PHOTOS: Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls Rock The Gaslight Social
I'm trying to get better cause I haven't been my best. She took a plain black marker, started writing on my chest. She drew a line across the middle of my broken heart and said 'Come on now, let's fix this mess. We could get better. Because we're not dead yet.
The year was 2020. It wasn't a good year for your humble writer. The previous year, I had moved to New York (not the city...about 80 miles outside of it) with a girlfriend. I had visions of grandeur in my head. While my girlfriend did super smart medical surgery things (I was never quite sure what she actually did...possibly part of the reason why we broke up), I would work with the poor and oppressed while simultaneously building up my writing career.
For a while, it was really good. Until it wasn't. We broke up. And suddenly, the city with such potential felt like a prison - one that I desperately needed to escape. I quit my job with the non-profit, packed up my car (leaving, like A LOT of stuff behind because it was too expensive to move) and came back home to Casper with my tail between my legs.
I asked for my old job back, moved into an apartment right behind where I worked, and spent the next 6 months living as a ghost, only coming out of my apartment to go work an 8-10 hour shift at a psych hospital...also not a great venture for someone dealing with mental health stuff themselves.
The apartment itself was the most depressing part. I called it my "Divorced Dad Apartment," because that's exactly what it looked like. I left my furniture back in New York because it was too expensive to move, so I bought a three piece set from a secondhand store that might have looked good in the early 90s. In 2020, it just looked...sad. I kept my blinds closed, I kept my boxes packed and I did my best to keep my head above water.
The depression was real. Depression is something I've always struggled with, but it was especially bad during those first few months of 2020. Plus, there was that whole pandemic thing, meaning I couldn't see any of my friends or family in person. So I would wake up, go to work, come home, and go to sleep. My cat was my only source of companionship (to be fair, he pretty much still is. I'm his special soldier and he's my little gentleman).
I've struggled with mental health issues for years. It's just a part of life that I deal with. I stopped drinking 7 years ago because I was using alcohol to distract myself from my life, and I was using it to silence that tiny but mighty voice in my head that said "You're not good enough. Nobody likes you. You are unworthy and unloved."
I don't think I was ever actively suicidal, but there were certainly nights where the idea of killing myself comforted me to sleep. I think anybody with mental health issues can relate to that. We may not necessarily want to kill ourselves but the idea that we could if we really wanted to, was comforting.
Which is why, when I came across an album on Apple Music called 'Positive Songs for Negative People,' I was immediately enthralled. That's exactly what I was at that point in my life.
I had never heard of Frank Turner before, but from the very first song on that album, I was hooked.
It was one song, in particular, that really spoke to me. That song was called 'Get Better,' and that's exactly what I was trying to do.
They threw me a whirlwind. And I spat back the sea. I took a battering but I've got thicker skin and the best people I know are looking out for me.
- Frank Turner
That song, that one song, inspired me to pull myself up. It helped me get out of bed in the morning and open the blinds, letting a little bit of light into my crappy apartment but, more importantly, into my life. In short, it helped me get better.
Every single day, for months, I would start my day by listening to that song. It became my anthem. And, eventually, things got better. I moved out of my Divorced Dad Apartment into, what I believe, is the coolest apartment in town (and one that I'm not going to divulge here because people in comment sections are weird and scary and they do not need to know where I live). I also started working for K2 Radio News, which is all I've ever wanted to do. I've only ever wanted to be a writer and now that's exactly what I get to do, every single day.
But Frank Turner has never been far from my side. Any time I have a bad day, or a bad week, or I'm just feeling somewhat down in the dumps, I throw on 'Positive Songs for Negative People' and almost immediately feel better.
Which is why I was thrilled when I found out Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls would be playing a show at The Gaslight Social on July 19, 2022. I never thought that would happen. Turner and his band are from England; what would the chances be of them even knowing where Wyoming was, let alone playing a show there?
Well, the chances were pretty good because that's exactly what they did and the people loved it. The Gaslight Social felt like a New York CBGB club in the '80s on that night. There were people in their twenties, all the way to their sixties, wearing converse shoes and tight black t-shirts, throwing up their fists in the air in a defiant challenge. It was a punk rock show, in all the best ways.
After the opening bands, Pet Needs and The Bronx, prepared the crowd accordingly (they did a phenomenal job in their own right), Turner and his Sleeping Souls took the stage and for just a couple hours, I wasn't a writer. I wasn't a reporter. I wasn't a photographer (though the photos I took during the show were pretty dope, and you can see them below). I was just a depressed kid at a rock show. And I let his music surround me, like a symphony of musical therapy.
It was awesome.
And I wasn't the only one that thought that. The crowd was alive for the entire set, singing along, dancing, moshing, and more. It was one of the best show The Gaslight Social put on, which is really saying something because they have proven themselves to be an excellent venue for live music over the last couple of years.
For me, this was more than just a rock show. It was a reminder of where I was, and where I am now. Most importantly, it was a reminder that no matter what happens to us, no matter how deep into depression we fall, no matter how hopeless we feel, we can get better.
Because we're not dead yet.
Photos from the show can be seen below: