Friday

Funeral for a Friend // Saying Goodbye

This title makes it sound like somebody has died. Nobody's died. Only my little emo heart.

Way back in the end of 2004, I was happily watching Kerrang when a music video came on that caught my attention. It had everything I wanted in a video- angsty destruction, a storyline I didn't understand but pretended I did and, more importantly, what me and Marie had named HEGs (Hot Emo Guys). The floppy black hair, the skinny figures, the torn jean hems with scruffy Converse... All the things that were essential for a mid-00s emo kid. The video was for Juneau by Funeral for a Friend, a song I vaguely knew through Marie who had been a fan for a while by that point, and I was enamoured with it. It led to a 12-year love affair with this dorky little band from Wales but, as they say, all good things come to an end and this week it was time to say goodbye.
Funeral for a Friend Last Chance to Dance
My late teens were the most significant years of my life. At the time, I was desperately unhappy but I look back now with the fondest memories. I was so free- I'd forged the most wonderful friendship with Marie, I spent my days queuing up in Brixton so I could be at the barrier for gigs and it really felt like I could do anything I wanted in life. Mostly I remember summer days wearing ripped fishnets and red eyeshadow, getting heckled at Thorpe Park (and loving it), saving all my EMA for another piercing from the alternative shop in town where I was absolutely in love with the beautiful (but unfortunately gay) piercer. Throughout all these memories, I can hear the soundtrack of my teens- My Chemical Romance, AFI and, yes, Funeral for a Friend.

I'm popping some old photos in this post. Hover over for details on them.
2006 emo girls
Hours, the second album, came out on my 17th birthday- 13th June 2005. I happened to be staying with my dad in London that week so I rushed to the Bond Street HMV for the CD and listened to it on my Walkman while I travelled back on the Central Line. That November, Marie and I booked tickets to Taste of Chaos where Funeral for a Friend were playing with The Used. Afterwards, we hung around by the stage door and were thrilled when Gareth Davies- the bassist of Funeral for a Friend- leaned out of the window and shouted "Are you cold? I'm coming down!" before bursting out of the venue and giving us all hugs. The next February, they played in Reading. Unfortunatey the gig was cancelled on the day but, as we were already there, we spent the day in the city with some local guys we'd recently met at a gig. I went on to date one of them for a bit and that evening was the start of our love affair. Throughout 2004- 2006, Funeral for a Friend were always there, lurking in the background of these most significant events, bringing me together with others, providing solace in darker times and giving us lyrics to shout out of cheap used Fords at McDonald's drive thrus.
Tube Becky and Marie
As the years passed, my favourite bands petered away. They stopped releasing music, stopped touring, gradually faded into nothing. Except for Funeral for a Friend. When I met Laura at uni, she joked that I was forever going to Funeral for a Friend gigs, and she was right. Whenever they were playing, Marie and I would book tickets. We danced at festival set after festival set, said goodbye to Darran in 2010 and, a year later, happened to be eating Nando's before a gig in Reading when the band came in and sat at the table behind us, just moments after joking that we would love that to happen. (Funnily enough, the exact same thing happened this weekend! I guess Funeral for a Friend love a pre-gig Nando's as much as we do) In the end, I notched up more than 20 of their gigs- Marie was closer to 30.
Becky and Marie Tongues
So it was with mixed feelings that I attended the two final Funeral for a Friend gigs in London last weekend. On the first night, they played the entirety of Hours- the album that really made them for me. All our little traditions- kissing Marie during Streetcar (praying for our lips to touch), linking hands during Roses for the Dead (so raise your hands up high) and raising our fingers for one last salute in History- felt so poignant and the tears flowed freely. It was also wonderful to hear some songs that I don't think I'd heard live before, or at least not for a long time, such as All The Rage and, especially, Drive which was a song I really connected with as a teenager.
Festival Becky and Marie
The next night was the most emotional gig I've ever attended. Playing the entirety of their first album Casually Dressed and Deep in Conversation followed by the earlier EP Seven Ways to Scream Your Name, complete with original members Ryan and Darran, the love for this band was so evident in the venue that you could almost taste it. The final playing of Juneau was like nothing I've experienced before- every single person in the venue screaming yet I'm nothing more than a line in your book at the top of their lungs, with more meaning than I'd ever heard before- and the opportunity for us to sing the opening verse of Red is the New Black en masse with Kris's guitar. Vocalist Matt Davies explained what every song meant to him and became more emotional with each track. By the end, he was sobbing his heart out, as were we all. For the final songs, he explained that he'd chosen the two songs that he felt really encapsulated what Funeral for a Friend were all about- Roses for the Dead and History.
Train Becky and Marie
I'm not ashamed to admit that I absolutely broke down. I tried to sing along but the words got lost in my sobs. Every lyric seemed to hold such poignancy and the realisation that these two songs, which I must have heard at every single performance I'd attended, would never be played live again was heartbreaking. Most of all though, it really felt like closing a curtain on that period of my life.

I'm almost 30 now- far from the troubled, scared teen who really was a sucker for tragedies. I'm happy with my life, I'm in a secure, stable place and I know who I am. It's time to say goodbye and move forward into the next stage of my life.
Becky and Marie
So, to Funeral for a Friend, thank you. Thank you for writing lyrics that connected with me on such a deep level. Thank you for providing me with comfort when I felt like I'd lost hope. Thank you for bringing me together with so many amazing people who, although they are not all in my life still, will always have a very special place in my heart. Thank you for giving me something to dance to, sing to and scream to, whether in a grubby music venue, a muddy field, a friend's car or just my bedroom. Thank you for being the foundation of my friendship with Marie, who is one of the most special people I've ever met. Thank you for always being there, whether in the background or at the forefront, of so many memories, both good and bad.

Most of all, thank you for being more than just music- for being a soundtrack, a companion and a symbol of what would end up, strangely enough, being the best time of my life. Your history is mine. 


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10 comments :

  1. Funeral for a Friend was my teenage love affair. Hours is still one of my favourite albums of all time I still have it in my car. The first time I saw them live was on Halloween when I was 14 and my mum had to come so that I could get in. I completely understand the grief of a band ending especially one as special as this. Their lyrics have always been so deep and meaningful to me. It's been a great road!

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  2. God, this is an absolutely lovely post Becky. It even made me feel emotional at the end of it, and I only really know the song 'History!' It was the bit about it being the soundtrack to your life and that feeling of saying goodbye to it all. I was more of a poppy emo kid (think Head Automatica, Cute is what we aim for - hides face in hands) but still whenever I hear those songs I think of being at university and all the feelings that brings up. I love your blog for posts like this, I hope you always keep writing because you're really talented xxx

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    1. I don't know if it's just my emotions running high but this comment made me tear up. Thank you so much! <3

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  3. What a beautiful tribute to two beautiful nights. That final night, the salutes, singing, tears, emotions. It felt good and fitting to be in that room, where everyone there clearly had a real history with them. They, of all bands, really have seen me through some poinyant times-break ups, lonely Uni times and sunny car journeys. At 31 years old, i feel lost without them already. Xx

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  4. This is a lovely post and it's wonderful reading about how music sculpts people and really helps them through certain times in their lives. I've always been one for loving lyrics but unfortunately I haven't been to many gigs or festivals or anything, and I really don't know why. I never really got attached to a band like you did and in a way it makes me feel kind of sad that I was never able to but at the same time I'm happy with the way that my life has gone so far, and I've got plenty of time to be going to gigs as you don't just need to be a teenager to do it. Music is for all the ages. I'm talking as if I'm like 50 or something, hahaha just half of that, I'm fine :)

    Katie
    www.katiehodgkinson.com

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  5. I'm not crying, there is just a tree in my eyes :'(
    FFAF were just one of those bands that from discovering them to the end - I had so much love for them, you've put it in better words, I 100% relate.
    I am gutted I didn't get to see them on their final tour, also very much peed off that my friends went without me - "OH we thought you'd get tickets if you wanted to come?!" ¬_¬ Yes when every other gig we've all booked together, why didn't I think of buying when I didn't know they were going?! (Not even gonna lie, super peed off over that! REALLY peed off!)

    However reading this post made me feel like I was there (with better company, you and your friend sound like the type of people I need in my life), so thank you for sharing your memories <3

    Now I'm going to listen to them, on repeat, for life. xxx

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  6. I only heard of funeral for a friend when they played at Godiva festival in Coventry and I absolutely loved them! So sad to hear they won't be playing any live sets again :(

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  7. I don't know any of their songs, but have heard of them...but damn, this post made me blimmin' emotional. It's great how music can be there for you through so much.

    Meg | A Little Twist Of…

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  8. I love this post! I'm such a big fan of music it is my live and I love this post because I can relate to it as I have a love affair for the band Keane I'm a mega fan but also was a little emo/indie girl as a teenager too, music was there for me through that period of my life and still is

    But I honestly know how heartbreaking it must of been seeing that band for one last time as I would of been a mess too

    Leanne | www.oohsimplething.blogspot.co.uk

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  9. This made me cry. and I'm sitting at work on my break.
    Emotions!

    Lovely post though x

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