no. 8 — Solid Chunks of Energy by Jake McKelvie and the Countertops

I have been so pumped to write this one- Jake McKelvie and the Countertops were my door to the DIY scene, therefore becoming the door to most of my friends in college, and therefore the door to who I am today. I have followed this band all over the upper east coast. I’ve seen them literally countless times, and each time I danced so much I thought I would start flying. I don’t know what it is! This band brings JOY! I can barely write while I listen because I keep stopping to sing along. 500 words won’t do justice to the way I feel about this band, but I’ll try.

Let me set the scene. I’m a junior in high school. I’m depressed, I want a way to be ~different~ from my friends. Enter the cool new guy from Maine. We the same English class that year, a class in which I often would start laughing so hard out of no where that I would end up sobbing in the bathroom, trying to compose myself. That year I was overrun with emotions, and I had no idea how to deal with it.

The cool new guy invited me to a show he was helping to host at a friend’s garage. It was on a Tuesday night, and although I’m sure my parents would have been fine with it if I had asked them, I decided to sneak out. I told my parents I was watching the Bachelorette at a friend’s house (a weekly occurrence), and got into my car in sweatpants. I drove to the show, changed my pants, put on makeup, and walked in alone. Turns out, two cars full of Maine punks had come down for this show. I knew two people out of everyone there. No one knew where I was or what I was doing. It was awkward and cold as hell, and I was thinking about leaving early.

But when Jake McKelvie and the Countertops came on, the thing that blew me away was the crowd’s reaction. Earlier that night, the cool new guy had moshed straight into a pole, causing a dramatic head wound that soaked into the collar of his shirt. But the thing I remember most about that night was the way everyone started slow dancing and singing along to Oh, the Ghost, a song off JCM+Tops’s first album. It seemed like everyone was friends, everyone knew each other, and I wanted that so badly. I wanted to be part of a community that I had chosen, not one that was expected of me[1].

A lot of the people in that room ended up changing my life. I became a part of that community in my own way. Jake McKelvie follows me on Instagram and recognizes me when I turn up at his shows[2]. They just came out with a new album which is quickly becoming one of my favorites, but Solid Chunks of Energy is the album that altered the course of my life. I love the onslaught of wordy lyrics, I love the bass runs and the drums. I love that I have gotten to dance with my friends at their shows, and I especially love that they have the line “it’s not too late for me to touch your virtual body” in one of their songs. This band fucking rocks.

I highly suggest you listen to this album, especially the track Aside From Your Hair. You can listen here.

[1] I want to be clear that all throughout this part of my life, my OG friend group stuck by me despite how insufferable I was being. Every one of my friends came with me to a show at some point. Even if it was never their thing, they remain some of my Best Friends. Me going to punk shows was an attempt to differentiate myself from them, but not out of a dislike or a shame to be associated with them.

[2] Sorry for bragging

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Jenna Sylvester

Jenna Sylvester

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