Where I was: I remember where I was the first time I listened to Arctic Monkeys. I was sixteen with my friend Leah, who was already obsessed with them, at Lollapalooza in 2009. Leah had talked about them all day, non-stop. Her energy was infectious as she went on and on about the music and Alex Turner (she had a massive crush on him) and their first album “Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not.” We stood along the metal railing that separated the crowd from the stage next to the CEO of Skull Candy and three promoters for different Chicago bands, who talked my ear off about various gigs and gave me free bottles of water since I was slowly dehydrating.
Then, the intro music came on. A bit of hiphop in stark contrast to what the band would soon play and Alex Turner stepped onto the stage with a black and gold vest top and Humbug-style hair all in his face. Everyone screamed. For many fans, this was the first time they had seen the band in years and the crowds excitement was extremely contagious and I jumped up and down and screamed along with them. And, it’s been that way ever since: screaming, jumping, and the contagious energy Arctic Monkeys’ fans always seem to bring with them.
My experiences: since 2009, I’ve seen them eight times. Each time, they are better and better and as their last show for their fifth album, AM, was Saturday night, I thought it was only fitting to write about the band that I haven’t stopped appreciating.
Thanks to the band, I met a community of people that I’m so grateful to call my friends. Through Tumblr, I met Blake (Arctic Monkeys US) and Arctic Monkeys France. I was introduced to people from all around the world and met Natalie from Manchester and Leanne from Canada, who I still am in contact with three years later. The fandom has always been one that I cherished because they’re so welcoming and inviting. I have made my friends mixes of the band’s albums, putting the songs in an order that I thought better told a love story (check out the Spotify playlist at the end of this post).
When Arctic Monkeys opened for The Black Keys in 2012, I bought tickets on StubHub since they sold out so quickly on the venues website. The night before the concert, StubHub contacted me saying the seller didn’t come through and I was out tickets. To say that I was disappointed is a major understatement, and I reached out to Blake, who texted me back within 30 minutes with tickets. I remember the crowd sucked so much and it was only me, my friend Jai, and a random guy I met from Kansas City who were jumping and singing along to all the words of the songs. During “Still Take You Home,” Alex pointed at me and everyone around stared and I laughed and laughed and laughed.
The fifth album, AM, was the album that introduced the world to Arctic Monkeys. Well, specifically the United States since everyone else seemed to have already heard of them. AM was the album. It was the heart and soul of Arctic Monkeys and the sound was just everything. Blake texted me before midnight February 26, 2012 and told me that I was not to fall asleep just yet. I stayed up, wondering what was going on and “R U Mine?” went live on Youtube and my face hurt from smiling so much. It was a totally new sound from Suck It and See. It was a different sound from anything that they have ever done, which started the new era of AM. Alex got a new haircut sparking much debate among the fans, along with Matt, Jamie, and Nick, who just kept growing it longer and longer.
I can’t tell you why they mean so much to me. It’s something that people always laugh at me about because I listen to them nearly everyday and don’t get sick of it. The lyrics have helped me through heartbreak: “Don’t worry I’m sure that you’re still breaking hearts with the efficiency that only youth can harness. And do you still think love is a laserquest, or do you take it all more seriously? I’ve tried to ask you this, in some daydreams that I’ve had, but you’re always busy being make believe, and do you look into the mirror to remind yourself you’re there, or have somebody’s goodnight kisses got that covered? When I’m not being honest, I’ll pretend that you were just some lover.”
Through cynical times, making me feel hard and sarcastic: “Yeah I’m sorry I was late! Well I missed the train, and then the traffic was a state and I can’t be arsed to carry on in this debate that reoccurs, oh when you say I don’t care, well of course I do, yeah I clearly do!”
AM: One of my favorite moments was just last year when I saw them in London. I stayed outside Earl’s Court for close to ten hours with three sixteen year olds, who I played cards with. There were girls in Knee Socks with their asses hanging out in short shorts. And I ate Oreos and crisps because that’s what they thought Americans ate. When we finally were let inside, I got right along the barricade and the crowd was rowdy and intense and I was sweating profusely and beer was poured on me and everyone’s sweat was mixed with my own. I had to leave the front of the crowd, it was too rough and I wasn’t used to it from them. It was the first time that I have seen them (as the main band) in a large arena. I stood to the side, watching everyone with their phones up, lighting the arena, and during the opening cords of “Mardy Bum,” I completely lost it. I broke down and cried. I was seeing my favorite band, in a foreign city, in their country with total strangers, who were all singing my favorite song slowed down acoustically. The guy standing next to me, saw me, and held up his beer to my disgusting appearance and yelled, “yes, mate, yes!”
I’ve seen photos of the last concert for the AM era. Of Matt’s shaved head. Of Nick’s zebra leggings. Of Alex’s hair grown out and slicked back. Of Jamie’s long hair, now cut short. Of them all waving good-bye. As much as I hope that they’re not gone for long, if they do decide to leave us for awhile, it was a really great two (almost three) years of AM.