Walking into the Paradise Rock Club, I didn’t know what to expect. The weather was cold, and I wasn’t sure how many people would be willing to walk the streets of Boston to see the many performers. Little did I know how much of an impact To Write Love on Her Arms has on the Boston community as well as the entire Nation.
As the last of the crowd flooded in for the Heavy and Light Tour and comfortably found their spots, a slideshow appeared on stage. According to the screen, Jamie Tworkowski, the mastermind and founder of TWLOHA, wanted to start the show with words. Inspirational words flashed across the screen as the crowd watched in silence. These words told us that we need to believe in our own story and never give up on it because it matters and because we are all important and we have something to offer to the world.
The words hung in the air as the slideshow came to an end and Anis Mojgani, a spoken word poet, recited one of his poems. The crowd broke the silence and went wild as he spoke. After he finished Now, Now took the stage and performed a set of songs that included “Dead Oaks” and “The Pull”. In between songs, the band liked to talk with the audience and joke around with one another. They talked about their love for Harry Potter, Backstreet Boys, and when the microphone made a high-pitched noise, Cacie Dalager (vocals and guitar) tried to lighten up the situation and said, “That was my heart screaming because I’m so happy.”
After Now, Now, Will Anderson, the lead singer of Parachute, came on stage to perform. The crowd sang along with his song “Kiss Me Slowly” and other famous Parachute songs, as well as some John Mayer songs, which Will called “baby-making music.” He talked about how he met Jamie, the founder of TWLOHA (They both liked surfing and girls so it worked), and he talked about how he had family struggling with the same problems that the concert was trying to benefit, which is why he got involved and why the tour meant so much to him.
The Lone Bellows took the stage after Will and powered through their songs. Although they did not talk much between each song, they put all their heart and soul into their performance and kept it very simple and sweet. They sang some of their popular songs like “You Never Need Nobody,” “Green Eyes and a Heart of Gold,” and “Tree to Grow.”
The next performer was Anthony Raneri and Jack O’Shea from Bayside. As per usual, the crowd went wild as they began to perform. They liked to joke around on stage, and Jack talked about how happy he was to go to this one Chinese restaurant in Cambridge that he hadn’t been to in years. Anthony sang some of the songs off of his new EP, such as “Sandra Partial” and many songs from Bayside’s album. At one point, he and Jack asked the audience what songs they wanted to hear and whenever someone suggested a song, Anthony would always say, “That’s a good idea. I wished we had practiced it.” In the end, they tried to please the crowd and pick a favorite song that they had actually practice. It was great to see how many fans they had there supporting them.
Before the last performance, Jamie Tworkowski came on stage to talk to the audience about how he came up with the idea To Write Love on Her Arms. Before he began, he asked everyone to be silent because “there could be people that needed to hear what he was saying.” Jamie told all of us about a friend of his that struggled with depression and thoughts of suicide and how he documented her time in recovery. He started making T-shirts to help her, and when he was at a concert supporting his friend, Jon Foreman, Jon took one of the T-shirts and wore it during his concert. Later that night, millions of people were talking about To Write Love on Her Arms and buying the shirt. Jamie explained that people need to talk about their problems, but it’s hard because people with these kinds of problems are given stigmas in society and are looked at a certain way, which is why he believes people need to become more educated about the problems. He said, “People need to believe that they can get better because we all matter as much as every other person.”
After his speech, Jon Foreman (yes his friend that helped spread the word about TWLOHA) took the stage. He performed a couple songs by himself, such as “Dare to Love,” which he sang without a mic as the crowd sang together. The rest of his band, Fiction Family, then joined him on stage. He was excited to be in Boston because he had lived there for 7 years when he was younger. He interacted with the audience, and even pointed out a man’s Red Sox hat and talked about the team. They sang songs, such as “Avalon” and “Damaged.” For the song “Up Against the Wall”, he had the audience put their arms around the people they were standing next to and sway to the music. I watched as strangers came together and put aside their differences for their love of music, and it was truly an amazing site to see and experience.
Although I had never heard of most of these bands before, I absolutely enjoyed their music. Their lyrics were truly inspirational and touching. Each performance was just as good as the other. I also enjoyed the four poems that Anis Mojgani recited throughout the performance, and the speeches by an employee of TWLOHA and Jamie. I went to the venue expecting a regular concert and adding a few more songs to my iTunes later that night, but I left with so much more. I left with a better understanding of the struggles that many people face on a regular basis, and the words I can use to inspire myself and others. I highly recommend attending this show because you will gain so much more than just experience from this; not only will you gain a new found love of music, but you will gain a new understanding of your life and the importance you and everyone around you has in this world, and honestly, what more could you ask for?