May 14, 2015 | by Andrew Biernacki

I feel weird approaching bands at shows. There, I said it. I have listened to the songs countless times: connecting emotionally to the lyrics, enjoying the sensory experience delivered through the sound of shredding guitars colliding with roaring vocals. I buy the albums on every available format, wear the band names on articles of clothing, tattoo something related to them on my skin, sing along, even face to face, while playing live. But talk to a band, and tell them how much they mean to me and how much I enjoy their music? Now, that’s just ridiculous!

There is this odd notion that you can adore a band in private, but need to play it cool in public. Overly cool. So cool, it’s almost like you don’t even know the band you paid to see is in the same building as you. Ignoring the fact that 30 seconds into that certain song still makes your skin tingle, or you shed tears at a particular line in the chorus. Going up to a band and letting them know you’re a fan, thanking them for the art they poured their time, effort, and musical souls into, would obviously be annoying them… right? Why risk being seen as a ”that guy/girl/person” amongst your peers? With that way of thinking, seemingly self-imposed, are we creating a stigma that says giving thanks and appreciation in public isn’t cool?

Reasons of avoiding go beyond the cool factor. You would talk to a band, but don’t want to come off as awkward, or don’t know how to phrase things in person, compared to the way you could in writing, whether due to nerves, excitement, or anxiety. Perhaps you never even got to see the band live; or you have, and regret not saying something, or said something, and wish you had the courage or social skills to say more (not that you have to say anything at all, if you can’t or don’t want to, of course). Maybe you just never had the right time or place, but there’s still a story you want to tell. Naturally, the internet is the perfect venue to gush what you wanted to share about a band.

On an early, autumn morning, during my junior year of college, I sat on the cold, tiled floor, in a static-white hallway, beside the locked door to my Secondary Education Measurements class. It was exactly as fun as it sounds. A young woman dressed in black, holding a bagged breakfast, walked down the corridor and sat across from me. As I watched her pull a jalapeno bagel, topped with jalapeno cream cheese, out of a crinkly paper wrapping, I noticed the faded grey ink on her hooded sweatshirt: “None More Black.” Surely it couldn’t be in reference to the band led by the former Kid Dynamite frontman Jason Shevchuk. I was the only one in the University’s education program who listened to punk, never mind the likes of melodic hardcore gems like File Under Black, Loud About Loathing and This is Satire. (Icons hadn’t been released yet). Between the eye-watering bites of her seriously spicy bagel, I interjected, “None More Black, like… the band?” She confirmed, then immediately took a gulp of Snapple to cool her heated, bagel-chewing mouth.

The time it took to become best friends was one quick blur, and a few months later, we were on our way see None More Black, live in New York. It was an adventure I would never forget, trying to find parking on the streets of Brooklyn, my first (and last) White Castle experience (during my carnivorous days), seeing a man snatched out of a car, slammed on the hood of a taxi, and beat up at a no-right-turn-on-red intersection (sorry, state of New York, the turn was made, and rather quickly), but, best of all, finally seeing None More Black in person. At the first distorted strum, I was engulfed by punks and she retreated to the back as I tried to keep my footing in a fury of flailing bodies and raised fists. Somehow, in that raucous, sweat drenched pit, I ended up directly in front of Shevchuk, singing along to some of my favorite songs.

After that night, we went to New York again, a few years later, to see the band, and I would eventually see them at Fest 10 without her, but that first time was really something special. As I reminisce, I think of the connections I’ve made. During that trip, I met her first pug (RIP), I met her family, which I now consider my own; the show happened to be Generic Insight Fest, and I would go on to meet the awesome woman who put it all together, at The Fest in Gainesville, FL (hey, Barrie!); which also resulted in a social media default picture from the show that I haven’t changed since 2010 (thanks, Genna Howard!); and, most importantly, a treasured friendship, that, to this date, has lasted through five years, four states, three time zones, two countries, and whatever else came our way.

I can go on and on about how every incarnation of None More Black created music that I’ve jammed out to for years, or how the releases ran parallel to what was going on inside my mind, or how much I appreciate Shevchuk’s poetic artistry, vocabulary, and delivery (seriously, who integrates the word “antihistamine” so smoothly in a song?), or even how I’m amused that the song titles on Icons are made up of Howard Stern show references. But in that brief, fleeting, “Hey, great job tonight, I really like you guys,” I had the courage to muster up and pass along at a show, how could I ever describe to None More Black the butterfly effect they have helped spawn, resulting in the hilarious, emotional, and utterly ridiculous happenings that I continually cherish with my best friend? Well, now I have. Thank you for being a band, None More Black.

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