Finding my group beyond ETHS

Sophie Gomez, Staff Writer

One thing I learned from my time at ETHS is that you may not find your so-called “group” and that’s okay. When I first started high school,I was anxious about whether I’d like my teachers or if I would even enjoy high school in general. More specifically, will I make any friends? That thought crossed my mind all the time. I was that kid who loved music and wore band shirts. That was my way of expressing myself and how I usually met people through our shared  interest in music. 

Back in middle school, I never had many friends and the transition into a big school made me feel hopeful that’d change. Not many days after starting school, I was wearing an Asking Alexandria shirt and this guy in my sign language class commented about it. Who knew that’d be my first friend who shared the same taste in music as me. Not many people would think a t-shirt could be a way of meeting someone new. We even went to a couple concerts together. I took him to see twenty one pilots and he took me to see Avenged Sevenfold and Metallica. That was the kind of friendship I’d been waiting for. He was a junior; I was a freshman and unfortunately, he wasn’t someone I got to spend my four years with, but we’re still good friends. Other than him, I never met anyone else who I considered a close friend at ETHS. Yes I had “school friends”, you know the type of friends you’ll see at school get some answers to homework, but other than that, no outside contact. 

Freshman and sophomore year went by and nothing exciting happened. For me, it was go to school, that’s it. I always went to concerts and it would be the highlight of my day. I remember it was October 2016; my brother and I went to see Sum 41 (his favorite band that got him through high school). I went to school for two periods and left to go wait in line at the venue. After I left school, nothing else mattered. I didn’t care if I failed that test because I knew later that night I’d be having the time of my life. During the first two years of high school, I would try to attend a show at least once a month or every couple months. 

The summer going into my junior year, my mom came up with an idea for me to create a blog for me to talk about all the concerts I go to. I  went for it. I released my blog called SMGViews on July 22, 2017. This was the day I went to a one-day fest: Van Warped Tour. That was the tour everyone who loved anything from rock, pop-punk, or metal went to and it happened every summer (until it ended in 2019). That was my first time going and it was special. I met some of my close friends at that show, and I landed my first ever interview with a local band called Private Instigators. The interview didn’t happen till a few months after we met, and it was a lot of fun. I was nervous, but it went super well. I try to construct an interview by not slamming them with questions but try to form a natural conversation. From that day, I knew this is what I wanted to do.

Local bands may not be something you may follow. Every artist started from somewhere. We all know Eminem started out rapping in a basement. It’s pretty similar; they’re just smaller bands playing at smaller venues. You’ll never see these people playing at the United Center. I mean, hey, you never know. I picked up doing interviews for my blog spring of 2018. The first few bands I interviewed were Private Instigators (met them at Warped), Aerius (no longer a band), and Infamous Martyrs. In little time, people started to reach out to me for interviews, and it was crazy. It’s different reaching out for an interview rather than someone reaching out to you. So I started making new connections, meeting people and promoting my blog more. I usually tend to do these interviews at the band’s show. 

A lot of these shows were no more than twenty bucks and the crowd was decent. These bands’ music was killer and I really fell in love with the community. Everyone is so supportive of one another and that’s what really intrigued me. I found myself going to more of these shows. After meeting Aerius, I pretty much went to all of their shows. Now they’re not a band anymore, but they all have their other music projects and I still go to their shows. I continued going to larger shows as well, especially at the House of Blues. Although a majority of the shows I attended were local, at each show I’d meet someone new. If I really digged their music, I’d go up to them and offer to set up an interview or message them. 

To my knowledge, there was no one else doing this whole blog thing at ETHS or in the scene covering local music. Anyone I met welcomed me with open arms. Over these past two, going on three years, I’ve had so many opportunities I never thought I’d have. All access passes to Vans Warped Tour, interviewing larger bands like Belmont and Grayscale, and meeting friends that I know I will have for more than just my high school years. 

During my senior year, I took senior studies, which I highly recommend. I never felt like I could be myself in school. I took this class and I was able to express myself and share my love for this music with my classmates. I created a photo book documenting the local shows I go to, and it was the first time I felt accepted in a classroom. The end product was just as I had envisioned, and I couldn’t ask for better support along the way from the amazing Ms.Walker and Mr. Allen. I never had teachers push me to go after something I’m passionate about. And lucky enough, I could go to local shows, do interviews and it’ll all count as school work. That was just wow, amazing. 

This local scene has done so much for me. A show could fix any bad day. I want people to know that they’re not alone, that there’s tons of people with the same interests, but you may have to venture out of school for it. I always say I hated high school, but while the school part was trash, during this time, I found who I was. I never changed to fit in. I stayed true to myself and I’m proud of what all of this hard work I’ve done has gotten me. I had finally found my so-called “group.” 

Me with local band dad hat.

Here is a list of bands I think everyone should check out because those are the homies and if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be where I am. Plus some other bands that are worth a listen. Absence of Mine, Absent Mind, Action/Adventure, Anxious, Authentic Pines, Bad Planning, Bad Blood, Belmont, Brian Sees Stars, Bovice, Buggin, Cleveland Avenue, Chain of Torment, Cliffhanger, Dad Hat, DARE, Division Point, Dogma Soup, El Famous, Fluorescents, Free Throw, Giveway, Grayscale, Heart to Gold, Heartfelt, Heartstopper, Higher Power, The Homecoming, Hot Mulligan, Inclination, Initiate, Kharma, Knocked Loose, Life’s Question, LUCA, Magnitude, Meet Me @ The Altar, Mock Nine, Movements, No Option, One Step Closer, Porcupine, Purgatory, Raccoon Junior, Remo Drive, Restraining Order, Rotting Out, Scarlet Demore, Stairways, Station 6, Sunami, Time and Pressure, Who Knows?, Wilmette and Wolf Rd