I was not cool in high school. I do not mean that in the way that celebrities use it, the canned “I was such a geek in high school!” answer. I was chubby, homeschooled, and wore a lot of denim on denim. While I managed to avoid the bullying of my peers and had enough friends, you don’t exactly gain a considerable amount of knowledge of medieval weaponry and get asked out every Friday night. However, I had one saving grace that kept me from total social Siberia: I worked in the coolest independent coffeeshop in my suburban town. It wasn’t a lot, but it gave me an edge.
Sure, I was too much of a square to smoke cloves with the cool kids in the parking lot after the night shift, but working at The Wired Bean did expose me to indie rock. I became a full-fledged music snob, and Dashboard Confessional was my particular drug of choice. I would wax long and loudly that no one understood adolescent angst as well as Chris Carrabba, and there were many tearful breakdowns in my car as he wailed over my sound system. While A Mark, a Mission, a Brand, a Scar was my first and favorite, that album sent me exploring the back catalog of the band as well, leading me to The Swiss Army Romance and The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most, which dropped 15 years ago this week.
It can be very embarrassing to revisit the music of your youth. What was so profound as a teenager can come across as overly-earnest and downright cringeworthy as an adult. There are some bands that I haven’t listened to in over a decade because I simply don’t want the good memories ruined by the harsh light of being a grown up. Still, on the 15th anniversary of the release of The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most, I have decided to put aside my fears and dive into the deep waters of emo lyrics and guitar solos.