spoke. Thankfully music can bridge the gaps of perception in society. Yes, it was possible to have a great conversation even if the guy had a rather dude bro fashion sense and struggled with talking AT people instead of talking to them. He was really nice though and took Mable Syndrome business cards for his girlfriend and himself. There was a brief connection there that was memorable enough that I remembered it and I’m writing about it now.

It was nice to see the other people at the show from a distance rather than from within the crowd. Smiles were exchanged between people passing each other. Nods between strangers who unbeknownst to either of them share a favourite song. When the set started there were little looks of knowing and the excitement that it’s starting right now and oh my gods he hasn’t played this song live in forever (or ever). That realization that you’re about to hear a song live for the first time is a wonderful, beautiful thing.

So, that’s one reason I keep going back to Frank’s shows. The music, performance and entertainment value are important, but they take a backseat to the connection you feel. The energy that thrums through the crowd as they sing along with someone who is on stage, but doesn’t appear to be BETTER than anyone else. He creates and knows the words, sure and he leads the singing, but you get the impression that if he just stopped singing the crowd would continue without him. The words mean something to each person there.

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Because there’s no such thing as rock stars,
There’s just people who play music,
And some of them are just like us,
And some of them are dicks.

I know I’ve quoted the song Try This At Home (which is quoted throughout this) before, but that’s because it encompasses what I think being punk is all about in a few lines. I know for the brief time that I’m at the show, surrounded by complete strangers that I can be myself.

For me these gigs are one of the few times that my anxiety melts away. The nervous energy that I usually have to channel into podcasting or writing gets exorcised by the music. I leave a show tired, sweaty and full of life. It brings out the best in people. Afterward the gig compliments seem to run like electricity through the merch line about both of the show and the people around them. “Oh wow, I love your hat/bag/hair/skirt!” “Wasn’t that show great?” “Did you see when Frank/Nigel/Tarrant/Ben/Matt did that thing that everyone laughed/loved?” Often it’s between people who seemed to have just met, or in a seated venue like the Winspear someone who you spent that time standing/sitting next to.

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Frank Turner & the Sleeping Souls at the Winspear Centre on September 11, 2018. ©Eric Kozakiewicz Photography / Vue Weekly

It’s not like other shows. I can hear you rolling your eyes, but it’s true! At other punk shows I struggle with feeling that I’m not cool enough. I worry that I’m not tough enough, and that I don’t rebel enough. Here I feel punk enough, I feel like I deserve to be there. I feel included. I hear my favourite musician talking about how important it is to include others and to treat each other kindly and more importantly to keep doing it after the show ends. He encourages groups like Safe Gigs for Women, Ally Coalition and Mable Syndrome to have tables at his shows because their message is important.

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#bemorekind #frankturner

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Listen, I know bad things still happen, I’m not that naive. However, it’s still important to me and nice to hear that someone on a stage that people look up to, is saying important things about acceptance and kindness. The inclusion didn’t just stop at talk. There were people of all genders there with mohawks, pin & patch covered vests, high heels, club wear, and children wearing bunny onesies with Frank Turner hoodies overtop. The kids held the hands of parents with Frank Turner shirts that are older than the child. Yes there are still problems, but there is EFFORT to make that environment welcoming.

As an example, one of his songs had a lyric change from woman to person and that still boggles my mind. It made me so happy to hear it. I even mentioned it on Verity! which is a Doctor Who podcast, not my music podcast.

Because I’ve said I love you so many times that the words kinda die in my mouth.
And I meant it each time with each beautiful woman person but somehow it never works out.
You stood apart in my calloused heart, and you taught me & here’s what I learned:
That love is about the changes you make and not just three small words.
—– Frank Turner – The Way I Tend to Be

Who am I kidding? I knew this would devolve into a love letter for the music and the community Frank Turner has inspired and also for the Be More Kind message that his latest album is spreading. Maybe that’s the reason I’ll be there buying tickets every time he comes to town (or close by town), or maybe there are just too many reasons to count. I’m okay with that.

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So, quick turn off your stereo
Pick up that pen and paper
Yeah, you can do much better
Than some skinny half-arsed English country singer

‘Cause we write love songs in C and we do politics in G
We sing songs about our friends in E minor
So tear down the stars now and take up your guitars
And come on folks and try this at home.

Edmonton Setlist 

For more excellent pictures from the Edmonton 2018 show: Vue Weekly Live

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Anxiety & What (Imaginary) People Think

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That’s me wearing the vest I tailored from a thrift store denim jacket, & most of the patches are made from an old shirt and paint.

I’ll level with you, I hate pictures of myself.

I take a selfie or someone takes a picture of me and I look at it and say, “that’s not me.” It’s not that I necessarily dislike the picture, it just looks wrong. What I see is not what I picture when I think of myself. A tiny part of it is stuff like my weight, but the bigger part of it is self-esteem laced with anxiety. My smile doesn’t look sincere, or I look completely uncomfortable despite feeling fine.

I know my self-esteem needs work, but I also know I’ve come a LONG way from the meek, scared, don’t rock the boat girl from small town Nova Scotia. Attitude wise I’m better, yet every picture I still see that side of myself and I haven’t been able to fix it. How can I make the outside look like the inside?

I’ve tried different things. Dressing more formally? Weird. Less feminine? I hit a combination masculine and feminine that I liked, but I worried that others thought it too masculine or too immature. Then, was I punk enough? Just like when I was scared to admit I was fangirling over Blink-182, these imaginary people (fueled mostly by my anxiety, the media and people criticizing new fans) whose opinions apparently mean so much to me, were holding me back.

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Product Review: BASKETCASE Eyeliner

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Some people asked me to let them know how the Basketcase eyeliner was. I started writing this as a facebook post and then it got away from me and became a full-on blog post. I tried the eyeliner out Saturday just for fun since I knew I didn’t have to be anywhere and then wore it to work today. No pictures because I’m still awful at applying makeup, even anti-precision black eye makeup.

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Good & Less Than Good Review

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Representation & My Search For the 13th Doctor of Bass Players

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I keep talking about music, in life and in this blog, because it’s what’s on my mind. I podcast about music, listen to as much music as I can (for the podcast and because I feel like I have 20 years’ worth to catch up on) and I love the fact that I’m practicing my bass at least every second day to stay sane not just because I “should”. So, with that in mind I wasn’t expecting thoughts about representation relating to Doctor Who and the new, upcoming female Doctor to necessarily enter into the equation because of music. I thought I had made up my mind and come to a fair point of neutrality even if I couldn’t quite understand why the gender of the Doctor was that important to these people. Wasn’t the most important concern whether she was the best actress for the job? (Spoiler: yes, and…)

The word representation was brought to me time and time again in response to this question. I thought I had a good idea of what representation meant.  I thought I was savvy on this kinda thing. I actively try to listen to bands and surround myself in people that promote positive messages, whether that’s fighting sexism, racism, homophobia, fascism and/or just making sure their fans know that treating others badly isn’t cool. It’s punk to call people out on that nonsense. I may have understood the definition of representation, but I didn’t understand the meaning.

So, I wasn’t expecting the frustration I would encounter when I was trying to find representation. I just wanted a band to watch & listen to that had a member that was like me. Could I not become a bassist as part of a band? Logically I knew that my gender shouldn’t stop me,  I can do anything. Still, there is a kind of magic of imagining yourself on a big stage playing perfectly while you struggle through the same song for the umpteenth time. I wanted to read about someone else’s struggles, give myself inspiration to keep practicing and eventually find a group. I knew picking up the instrument that bassists need bands; it’s not a solo instrument, so where were they?

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this is my culture man, this is my home.

This past weekend marked a few firsts in my life, all revolving around music and concert-going. 2017 is the year of the “real me” and my goal is to pepper the year with new experiences and adventures outside my comfort zone. I recognize that a few of the things I did were firsts for people when they were teenagers. I was only concerned with school and grades as a teenager. I got a great GPA in everything but social skills and having fun.

Last year I bought a ticket for a concert featuring Frank Turner & the Sleeping Souls opening and the Arkells headlining in Edmonton this month. This was less than a year after I saw Frank and the Souls for the first time.  Also less than a year after I went to my first concert by myself.

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Self Care: A Happy Things Post

Hey there reader, doing OK? I know a lot of crap is going on right now regardless of where you live. Some places have it worse than others. We need to stand together, there’s a reason #resist and #persist have been trending on twitter and people are striking out to make sure their voices are heard.

However, self care is important. Pepsi agrees.

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With all that anger and sadness in the world I find myself posting pictures of fluffy animals and silly fangirly things to try to help those that just need a break. It’s not meant to take away from the serious stuff going on; it’s important to keep fighting, but if you don’t have a light break once in a while the darkness is harder to hold back.

So I bring you a “Happy Things Post”. Like on Verity! These are things making me happy in the world right now. They’re from different fandoms and some will indeed be blushingly fangirly. Some are old and only now grabbing my attention. No shame people. No shame. Just happiness. Let these happy things inspire you to find your own or share in mine.

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BellLetsTalk Day

Mental health & illness is something near and very dear to my heart. Every year on this day people talk and share about their own experiences with mental health, in hopes that it maybe helps someone. Here goes…

I have rapid cycling type II bipolar disorder, anxiety & panic attacks. That diagnosis are labels that I live with just like I’m also a big sister, a daughter, a partner, and a Maritimer. Like other diseases I take meds everyday and I will never be cured.

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