Everyone with a Broken Heart Ends Up at a Brian Fallon Concert

August 16th, 2018

The first time I listened to Brian Fallon I had a few drinks while sitting on my balcony, spinning the "Painkillers" record on my dad's old 1960-ish "portable" GE turntable.  At the time I was in the middle of a complicated, messy break up with a guy I fell in love with far too quickly.  As I listened to each track, I was not even kinda prepared for the emotionally charged heart break driven album that is "Painkillers".  Even though his music was most definitely opening up old wounds, I couldn't stop listening.  There was a comfort in the sadness he was singing about and just when it was about to get too sad, he would throw in a hopeful line as if to say "hey love is hell but at least it's real".     
A few years later and in the middle of another heart break, almost like clock work, his second album came out.  I bought a ticket to see him in mid-April at the Newport and attempted to bamboozle a friend to join me, but my best efforts proved to be futile so I ended up going alone.  There I was: leaning on the rail of the upper level of the Newport, sipping my beer, alone, and about to listen to two hours worth of sad love songs.  
After claiming my spot for the night, a man about a foot taller than me and with the body composition that looked like he could bench two of me with his pinkies claimed his spot next to me.  Just like any girl by herself at a concert who doesn't want to talk to anyone, I didn't even acknowledge his existence and continued to text every person I could think of to kill time.  That was until he tapped me on the shoulder.  Forced into social interaction, I looked up at him as he asked if I would hold his spot so he could get a drink.  Bound by the Concert Code of Ethics, I agreed.  When he came back we ended up making small talk about the new album, the venue, other bands we like, blahblahblah...  He revealed that he was also at the show alone and that he had driven all the way from Cleveland just to see his set.
Another person hailing from Northeast Ohio: my people.
I don't know why, and I never will, but the more he talked the more exposed his broken heart.  At age 25, he was still living with his parents and working part time as a pizza delivery guy.  Set back after set back kept preventing him from getting a better job.  He was trying to become a cop after spending too much time and money on making bad decisions in college.  What it all came down to was that his life didn't look like how he wanted it to and he felt pretty defeated about everything.
I stood there and listened to him ramble, chiming in occasionally, until he wrapped up his story.  It was right before Brian Fallon was going to go on stage that I looked at him and said, "As long as you're trying to better yourself, it's going to be alright.  And anyone who mocks you for where you are right now doesn't deserve your time".
The lights went dark and Brian Fallon came out for the as expected high energy, feelings full set.  
When he walked off the stage and the lights came up, everyone naturally started to filter out.  However, the guy next to me didn't turn to leave.  Instead he turned to me one last time and asked, "Can I give you a hug?"  I chuckled as I gave this big tough guy a hug.  The last thing he said to me was, "I'll always remember you as the cool concert girl from Columbus".
We went our separate ways and when I got home I realized that he never told me what his name was.  He told me his story, his dreams, and his fears, but never told me his name.  
The most amazing thing about concerts is that they bring total strangers together to all share in one moment.  Everyone walks away taking what they needed while leaving behind what was weighing them down, even if it's just for a minute.  You laugh, you dance, you sing, you scream, and sometimes you tear up a little.  We're all listening to the same song but yet we're all experiencing it differently.  We're all there for different reasons; we all sought out that artist for different reasons.  The guy who stood next to me needed to patch up his heart with a swift musical feelings check and comforting words from a stranger.  I was there because I had to face my feelings, even if they were channeled through some catchy tunes.  
I can only wonder why everyone else was there.
"And we want love like it was a drug.  All we wanted was a little relief.  And every heart I held in-between, they were painkillers to me."