Crowd surfers bumped along atop raised palms as hundreds of voices screamed, “So I called to apologize for every night I told you I didn’t wanna live my life.” Adam Ackerman hoisted his guitar high above his head and shredded as Cameron Boucher led the second half of the chorus: “But I hung up before you could pick up ’cause I changed my mind.”
In that wild moment, one could be forgiven for forgetting they were still at the College.
Sorority Noise brought its fuzzy emo rock sounds to the Decker Social Space on Friday, Nov. 18, for the penultimate CUB Alt show of the fall semester.
The upstart Hartford, Conn.-based band played half of its latest record, which is not quite self-pitying enough to be pigeonholed as emo, not quite angsty enough to call itself pop punk. Somewhere in between, Sorority Noise channels its raw energy into mental health advocacy on “Joy, Departed.”
“If you’re dealing with any mental illness, don’t let people tell you to get over it. Tell those people to fuck themselves because they don’t really care about you,” Boucher said.
His sentiments are echoed in the song “Mononokay,” as he sings, “Call me depressed, tell me to get over it. It’s not in my head, it’s in my blood.”
Boucher, who has manic depression, often incorporates imagery of darkness into his songs: Drugs, death and feelings of worthlessness are rampant across his lyrical catalog. Powerful playing and intense vocals make the tracks more fun than sad, though. During “Blonde Hair, Black Lungs,” hearing hundreds of students scream “I’m so scared of dying alone that I’ll kill myself right here, right now” felt more like a buoyant celebration than a despairing promise.
The jovial mood was assisted by Ackerman, whose boundless playing was accentuated by impressive guitar stunts. He thrashed around the stage all night long, his shaggy blonde hair flying out in all directions.
During “Art School Wannabe,” he jump-kicked as Boucher sang, “Maybe I’m just scared to admit that I might not be as dark as I think. Maybe I’m not the person that I never wanted to be.” Much of “Joy, Departed” hinges on this idea of recovery and regaining self-worth, while 2014’s “Forgettable” was drenched in depression. Sorority Noise played some tracks from that debut, like “Mediocre at Best” and “Still Shrill.”
“Maybe I’ll drink myself to sleep, ’cause that’s what I’m used to,” Boucher sings on the latter, and on “Mediocre,” he meanders in his bedheaded voice: “Nobody likes me, that’s what I tell myself… I spent a lot of last year learning I don’t like me, too.”
On “Joy, Departed,” though, Sorority Noise emerges stronger, self-aware and ready to fight. The band’s continual growth is evident even within its sophomore effort. On “Art School Wannabe,” Boucher sings, “I know that I’m not worth your time.” Just two tracks later, he trashes that idea on “Using,” arguably the band’s most manic track, as he sings, “I know I’m more than worthy of your time.”
This 180-degree turn reflects Boucher’s own day-to-day life.
“Some days, I can’t get up and get out of bed, and some days, I get up at 6 in the morning,” he said. “It’s hard to predict, and it’s hard to deal with life.”
But on “Using,” Boucher faces his demons — drugs, cigarettes and other vices — head on. The band yells together, “I stopped wishing I was dead!” in a hair-raising surge of triumph. Their desire to live is overwhelming.
“I have a life worth living, and I have a lot of things to get done in my life, so I continue to get up,” Boucher told the audience. “And I just want everyone else to know you also have a life worth living.”
*This story was originally published in The Signal.