By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
Not surprisingly, the audience for The Vanished skews heavily toward the Converse-and-black-hoodies set. At a recent concert at Virgin Megastore, part of the chain's nationwide tsunami benefit, I am practically the oldest person in the audience, alongside kids with braces and acne, kids with hair gelled into Mohawks or a kind of stiff origami.
Amid one of the between-song pauses, a girl in the audience inexplicably yells out something about being a lesbian, and Kirkwood responds by saying, "Are you a lesbian? Cool. Embrace that. Embrace that about yourself." It's half-jokey front man patter, but he means it, too. And I start to realize that these are probably not the popular kids, the student council kids; instead, they are the freaks and the drama geeks and the AP nerds and the ones who will grow up to be the most interesting people. And while I might hear banal angst in songs like "Latchkey Princess" and "The Anatomy of Desperation," they hear real stories about the strangeness of adulthood, about parents who disappoint and abandon, about kids who flail and flounder. After listening to "My Favorite Scar" an estimated five gazillion times, I am surprised to hear Kirkwood say it is not just about a romantic breakup--it is also about the mother who left him at 6 years old and the relative who died in an accident. "Wake me when it's over," the indelible chorus goes. "Tell me when the feeling's gone. I always knew that you'd be my favorite scar."
And the kids know every word. Although the band often opens its set with the single, on Thursday, it's the closer, and when they launch into it, a few of the kids hold their cell phones aloft and shoot pictures of the band. They are bouncing on their toes and swaying and mouthing every lyric. And, as it turns out, so am I.
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