A Pleasant Surprise on Friday the 13th


Photo Credit: Claire Daniel

Claire Daniel

Fridays that fall on the 13th of the month are notoriously ominous. There’s an entire movie series based around the calamities that seem to ensue on these dates, but on Friday September 13th, my roommate and I were pleasantly surprised by what we stumbled across.

That afternoon I stumbled across a free festival at UMD called NextNOW while looking for something to do for the weekend. It sounded perfect. It was something to do, my roommate had friends who went to UMD, but most notably: it was free. I didn’t know anything about the event, but a little bit of scouring lead me to the headliner: Snail Mail.

The singer, Lindsey Jordan, is known throughout the ~indie/punk community~ for her guitar shreds layered throughout “pristine love songs”, as The Rolling Stone put it in 2018. Even knowing this, I was not prepared for what I was about to experience.

Photo Credit: Claire Daniel

The venue was a fair size. It was held at The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center’s theater. Students from the DMV packed the house, but even then, it was the most intimate concert that I have ever attended. It may have helped that I lucked out and was seated in the first row, center stage but I don’t think that I was the only person there who felt this way.

The band worked their way through their most popular songs such as “Heat Wave,” “Pristine,” and “The 2nd Most Beautiful Girl In The World” but also spontaneously dropped and added different songs to their playlist, making it feel like they were playing a house show for their friends rather than a paid gig. The show was peppered with guitar solos and funny moments (at one point after going a little hard, Lindsey’s guitar strap fell off and she finished the song out while precariously balanced on one foot with her guitar perched on her knee) but most notable of all, was the end.

Lindsey played the last two songs alone on stage and let me tell you, they were heart-wrenchers. For the first time that night, the hundreds of college students in attendance fell absolutely silent. The songs were new but they drummed up even the oldest feelings of heartache for those listening. At one point in the last song, Lindsey got emotional, making me, my roommate, and everyone else get a little misty-eyed.

Photo Credit: Claire Daniel

This concert was the most unexpected surprise in all the best ways. The set was interactive, the vocals were strained and raw at times and emotional and tender at others, and the crowd was invested and excited. I will be sure to catch them every time they are in D.C. and I recommend that everyone else do the same as well.

Ticket Price: Free

Rating: 10/10