Real Friends Live Review

Real Friends Live Review | “Putting Myself Back Together” | Park Ave CDs, Orlando, FL | March 21, 2016

by • March 23, 2016

I hate Florida. I am alone here. The people in Orlando think they have this up and coming city on their hands and it’s really just a small stepping stone to a bigger pond, an estuary to LA or Austin or Atlanta. Everyone has crafted their own niche, carved out their own space and there is no space for me. “Dad, come get me, please. I have tried and done everything I can to make this work. I hate it here… I just… I just need to come home, “

I muster these words through a quivering lip, my green eyes welling over. I stood in my roommate’s and I 4×4 shower that night letting the water scald my back until my knees couldn’t take the irregular heaving of my chest anymore; I stifled my sounds until there was no difference between my saltwater and the shower water. I was not giving up. I was not giving up. I was giving up.

It had been what felt like the longest four months of my life since I moved from Pennsylvania to the foreign land of Orlando, FL. I graduated from a college up North and didn’t want to live with my parents anymore; that’s what I told everyone. And in turn, everyone told me, “You’re so brave. You’re really doing it.” I didn’t feel brave; I knew I was just running away. I’m not sure what I was doing, besides guiding stuffy patrons to their table at a local restaurant. I most certainly was not doing the all encompassing ‘it’ people thought. The only thing I was doing was falling apart.

Enter Real Friends, Fall of 2014. I don’t remember how I found this band. Perhaps, it can only be described dramatically as fated. Their whiny, punk sound made me feel ignited, albeit my sense of loneliness in this new city. It spoke, or rather shouted to me, the feelings I shoved down and away into the dark yet ever present recesses of myself. “Late Nights in my Car” found me just like its title, screaming the words I needed, If you never break, you’ll never how to put yourself back together.

The Illinois based band was coming to Park Ave CDs to play an acoustic set November 17th, 2014, the day my Dad would fly down and help me pack up to get the hell out. The perfect send off. The day was approaching. Thank God. Peace out Orlando. You’ve given me nothing but empty, drunken nights and shallow bathroom friends. Sayonara “City Beautiful.” I will miss the Farmer’s Market on Sunday’s and brick laid streets of Thornton Park but I can’t stay here anymore. Your lack of seasons baffles me but okay, when it’s not too hot, an October night here can bring a warmth to the hollows of otherwise unsettled bones. Shit. No, I’m going. I’m leaving here. I plop in my headphones and go for a run.

“Living in the past never helped me
Or anyone move forward
There’s no love, no growth for me here
Anymore, anymore
I still love you mom and dad
But I feel more at home
when I’m away from here
I’ll never find anything in this dead place.

The sound of my Father’s heart hitting the floor was audible through the phone, simultaneously breaking my own.

“I’m not … I’m not leaving. Not now. I need to do this.

He flew down anyway and I ended up missing the Real Friends show at Park Ave that night, trying to show him all the reasons I was falling in love with this place. Finding ways to let him know his daughter was doing this on her own.


Last night I stood in line on this crisp March evening outside Park Ave CDs, knees shaking with a year-and-a-half worth of anticipation. I had seen Real Friends at The Beacham and Venue 578 respectively since I decided to stay in Florida, but this, this was different. This was the show I never got to see because I had been too busy being in limbo; somewhere between the safety of a space I’ve always known, and the new space I was trying to create for myself. On the cusp. (I know I speak/write like the world is ending but WHAT IF IT IS?! Every single day ending, closer to whatever fiery carriage is to carry us off out of this place. Is now an appropriate time to say YOLO? Do the kids still say YOLO? Well, mothafu*ckin’ YOLO. If we’re dying every day then make sure you’re killing yourself doing what you love. #endrant)

If we’re dying every day then make sure you’re killing yourself doing what you love.

The long line of flannel shirts, heavy eyeliner, and dark lipstick weaved its way into the record store and I placed myself amongst the angsty crowd. It’s not always been easy to defend this band. I’m 23 years old and people almost half my age were next to me eagerly whispering about how they skipped class to be here. I reached my punk phase later in life, I suppose.

What a Wannabe right?! ^^ | Real Friends Live Review 2016

What a Wannabe right?! ^^

It made me feel embarrassed at times, was I too old for this? A conversation with a recent staffer made me laugh as he jabbed some lighthearted truths, “Like how are you 30 and still dress like you’re on your way to the metrosexual skate park?” It’s not false. The punk scene is riddled with a stench that reeks of teenage rebellion. If you like pop punk then you must be coasting on your penny, cutting class, rolling your eyes at your parents restrictions and curfews. It’s hard to find authenticity in this scene. Real Friends have found it and I found it when I needed it.

We’re music users, all of us. We find words, melodies, songs that ring true for us at a point in our lives and we used them for what we need. Last night, Dan Lambton, lead singer, reverberated that sentiment to the crowd.

There is no such thing as guilty pleasures in music. Don’t ever let someone make you feel bad for liking a certain kind of music. I know what we do isn’t for everyone but whatever is for you is yours, and fu*k what anyone else thinks.” 

Real Friends Live Review 2016 | Dan Lambton talking to the crowd. PREACH.

Dan Lambton talking to the crowd. PREACH.

They started the set with a song they normally close with when attempting to end on a high note, but not tonight. Tonight, the “Sad Boyz” treated us to “Late Nights in my Car” to start the evening. The only barrier between us and the guys were the half shelves holding the store’s inventory of eclectic CDs.

“I know that this is kind of an odd set up but I want you guys to jump the hell up. Get up and move in here,” Kyle, lead guitarist, begs of the crowd.

We oblige and squish our bodies together screaming the words of “I Don’t Love You Anymore.”

I’M JUST A KID WITH TOO MUCH LONELY SPACE!

This is just what I needed. 23. 16. 75. I’m still that kid with a tinge of feeling like I’m homesick … like I’m at a loss for my place in this world. This scene may feel inauthentic or for a younger generation at times, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t feel the most self aware that I’ve felt in awhile last night, listening to these songs. Their set was sprinkled with new songs from their forthcoming Summer 2016 album and we were asked not to take video or record.

“Be in the moment with us. Let these songs just exist with only these people in this room tonight.” Lambton cheesed his puppy dog grin, pushing the hair of his face thanking us for being a part of this thing, this journey they’ve taken.

The night carried on and I could smell my deodorant wearing off as I punched the air with my hands. If my smell was bothering the close punks around me, they didn’t say anything; thank you new, kind friends. You experienced the smell of pure, unadulterated happiness. The set was coming to a close and the band said they had one more song for us. “Loose Ends!” an eager girl yells in front of me. Dan smiles, “Yes, how did you know?” We press ourselves together one more time, strangers only in name. Except, like the true teenage rebels we are, we arrogantly asked for one more song. The chant began. Please Mom and Dad, just one more hour later. They bend the curfew. “Ok, fine, but if you know the words I want to hear you fu*king sing them as loud as you can.” No problem.

It’s been a lonely year
It’s been a lonely year
It’s been a lonely year
It’s been a lonely year.”


I was running when I came here. I’m not afraid to say that now. My hometown was a cesspool of memories too painful to bear any longer. Every street I drove was another street I’d never drive again with you and I was slowly sinking into a scary void of complacency. A well of sadness in my chest that never seemed to be empty but instead, was brimming to the top, spilling over — Ask me about it. I’ll tell you. I’ll share my story. I’ll share how this city, this band, these words became my solace when I needed it the most.

I waited in line to meet the singer and tears were reaching my eyes as I told Dan about how his music made me feel at home.

“That’s what it’s for, a community,” he said to me, never leaving my gaze once. We hugged and as I left him I mentioned how he said at their Venue 578 show that “you should never feel alone at a show; that these strangers were your friends.”

“Exactly. Except, fuck that place. Security was just awful to the fans. We’ll never play there again but yes, you’re not alone,” he says.

After that show I wrote a piece about being a girl alone at a punk show. I closed with this:

“My friends were already out on the floor waiting for me, yelling the words in broken unison that connected us; a chain link fence of misfits and as I stepped through the venue doors, I was home.

Regardless of how old I am, I will always come back to this music. It’s not about tight jeans or a Peter Pan refusal to grow up. It’s the youth inside of us that refuses to give up that sense of wonder, like when we were little. You were never afraid to take big leaps; over puddles, off curbs without training wheels, swiveling your toe into the pavement asking your crush “yes…no…?” There was a fight in us before we felt the defeat of reality that can come with a couple more years on earth. It is still there, even if quietly, pushing us towards doing the things that scare the living shit out of us.

I left that show shaking with fear and I’ve never felt better.

Me pictured with lead singer Dan Lambton

Me pictured with lead singer of Real Friends, Dan Lambton

Real Friends Live Review by Sarah “Sweaty Septum” Schumaker.

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