Friday Feelgood; free records

Updated: May 16

Just a quick one piggybacking off my mild optimism and human sentimentality (read here if you're looking for more).


In the past, I briefly wrote about Anxious and Angry as a resource – a podcast by Ryan Young from Off With Their Heads, a Midwest punk band from my sour home Chicago that helped/helps me through a lot of bad times. Check out some lyrics at the bottom to see why they're so relatable.


The music and podcast usually discuss anxiety, depression, addiction, touring and local music with some cynical sass. It is all my favorite topics in one, and some hometown heroes - yes please. Feels like hanging out with my old buds.



Punks Bein Sweet


Well, recently something super cool happened in the midst of the pandemic, and I just wanted to share a sweet little story about people being good humans.


The OWTH boys recorded an acoustic record to pass the time for themselves and their fans. They released the album for pre-order through the Anxious and Angry website. Soon thereafter, the singer, Ryan, kindly sent out an email offer to give 10 of them away for free to whomever demonstrated economic issues and needed a morale boost to keep on trekking. First come first serve. A nice thing to do.


Well, the first 10 free records were gone in seconds. But then something cool started happening.


And so, it went, with folks simultaneously buying dozens of albums at a time and other fans snatching up the free records to brighten their economically-awful quarantines. A Robinhood-esque flow from the well-situated to those in need.

Completely unprompted, someone messaged Ryan and bought another 50 albums to give away to more financially unstable fans. They were gone right away. After that, someone else wrote in and bought 20 more for the same purpose.


And so, it went, with folks simultaneously buying dozens of albums at a time and other fans snatching up the free records to brighten their economically-awful quarantines. A Robinhood-esque flow from the well-situated to those in need.


I think at some point there were as many as 200 albums in the pool for giveaways? All the pre-orders were sold out in a matter of a few days, and hundreds of folks got their digital A-sides immediately sent over so they could power through difficult times – all thanks to their philanthropic fellow fanboys.


Context matters


Now, that’s fucking heartwarming to me as it is… but for the full effect, you need to understand the context.


Punk isn’t a rich genre, and this band is no different. Most punker culture surrounds lower class roots and struggle-bussing your way through life with the help of friends (plus hating our stupid government). So, fans of this band are probably personally affected by the economic downturn in big ways.


Punk isn’t a rich genre, and this band is no different.Most punker culture surrounds lower class roots and struggle-bussing your way through life with the help of friends (plus hating our stupid government). So, fans of this band are probably personally affected by the economic downturn in big ways.

Also, realize that this is a DIY printshop and a tiny little midwestern punk band we’re talking about. (Though, within midwestern punk, they are very well-known.) These dudes are not rolling in cash or fame – they work real, full-time jobs and panic over bills like the rest of us. They don’t have to work on side projects or send out friendly emails; they have other, revenue-making, shit to do, and still choose to be an active part of the community.


Finally, know that this band draws fans who suffer from severe mental illness and addiction. For many folks, the music has been life-changing and even kept them afloat during suicidal days. The lyrics are their lives and the singer is their savior.


Finally, know that this band draws fans who suffer from severe mental illness and addiction. For many folks, the music has been life-changing and even kept them afloat during suicidal days.The lyrics are their lives and the singer is their savior.

The fact that this little alternative community stepped up with such fervor to support each other and the band that they love really warms my cold, angry punk heart. I’ve always been proud to call myself a Midwest punker, and it’s shit like this that makes it more than a genre. Songs aren’t just songs and fans aren’t just fans; there’s heart behind everything. No matter how grating the screaming is for your preferences, you have to admit, this story melts you.



TLDR: Chicago punk band does good for their fans; fans do even better for other fans. Proud of my hometown heroes.



Sample Lyrics

Off With Their Heads: "Clear the Air"


I wanted to tell you, I wanted to share Some important details that you're unaware of I want you to listen, I want you to care I'll choke to death if I don't clear the air It's not a secret that I obsess And then I get angry, and then I get stressed And you can't imagine and you can't compare You have no frame of reference and then you get scared I'm doing my best to help make you see That it's not your fault, when I'll beg and I'll plead It's much easier just to go back to sleep But we gotta find a place to start because I'm falling apart I never feel happy, I never feel safe I can't let myself ever stay in one place I look in the mirror and I see the face Of a failure who will never be significant The face that you see from the morning to night Is the mask that I put on to hide what's inside I don't take it off until you fall asleep I don't want you to see what lives inside of me I thought I'd get older and it'd go away But it only gets worse and causes more pain And being alone is getting so hard I just got to tell you God damnit, I'm falling apart I'm down on my knees in the dark Feeling for whatever is left But the pieces are falling too far Don't leave yet I haven't got to the part that explains it all Don't leave yet I need somebody there to catch me before I fall To catch me before I fall God damnit, I'm falling apart I wanted to tell you, I wanted to share Some important details that you're unaware of I want you to listen, I want you to care I'll choke to death if I don't clear the air right now




I'm not crying.



What about you? Do you have any uplifting stories from your unique walk of life?



EDIT: My anxiety wants me to clarify that OWTH was originally formed in Minneapolis, MN. As far as I know, they've been centrally located around Chicago for a number of years. I took them as my city's own and I don't apologize.


Traumatized Motherfxckers

Not doomed. Not damaged.

Not dead yet.

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