REAL FRIENDS (USA) w/ With Confidence, Columbus, Strickland & The Playbook @ The Evelyn Hotel, June 2015

Without mum’s metaphorical hand to hold, my fourth session with Dr. Nicole was once again rocky with me getting awkward during the silent periods and finding it hard to use my natural voice in that setting. Every response that I gave came out shaky, disjointed and unclear. At least it ended up heading in a positive direction as we focused on unhelpful thinking patterns and ways to achieve my goal of developing satisfying friendships. But unlike my second session, I refused to get myself upset over how I perceived the session went. This is the furthest point I’ve ever gone when it comes to counseling so I really should be proud of that. It’s not easy opening up about yourself and your self. Tackling my inner demons is a very confronting process but at least I’m reaching out for help and doing something about it.

Today I really pushed myself out of my comfort zone by attending a lunch gathering at Four Figs in Beaconsfield. It was hosted by one of my yoga instructors and current owner of the Just Be yoga and meditation studio, Keren. During next term, she’s officially handing over the baton to new owner Michelle. Typically I was the first to arrive but was shortly joined by a lady I hadn’t met before. She’d only just started doing yoga this month and wanted to know my opinion on the studio. Two tables were booked and it didn’t take long for the seats to fill up. I saw quite a few ladies I recognised including yoga teachers Kelly and Marni.

It started getting difficult to relate and therefore contribute to the conversations that were going on around me. I was beginning to get flustered and slightly anxious but thankfully active listening helped ward off any temptation to bolt before I even ordered. Speaking of, I got myself the grilled fish fillets with chips, salad and tartare sauce. The one thing that puts me off social gatherings is the inability to relax but I was doing my best to do just that even when I was peppered with questions. The fact that I was the only guy there didn’t bother me though presumably because I’ve been brought up around women’s groups that my mum has been apart of. I’m really glad that I made the effort to come and put myself out there.

Of all the nights the Cranbourne and Pakenham train lines had to be down, it had to be tonight. Due to an accident involving a truck colliding into the boom gates near Dandenong station, replacement buses were ordered for both lines up to Dandenong station. I decided to leave for Merinda Park station early as I knew that I’d have to allow time for delays. After parking the car, I literally had less than 30 seconds to run to the replacement bus that just pulled up. Somehow I made it. I had another 20 minute wait for a Flinders Street train and then had to switch to a City Loop train with a minute to spare, somehow things were going in my favour.

Tonight’s gig at the Evelyn Hotel was sold out and it didn’t take long for the venue to start filling up. With some inner encouragement, I did some ice breaking with the guys from The Playbook. Starting conversations is still a challenge for me but at least I was trying. I bumped into a few other friends including Shaun, Owen, Geordie, Eleanor, Lincoln, Dave and Scooter. The vibes were all good ones and I was really feeling good about myself tonight.

THE PLAYBOOK…I haven’t seen this Melbourne based pop punk band play for a long, long time. There’s recently been a change in vocalist with Laura D’Urbano replacing Dave Parker. Laura was on fire tonight with her red-black locks, crop top and teal coloured jeans. She was really animated on stage and did a good job engaging and pumping up the crowd. Guitarist Jamie did punk jumps galore and really soared as backup vocalist. They played a handful of songs including new single Built to Break. Really glad that I got to see them play with the new lineup.

STRICKLAND…The boys killed it once again after playing an awesome set at last weekend’s Battle of the Bands show in Footscray. The setlist remained the same as they opened with Be Free, played their single The Fear and This Suffering and ended their set with The Only One. They were really on point tonight with plenty of infectious energy and sing-a-long moments throughout their set.

COLUMBUS…This was my second time seeing this Brisbane based emotive pop punk band play, my first being at Wrangler Studios. Their fast paced style with stream of consciousness lyrics really grabs your attention immediately. They played a few tracks off their new EP Home Remedy including the Downsides of Being Honest and the title track plus a few older songs such as Coffee.

WITH CONFIDENCE…This was my first time checking out this alternative pop-punk band from Sydney and I thought they played a very solid set. They did a great job engaging with the audience with several people in the crowd singing along and a few even moshing. They played a few tracks off their EP Distance with loads of intense energy and enthusiasm.

REAL FRIENDS…I’ve only ever heard of this emotive pop-punk band from Tinley Park, Illinois from word of mouth and I’ve only ever heard good things about them. I was absolutely blown away. There was a deep almost personal connection between the band and the audience with plenty of sing-a-longs, mic grabs, stage dives, jumping, circle pits, moshing and crowd surfing. It really went wild for their entire set. Between songs, there was a lot of comedic banter and jokes told. Playing tracks including Floorboards, Cover You Up and Summer, they never let the energy die even once. Plus they also did an encore of Skeletons, which was one of the first tracks they’ve ever written as a band.

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