By Katie Marks
If there was one tour that you should have gone to in 2018, it would have been Real Friends’ Fall in the USA tour. Earlier in November, Boston’s Royale became the mecca for pop-punk fans as one of the best lineups for 2018 rolled into town: Eat Your Heart Out, Grayscale, Boston Manor, and Real Friends.
Coined “Illinois Sad Boys,” Real Friends is a punk quintet based out of Tinley Park, Illinois. Following a full run on Vans Warped Tour 2018 and their latest release, “Composure”, the boys were back for a fall US tour.
This was the first large show I have ever attended by myself, yet I never felt more comfortable than in the rough crowd during each set. Real Friends are legends in the hardcore scene for their energetic crowds, and this audience was definitely ready. Fans joined together during each set to carry crowd surfers, hype up the bands, and just thoroughly enjoy themselves.
Real Friends frontman Dan Lambton pulled everyone in when he stepped on stage, shouting obscenities and hellos into the microphone. Without a pause, the band jumped into their latest album’s first track, “Me First.” The fans were deafening singing back to the group, crowd surfers already flowing over barricades.
The setlist was a well-balanced mix of old and new for Real Friends, and it was great to hear how the band has grown over the years as the set progressed. Throughout it all, the band and crowd’s energy bounced off each other. Classics like “Late Nights In My Car,” “Mess,” and “Summer” united the audience like a choir as the band excitedly jumped around the stage with their instruments.
Bassist Kyle Fasel stepped up to his microphone as the band prepared to end the show, providing a touching background of the final song, “From The Outside.” The crowd listened respectfully as Fasel acknowledged the stigma against mental illness, the death of his close friend, and other inspirations behind the song. With a supportive cheer from the audience, Real Friends transitioned into the pop-influenced intro. The crowd, myself included, screamed the lyrics back to Lambton as he danced around the stage.
There was a thunderous uproar as the band offered a final thanks and a shower of guitar picks, setlists, and drumsticks as the Illinois’ sad boys exited the stage. Despite the house lights rising and the crowd dispersing, the electric energy was almost tangible throughout the venue. A group of boys started their own circle pit alone on the floor as the preset playlist played and the crew broke down the stage set.
It was snowing when I left the venue and I didn’t have a jacket, yet I couldn’t have felt warmer. Real Friends never cease to provide comfort and happiness to me and so many others. Here’s to hoping they come back soon.