Before I start, a disclaimer: I’ve become good friends with the guys in AIRHOCKEY over the past couple years. That being said, of course I’m going to be biased as heck writing this cheesy farewell.
During their last show on July 18, in an overflowing Bloomington basement, AIRHOCKEY’s vocalist Tyler Littlejohn told the already-drunk crowd, “We have new songs, but we aren’t going to play them. Just the old ones.” And then they began their ending.
I’ve never seen such a mix of young and young-ish faces completely losing their minds over every single note. Some close friends of the band stood up front and pumped proud fists. A few stood in the back, air-drumming along to Brett Sibley’s masterful fills. The majority of the crowd, though, was in the middle, moshing and yelling along with Tyler’s heartfelt, slightly out of tune words. It really was the show that they deserved.
I’ve always loved watching the crowd get rowdy for AIRHOCKEY, because their songs are so short. It’d be a neck-jarring 45 seconds of pandemonium followed by three minutes of standing around and heckling as guitarist Bill Stack tried to tune his guitar by ear. He never bought that damn tuning pedal.
For a whiny emo band, AIRHOCKEY could get heavy. I’m talking: excessively down-tuned guitars, slow and stomping beats that could even be considered “breakdown-worthy." Plus, the heaviest part of the ensemble: their lyrics.
From “When It Matters Most": “You make the biggest plans as if it's what you deserve, but you whisper ‘tomorrow’ as if it's a curse word, and you see the ending without moving your restless feet, and seem so confused when everyone decides to leave. You forgot how to swim and expect them to go underneath.”
Despite their own lyrics' forewarning, half the band is moving away to pursue their various walks of life. Tyler is moving to China to teach kids. (I can only imagine it’ll end up like an uplifting Adam Sandler movie where the students end up teaching him.) Brett is moving to Denver with his fiancée for further schooling. (I can only imagine it’ll end up like an uplifting Cheech and Chong movie with all of that legal weed.)
Luckily, the other half of AIRHOCKEY is not simply left in the dirt. Bill also plays guitar in Pessoa, another emo band currently recording new music that will blow your mind. Bassist Steve McAtee plays in an upcoming indie group called Nightcap, and he has a few other projects in the works.
Like their short songs and their short two years as a band, I want to keep my goodbye to them short and sweet. Thanks for keeping the Indianapolis scene healthy and fun for a little bit. Thanks for being friendly faces and all-around goofy dudes. Thanks for making powerful music anybody in their early twenties can relate to. Best of luck to all of you and your future endeavors.