November 19, 2014

Zine: How to Go to Shows Alone

Jenna Marx's How to Go to Shows Alone is necessary life advice.

I was just fifteen when I went to a show by myself for the first time. Brand New's The Devil and God Are Raging Inside of Me had just come out and the band was performing an acoustic session at a record store in New Jersey. Although I was a year or two out of my intense emo phase, I was determined to go so I could cry in a public place to "The Boy Who Blocked His Own Shot." I somehow convinced my parents to pick me up early from school and drive me to the show of my tween dreams. There was a dilemma though – I couldn't convince any of my friends to ditch school and come see a band that everyone had mostly stopped caring about. So I decided to say fuck it, YOLO, and went alone.

Looking back, this was a bold move for a mildly shy, socially anxious teen that rarely did anything alone (and I didn't even have Twitter to keep me occupied during lulls). But I remember feeling weirdly proud of myself that I didn't let going alone hold me back from doing something I wanted to do. Since then, I've attended a number of shows alone, but I can't say that there weren't many times that I backed out on going to a concert because I was too nervous or weirded out to go solo. With How to Go to Shows Alone, I might never have this problem again.

How to Go to Shows Alone is a short zine created by Jenna Marx, of San Francisco-based bands Joyride!, Crabapple, and Salt Flat. She originally posted the text on the Joyride! website, but there's no official copy of the zine on the Internet except a few shots of pages that someone posted on Tumblr. The post has amassed a big following - 36,000+ notes and counting – with commentary like "This is rad!" and "Fear of going to shows alone is real but this is cool."

Jenna's commentary in the zine ranges from legit advice ("To strike up brief conversation with neighbors, ask: 'What band is this/is next'?") to the slightly silly. She self-deprecatingly pens, "Send a couple of funny texts to friends from out of town about your bleak social life." (I recently texted a friend "Is it weird to break out my Kindle at this show? Why do I have such bad heartburn?" while hiding in the corner of a venue.) But the most hard-hitting statement comes at the end of the zine. Jenna writes, "Remind yourself to stand tall, convince yourself via inner monologues to feel proud and dignified in the fact that despite loneliness and social anxiety, you are doing good things with your time." This line doesn't just apply to going to shows – it could be getting coffee, going to a museum, doing literally anything by yourself. As someone who's just coming to the terms with realizing that being alone A LOT in New York is just something that happens and that it's OK despite the many meltdowns, it's a statement I needed to hear. And isn't it nice to think that doing things solo means that you're inherently mysterious?

Written by Emily Thompson