Back in the summer of 2009, I went to Fort Lauderdale's Culture Room to catch the MySpace Let's Make a Mess Tour. I was writing a column on the sexiest local band for a now-defunct weekly publication's Sex Issue, and going with the assumption that a sexy local band must emanate sexiness to both male and female fans. So I sought out bands that featured male and female members. Which is what brought me to this show, because among the several emo-cribbing indie-pop acts on the bill was Hey Monday.
The pop-punk group had "Band of the Moment" status back then, and so despite the fact that the audience consisted almost entirely of teenage girls and a few of their moms, it was a must-do for the Sex Issue, because this pop-punk band was fronted by a then-19-year-old singer named Cassadee Pope.
The four acts that led up to Hey Monday were a mostly forgettable amalgam of 2009's indie-pop fashions and sound. My notes for those first four bands read as follows:
The Bigger Lights ("so-so emo-pop. Skinny jeans? Check. Vests? Three out of five band members"); Stereo Skyline ("weak vocals, solid rhythm section. Skinny jeans? Check. Vests? Bassist only"); The Friday Night Boys ("pretty good, sounds like early Strokes, with a soupçon of Nickelback. Skinny jeans? No. Singer's pants are somewhat baggy. Vests? None. Possible inverse relationship between quality of band and reliance on poser fashions should be subject of later column"); and This Providence ("harder than the other bands, drums insistent throughout set. Skinny Jeans? Yes. Vests? One")
Hey Monday came on last. None of the acts could be called my preferred genre, granted, but Pope's manic energy put Hey Monday far beyond the rest. Sure, she wore a vest, but she also had the audience in the palm of her hand. The girls in the crowd screamed along to every word, despite the fact that Hey Monday had just come out with its only full-length. The group played almost its entire then-forthcoming EP, Beneath It All, and despite the fact that that record wasn't out yet, the crowd knew all of these words as well. Among local bands, this has always been a good indication to me of future regional or national success. Chris Carrabba and New Found Glory managed the same feat before they blew up. And so, I expected great things to come for Hey Monday.