The lyrics, “we’re all monsters living in a dream,” resonated through the car as my mother drove down the highway. The cars rushed by us and I wondered if they could feel the anxious teetering of a seventeen-year-old girl on her way to see the loves of her life for the second time live. One glance into my life was all it took for someone to see my undying love for the Maine. My walls were covered with their posters and I knew exactly what tattoos the lead singer had and where he had them. I collected their band tees and merchandise galore and I bought magazines I had never heard of before, all because they would be featured on half a page. When the Maine released new albums I would listen to them start to finish in the darkness of my room; by the end I would be crying tears of pride and joy. My friends and family called it an unhealthy obsession. I called it the life of a devoted fangirl.
This particular day was special to me because it was the first concert I was going to alone. I asked two of my friends to come with me to the previous Maine concert, and they ended up vomiting in the restroom throughout the whole thing. Filled with guilt, I decided that if anyone was going to puke while listening to amazing music, it would and should be me. By the time I reached the venue I was an hour and thirty minutes early, but the line was still snaked around the building. I initially felt out of place because I was the olive green outlier in a sea of heavy black leather jackets. The nipping November wind showed no mercy to the queue; fortunately, I was able to make small talk with the people in front of me until we were finally admitted into the building.
After what seemed like an eternity, the Maine finally strode onto the stage and the room exploded with satisfied screams and outstretched arms. I found myself holding my breath because it was unbelievable seeing them in person after watching hours of YouTube footage. The concert in its entirety was beautiful and peculiar: head banging along with the band, hearing the room fill with a chorus of passion as everyone sang along, witnessing bras being thrown on stage and getting hung off of microphone stands, and looking on in amusement as the bodyguards grabbed the crowd surfers down, only to have them riding the hands of the group once more. As the Maine reached their final song on the set list, we put all we had in joining the heavy guitar riffs and strong vocals singing, “stay away, sweet misery.”
Knowing that the Maine meets with their fans after every show, I ran out of the building as soon as the concert ended. I met the guitarist Jared Monaco, and the biggest smile lit up his face when I told him he was my inspiration while I showed him my guitar necklace that he had signed at the last concert. I also met John O’Callaghan—the lead singer and by far the most popular. As the line to meet him dwindled down, I could hardly breathe and I couldn’t remember what I wanted to say to him. When my turn arrived and he landed his eyes on me and said, “hey,” I rambled with something along the lines of, “Hi I’m Joomi and this is my second time seeing you guys live but my first time meeting you and y’all are really great live and you guys are my favorite band and could you sign my notebook and could I also get a picture and hug, please?” He complied with all my requests and it was spectacular because anyone could have a normal conversation with these band members. They were so grateful for us as we were to them.
Before I went to sleep that night, I opened my notebook of signatures and found that John O’Callaghan had written, “Always love.” And it was then that I realized that the Maine not only created music, but also a safe haven for fans to connect and experience life together. The little things that day had radiated so much kindness. When a petite lady asked if she could move up a row, everyone let her all the way to the front. Since I had gone to the concert alone, random fans offered to take photos of me with the members, as well. It didn’t take much reflection to see that the Maine is constantly growing through their music, and that their fans are growing up with them. From light lyrics in their earlier albums such as “sunlight, sunshine, all for you my daisy” to heavier lyrics in their more recent ones like, “I don’t think I’ll ever be happy,” the Maine offers a raw understanding of every mood and situation. I finally dozed off that night knowing that there are Directioners, there are Beliebers, and then there are Maineiacs, and my heart swelled knowing that I was one of them.
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