Confessions of a Thefthead

More specifically, should I say, confessions of a fangirling Thefthead.

On Saturday March 15 2014, I had the ultimate privilege of attending my second CMC Rocks the Hunter country music festival. Because of education engagements on Friday and work responsibilities on Sunday, I was only able to attend the three-day music festival on Saturday. That was completely fine by me. Why? Because my idols, Love and Theft, were performing on Saturday. Sure, country music greats like Gretchen Wilson were performing on Saturday as well, but I was no where near as excited for her as I was for Love and Theft.

Stephen and Eric, in the flesh.

Stephen and Eric, in the flesh.

I can’t even remember when my fandom for Love and Theft even started. I just remember one moment I was Youtubing some of their stuff and listening to it, and the next, I had both of their albums (two copies of one) and a custom Love and Theft iPhone case. My friends can tell you that they are tired of seeing me gram pictures of Eric and Stephen (the men who comprise this awesome musical duo) instead of actual Instagram things, like pictures of what I had to eat that day, or awkward full length mirror selfies of my OOTD.

Love and Theft were scheduled to perform at last year’s CMC Rocks the Hunter, but due to circumstances – Eric’s gorgeous son Camden William Gunderson came a bit early – they were unable to play. I had bought them presents to give to them at the festival so this was a big blow to me. However, when you’re a Thefthead, where there’s a will, there’s a way. I posted to every LNT social media outlet I could until I found out their PO box, so I shipped their presents to them with a handwritten letter with one small request to let me know that they got their presents. What I got in return, however, was a picture of them with their gifts, holding my letter, and an e-mail saying that my package had made their day. When I saw this, I kid you not – I was running around the house, screaming and saying “OH MY GOD, NO THEY DIDN’T! OH MY GOD NO THEY DID NOT!”

The picture they sent me, with my letter in Stephen's hand.

The picture they sent me, with my letter in Stephen’s hand.

So, in 2014, this was my first time seeing them perform ever. Ever. I mean, like, ever. Needless to say, I was acting like a scared chook running for its life. With an extremely high pitched voice.

My best friend and I rocked up about a hour and a half before the boys were to perform. Why? Because I wanted to get a good spot at the front of the mosh and didn’t care how long I had to stand there for it. Fortunately for me, we got good spots at the front. The sun was blazing and I was in painted on jeans and cowboy boots, but I didn’t care. What was actually two hours later, the boys graced us with their presence. I screamed. I jumped. I waved. I screamed some more. I jumped some more.

My personalised autographed LNT merch.

My personalised autographed LNT merch.

All bias aside, Love and Theft were amazing. SIMPLY AMAZING. They were everything I ever expected them to be PLUS more. They sung several of their hit songs, a couple of covers, and interesting “duet” of sorts with Blackjack Billy, and Stephen even busted out a few Eminem lyrics to Lose Yourself – the latter of which can be found at this link. Excuse the shaking. I was a bit excited.

As I am familiar with how CMC Rocks works, I knew that right after their performance, they would be heading up to the CD tent to do a meet-and-greet and autograph signing. As soon as they had finished their set – which included running up and down past the gate slapping hands with the fans (me included, which provoked a “OMG I TOUCHED THEIR HANDS” comment) – my BFFL and I literally sprinted up the hill to the CD tent. We were still very far back in the line but it doesn’t matter. I was going to meet my idols for the very first time! Like last year, I bought Eric and Stephen a bag of presents. The catch? I left it in the car. In painted on jeans and cowboy boots, I sprinted to my car to pick up their presents and rush back to the line, and after all that cardio, we hadn’t moved in the line. It’ll be worth it, I thought to myself positively.

Two hours (LITERALLY) later in the line and I was at the front. CMC officials were coming around selling copies of their self-titled albums because they would only take a picture with you if you had official merch to sign, and I proudly boasted my three Love and Theft CDs from home. Bitches came prepared. I was at the front of the line. It was my turn. I literally felt as if I had to throw up because I was that excited. They turned around. I put on my best genuine smile and said “I bought presents for you guys.” Both Eric and Stephen responded with genuine gratitude and Stephen even hugged me. YES. STEPHEN BARKER LILES HUGGED ME. Stephen asked me what I bought them and I spat out a nervous rant on “how I didn’t want them to open it in front of me in case they didn’t like it and I saw their reactions and died.” Eric offered me a more reserved handshake and thanked me. Because of this, Stephen wanted to personalise my autographs for me so he asked my name. I replied with “Noah” whilst trying to remember how to stand up. I took my photo with them. Eric shook my hand again and both me thanked me for my gifts. We walked off so the people behind us could get their turn.

Serious contender for best day of my life.

Serious contender for best day of my life.

I was shaking. My best friend had to take the merch and my phone off me because I couldn’t hold it. I was literally shaking. “Oh my god, I just met Love and Theft. Oh my god, Stephen hugged me. Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god.” The teenage girl in me had risen.

In what was originally supposed to be a short memoir of sorts, has turned into a 1000+ word spiel. I don’t know, I guess it’s what happens when you are an ultimate fan. Or in my case, the no#1 Thefthead in Australia (and the world!)

Oh, and did I mention Eric commented on my Instagram picture thanking me for the gifts? You can only imagine my screaming reply.

– by The Black Widow

The Truth about Country Music

The genre of country music is, generally speaking, a path less travelled. It is a genre of music the regular Joe/Jill blow wouldn’t go out of their way to listen to. Many people view it as a genre of music that is difficult to get behind.

“Most young people don’t like to conform with society. In country towns like mine, country music is a big thing, but for every adult who likes country music, you’ll have 10 younger people who don’t,” Matthew Winter said when asked why he thought country was difficult to like.

As a country music fan and enthusiast, I can say that country music is probably the easiest genre of music to listen to because of its easy, uplifting sound and solidly-written lyrics.

The general stereotype of country music that is enforced in today’s culture is that of a toothless redneck strumming on a banjo on the front verandah of his outback residence singing about how fun it is to ride tractors, wear blue jeans and twirl around a lasso. This cringeworthy stereotype could not be further from the truth as the genre tackles a lot of different issues and angles other than horse riding and hat wearing.

Eric Gunderson and Stephen Barker Liles of Love and Theft.

Eric Gunderson and Stephen Barker Liles of Love and Theft (SOURCE: Taste of Country website)

Love and Theft, an American based country duo consisting of Eric Gunderson and Stephen Barker Liles, sing about a range of topics, none of which include “Yee-haw” or “Giddy up, cowgirl”. The song “Town Drunk” which can be heard on their self-titled album, is about the singer’s relationship with a girl “whose Daddy was the town drunk” and how both the singer and girl dealt with him. This song had even reportedly brought Stephen to tears when he first heard it.

Living in the city of Sydney, it’d be easier to find a purple tree sprouting pink leaves than it would be to find a dedicated country music fan in the ‘burbs, however I asked a friend of mine who is passionate about both metal and country (polar opposites on the music genre spectrum) why he loved country.

“Country music is more than just music. It’s a connection to life for many people out there, and not only does it relax the mind, but it puts a smile on your face, whether it be wanting to hang out with the guys and skull a couple of drinks, or just working hard in the backyard; country sets the mood for a hard working person who really does love life, family, friends, and country tradition. In many ways, I believe country music is the most influential genre out there today,’ Marcel Wehbe said.

I couldn’t have explained it better myself. Country music always sets the intended mood, whether that be happiness and a good time (‘Save Water, Drink Beer’ by Chris Young), sadness and grief (‘Over You’ by Miranda Lambert) or just plain country silliness (‘Honky Tonk Badonkadonk’ by Trace Adkins), country has no trouble eliciting any response from the listener and it does a damn good job of it as the listener can truly empathise with the mood being set by the music and lyrics.

I was born in a country town named Bathurst in New South Wales which is, unfortunately, not known for country music but for its car racing. Regardless, I asked one of my old Bathurst friends Heidi Luther what she liked about country music and what she thought set it apart from every other genre of music.

“I love that I can relate to a lot of country music. Whether it be love, heartbreak, loss, hard work, drinking, or being a proud woman.. I’ve been there! Nothing sets the dancer inside of us off, like a strong country beat! There is nothing quite like it in any other music,” she said.

While I am openly a “country head”, I am open to most genres of music and find myself listening to all kinds of songs, from old school RnB to alternative rock and even house. These popular contemporary songs can generally be found on the mainstream channels of music, if I may make a pay TV reference, while country has its own channel neatly tucked away in the form of the Country Music Channel. If I switch on one of the other generic channels, I could listen to a few songs in a row but then eventually one song will pop up that I’m not too fond of which will make me switch channels.

That isn’t the case with country music, or the CMC more specifically. I can leave that on and I am pretty much guaranteed that every song that will come on in a row, I will like and not have an issue listening to. Country is so dang easy to listen to; there is nothing too hardcore or too extreme about the genre that’ll turn off the more conservative and it’s not dull and bland to turn off the less conservative. If given a chance, country can appeal to most people out there because of its infectious nature.

The sad, unfortunate truth is just that, though: the general young adult will not give country the time of day because of the stereotypes enforced for the genre.

I’d like to think I’ve broken these stereotypes, put them back together just to break them again with a running bicycle kick by explaining the truth behind country music and why people should give it a chance. It’s really some great listening and the artists themselves are so damn loveable. I dare you to not like someone as down to earth as Lady Antebellum or as outrageously funny like Blake Shelton.

– by The Black Widow