no. 40 — No Dogs Allowed by Sidney Gish

All the words I can come up with to describe Sidney Gish fall flat. “Quirky,” “Funny,” “Smart,” “Weird,” none of these are correct but all of them are true. Every time I’ve seen her in person or spoken to her at the merch table, I’m surprised by how awkward she is[1], especially given how smooth her music is. Her songs are funny and personal and actively make me laugh whenever I listen to them. Her sense of humor comes across so strongly in her music that you don’t expect her to be a person who has not necessarily perfected the art of small talk to fans. Not that I would know how to do that, as someone who is writing this article for barely anyone besides my mom to read. Truthfully, any conversation I’ve had with her just makes me like her music more. It’s clear that she is fully herself both on and off the stage, a rarity I find valuable and honest.

I’m talking as if I know her personally, but I obviously do not. I’ve seen her a few times, the first when she opened for Mitski’s album release tour in New England[2]. I’ve spoken with her a handful of times, and I follow her on social media, so it feels like I know her. There exists that strange barrier between a fan and an honest artist, wherein you’re strangers, but one party has weirdly intimate understanding of the other. The way she writes songs, however, really grows the sense of “knowing” her. Take for instance, the lyrics to “Mouth Log,” a song in which she explains her notes app lists and how she feels aimless, floating along unsure if this is what her life is supposed to be like. She says, “If I thrive best in hate machines / And shallow tabloid magazines / And groups for memes where everyone fights / And tries to make straight white boys cry / Then will I die still swallowing / All sides of conflict? Possibly.” Like, I’m sorry, is that not the perfect fucking snippet of what it feels like to be a 20-something in the year of 2021? Granted this album was released in 2017, but it’s still so pertinent. Another lyric from that song, “But I hate class, and I hate work / And doing nothing’s even worse / But I still curse and complain every day.” It is *chef’s kiss*.

Maybe it’s that she wrote these lyrics while in college at Northeastern University that make them so relatable, but I’ve been out of college for two years now[3] and these words still ring true. I listened to this entire album on my way to my first day of work at a Big Boy Office job because it perfectly captured the anxiety, doubt, and relief I felt. The song “I Eat Salads Now” especially helped that morning, because it oscillates between that businessman confidence and the absolute dread of the rest of life. “I’m a businessman I don’t waste time on any shit” paired alongside the line “I’m 20, washed up already / And all I wanna do is sit” is a PERFECT dichotomy. The song ends with the line “And then come home and probably die!” Let me tell you, that is exactly how I feel. That drive to the office, I felt officially washed up, like all the good stuff had already happened and I had sold myself out to corporate America to enter the infinite monotony of the rest of my life. Sidney Gish said all of that but with a sense of humor, letting me feel everything I felt while not taking myself too seriously and leaving me in a good enough mood to be pleasant and not too anxious while meeting my coworkers. That is talent.

Maybe Sidney Gish will have moved onto a new project and won’t find interest in music anymore like she predicts in “Mouth Log,” but I hope that’s not the case. Watching her build loops and harmonies on stage is mesmerizing. Getting to hear whatever whip-smart lyrics she cooks up brings me true, actual joy. Go listen to her music so you can feel that too.

[1] Bear in mind that *I* am the more awkward one in these interactions.

[2] This was such a good fucking show????

[3] Jesus. Both too long and too short of a time. I feel 50.

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non-binary writer and gardener. I'm stressed out.

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Jenna Sylvester

Jenna Sylvester

non-binary writer and gardener. I'm stressed out.

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