Picture via Lions’ Facebook page
By Jack Evans
Two days ago, I moved into my college dorm room. That in itself has a pretty major cultural significance, but I think it’s an even bigger deal for me than it is for some people: I’m living six hours away from my hometown, Knoxville, Tennessee, the city where I spent the first 18-and-a-half years of my life (the last 14 in the same house). Over the past few weeks, I’ve made it a point to spend lots of time with my friends and family and to visit my favorite local businesses and restaurants. I got particularly lucky that the night before I left to drive up to Indiana was also the night of a house show headlined by my favorite local band (and one of my favorite bands, period), Lions, in what was, ironically, their homecoming show after a three-week tour.
I’ve seen Lions play somewhere around ten times since I first saw them last winter, in places from the hot, beat-up Longbranch Saloon to the inside of a brand new Urban Outfitters. And while seeing the same band that many times may seem excessive – or obsessive – to some, it’s one of the things that made my last year in Knoxville so special. I think that’s because, aside from being with friends and family, one of the best ways to find happiness is to find something amazing in the community and latch onto it, and because a Lions show, where dozens of people cram into a small living room to scream lyrics along with a band playing on the same floor space, is the definition of a community experience.
On Monday night, Lions closed with “Stuck in Our Small Town,” a track from their excellent 2012 EP MTNZ. I’d been hoping that they’d end with it, not just because it’s one of my favorite Lions songs but also because its lyrics (“I care about all of the people, but I’ll box up my favorite things”) have been resonating with me a lot lately. Even so, it was better than I ever could have anticipated: the song is always great with a crowd, as its bridge provides a top-notch sing-along moment, but at that moment, everybody near me locked arms around shoulders, and at the climax, someone jumped off a couch and crowd-surfed. It was a display of pure energy and community, two of the things I’ve associated with Lions from the beginning. And it was the perfect way to say goodbye to Knoxville.
Lions MTNZ EP is available on their Bandcamp, wearelions.bandcamp.com.