Teenage Wonderland: Growing Up With Kids In Glass Houses

kigh farewell 1

The date is 8th of March 2009. I am 14 years old and believe nothing could be cooler than neon coloured Criminal Damage jeans. I am also about to see my favourite band for the very first time but I didn’t even know who they were…

As a typically precocious teenager, I would act as if I knew everything which is why I would argue to the death with a classmate that Fall Out Boy’s support act would be the American Hey Monday, not some random British band called “Kids In Glass Houses”.

That night in all the (lack of) wisdom of my (limited) years, my friends and I queued up outside the Brighton Centre against the freezing seafront breeze giggling at the thought of seeing our great mutton-chopped hero Patrick Stump in the flesh. I probably had “(L) Sideburns (L)” in my MSN messenger name at the time – I was that kind of fan. We didn’t eat, shared Red Bull and wasted the only camera battery between all of us on stupid group photos before ‘selfies’ were even a thing. Our little adventure was nearly all over before it began when we were caught smuggling a friend’s little brother into the standing area. Security told us they would turn a blind eye if we stayed away from the front. Needless to say, we ran straight towards the barrier.
When the first band came on, they were not fronted by Cassadee Pope but instead a male rockstar with a Welsh accent, scruffy hair, skinny jeans and a tendency to lose his balance leaning on the edge of the stage. His name, I would later learn, was Aled Phillips. His band were Kids In Glass Houses. “Shit. I was wrong” but as Hey Monday also appeared that night, I took gloat in the fact that the girl I had bickered with was wrong too.

I cannot remember much of Kids In Glass Houses’ set apart from spending most of it suspended mid-air wedged in a pogo-pit. I do not even remember much of Fall Out Boy’s set other than being disappointed in Patrick Stump’s face-concealing outfit, one friend falling over and being trampled on, losing sight of her little brother and another friend leaving about to faint from lack of food and excess of caffeine. It was painfully un-rock and roll. When we left and jumped into my parents’ car, my Mum who seemed to carry all of my hopes and excitement for the night with her turned around and beamed at me: “So how was it?”. “I can’t hear anything and all Pete Wentz did was moan about oil” was the response I shouted. It was the kind of experience that should have made me lose interest in live music but instead it propelled me into it more and more. There had to be something better than this.

Flash forward to the next year and I spent my secondary school mornings eating my breakfast in front of MTV Rocks, back when it was still MTV Two. ‘Youngblood (Let It Out)‘ and ‘Matters At All‘ were regular features on the playlist. The band I’d left behind with repressed Fall Out Boy memories suddenly came to my attention again. I went out to buy ‘Dirt‘ and a revisit to ‘Smart Casual’ followed soon after.

I was hooked. Kids In Glass Houses firmly became part of my staple playlist. My first time seeing them as a fan would be at the Brighton Centre once again as support for Stereophonics the next year (a show far better than that of my childhood heroes) but I had to wait until 2012 to finally see them headline when they returned for The Great Escape Festival. The gig flicked a switch in my mind that turned me from a big fan to a mega one. The very next week I would see an advert in SOURCE magazine (RIP) for a localish festival which they were headlining – Redfest. Tickets were swiftly booked and before I had even got to the quagmire that was Robin’s Cook Farm, I had made plans to head to Kingston to see ‘Smart Casual’ performed in full. Over the years, Kids In Glass Houses had gone from being the unfamiliar support act to my favourite band.

I would try and see KIGH (as I would now call them) as many times as I could but my thirteenth show would be their last. 19 years old and on my way to Cardiff for the first time in my life, it was clear that KIGH had been the masters of my ‘Teenage Wonderland’. During my four-and-a-half-hour pilgrimage, my brain began wandering off to all of the happy times I had shared with the band and how much had changed too.

I remembered being too embarrassed to get something signed by the band at Redfest 2012 (thanks Terri and Sarah for listening to me and not pressurising me). I remembered being too shy to speak to Aled Phillips at Slam Dunk the following year despite coincidentally standing next to him at the bar (thanks Lucy for completely ignoring me and forcing me to). I remembered just the couple of days before in London being able to confidently say “Thank you” to the band I’d soon say “Goodbye” to (thanks Lucille for taking the photos to prove it). I was pretty proud of how that naïve and stubborn fourteen year old had grown yet somehow stayed the same.

Wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with ‘The End Is KIGH’ (as compared to a Lazy Oaf cartoon print), leather jacket (instead of a hoody), blue skinny jeans (previously purple and tiger-striped) and Dr. Martens (ok, nothing’s changed there…), the girl stood in the crowd on the October 31st 2014 wasn’t unrecognisable from the one from back in 2009. I was and am still essentially the same except now I’m tall enough to see the stage, tough enough to handle the bruises, sensible enough to not go on a pre-gig fast, a fan enough to know every single word that is sung and attached enough to let the tears fall like ticker-tape.

Little did I know that some support band I’d denied the existence of five years ago would come to mean so much to me. Although they entered my life when I first saw them walk on stage, they didn’t leave mine when they exited for the last time. “Break Ups Suck”, as the band themselves would say, and goddamn it, they certainly do but their music is eternal. The day after Kids In Glass Houses called it quits, I returned home to see a relationship I was in suddenly end. It pulled the rug out from under my feet but what has always remained a constant comfort in my life (alongside my wonderful family and friends) is music. So, yes, “Break Ups Suck” – romantic and otherwise – but Kids In Glass Houses’ songs will always be in my life and their decision to split can never change that. The KIGH life is going to live forever.

Long Live Me ‘Cause I’ll Be Fine Without You

Amy Jo runs a Twitter fan account for Kids In Glass Houses and can be followed at @KIGHFan.

Amy Jo McLellan
Amy Jo McLellan is the editor of Alt Scribe. She started writing about music in 2010 and has been dancing about architecture ever since. She became a featured blogger for Buzznet after winning their 2011 ‘Summer of Buzz’ talent search. Amy knows far too much about her favourite bands and describes herself as a “professional fangirl”. CURRENTLY LISTENING TO: Kids In Glass Houses, Dawes. SPECIALIST SUBJECT: The rise and fall of 'Emo' 2006 - Now.

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