Written by Selina Falcon
Being a fan is one of the most fun things in the world. Being a fan of Arizona emo group The Maine is even more fun.
When Paige asked me to write about my favorite experience/story in regards to being a fan, I knew it would definitely include The Maine. They have really become the only band I’m willing to invest my time, money, and emotions in because they are pure boys and NATIONAL TREASURES.
I’ve now racked up quite a few memories with The Maine since seeing them for the first time two years ago: Letting John keep my purple sharpie in 2015 and regretting it ever since, watching Garrett slap my best friend Haley’s phone away from her face at Free For All because she was looking down at it instead of at the stage (in her defense, she was trying to clear space on her phone because she was attempting vlogging), getting my first group photo with the band at Warped 2016 while Yellowcard played literally 20 feet away, and of course, Garrett putting his hands on my shoulders after Free For All and singing “Total Eclipse of the Heart” to me. Casual.
And while those memories always bring a smile to my face, there is one that tops them all: Meet and greet day at 8123 Fest. This is a story I literally have not told a single soul in full, aside from Haley.
Now, when I mentioned earlier that I invest my time into The Maine, I wasn’t just talking about concerts and meet and greets. Since late-2015, I have been on The Maine’s street team and have dedicated some time, I can’t even tell you.
Though it can get hectic and stressful every now and then, I do genuinely enjoy street team work. Being an active driving force behind The Maine is something I’m willing to do because I love the guys and I want to help them be as successful as they can be.
Prior to 8123 Fest, the street team was discussing possibly meeting up in AZ because so many of us were traveling in and would be in the same place, at the same time, for the first time ever.
Once we were all in AZ, we got emails saying to meet at the pop-up shop that Sunday at noon. Originally, I wasn’t going to attend. My anxiety was off the hook that entire weekend and I only left my hotel to do crucial things: Grab the “Stay Up, Get Down” vinyl, attend the Pioneer show, attend the fest, visit the former M wall, and cry at 8123. Matter of fact, the only internet friend I said hi to that weekend was actually Paige because she was literally sitting on the ground next to me at the festival before The Summer Set went on.
So I wasn’t going to go to the meet up. Then, as Haley and I were getting ready to go wait in line for the public meet and greet, I randomly decided to check my email and saw I had one from the street team, that was sent on Saturday. I read it 30 minutes before the meetup: The Maine was gonna buy the street team pizza to thank us for all we do.
Haley, bless her dang soul, listened as I read the email out loud and was immediately like, “I don’t have a bra on, my hair is half-straightened, but I’m dropping you off right now. Get in the car.” It was so intense and so fast, I didn’t even have time to process what I was about to do until I was in front of the pop-up shop at 11:57 a.m., surrounded by bunch of street teamers I didn’t know, waiting for directions.
Side-note: The meetup was only for teamers, so we couldn’t bring anyone who wasn’t a teamer with us. Haley gave up meeting The Maine that weekend, just so I privately could. I’m still crying about it.
Once we were let inside, I was immediately greeted with a hug from Chelsea Dunstall. For those who don’t know, Chelsea is a part of 8123 and oversees the street team. As soon as I hugged her, I wanted to cry. I felt completely okay. Nerves and anxiety disappeared. I felt at home.
We all sat in a huge circle on the pop up shop floor and went around introducing ourselves. Then the pizza came and we all mingled amongst each other. I met a few people and it is still one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever been a part of when it comes to The Maine. We even got a group photo taken by Lupe. (I’m in the way back under the N in Lonely.)
As we mingled, music was playing. While I was talking to my new friend Sady, we both stopped, looked at each other, and were like, “Wait. Is this…?”
Then Garrett came running in from literally nowhere and was like “Who put this on?!” and shut off the music. A few months later, “Do You Remember” was released and I cried because I realized I had already heard the song – back in January.
So out comes Garrett (I still don’t know where from), followed by the rest of the guys. This was the first time I got to actually speak to every member for more than 10 seconds.
Kennedy was as sweet as ever. Jared thanked me for traveling 10 hours. Poor Pat had to sit and meet people because he was still in the beginning weeks of his foot injury. John signed my VIP laminate and was like, “I dated it for you… With yesterday’s date.” Garrett asked Jared from across the room if bowl cuts were making a come back and then asked me if I wanted one. When I said “I’m good,” he was like, “Nah, you want one.”
It was, and still is, one of the best fan experiences I have ever had in my entire life. There is so much more that happened, but I don’t want to share too much. I know that day was very special and intimate for the teamers who were able to go and we all hold those memories very close to our hearts.
I will say this, though: Never have I felt more at home than I did in that room on that Sunday afternoon with the teamers and The Maine. I still feel extremely happy and content any time I go to a The Maine show, or any time I meet the guys or a fellow fan, but that afternoon? Nothing will ever compare to that feeling of community and inclusiveness.
And if you’re wondering, yes, I did end the weekend at 8123. And I cried.