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Help Yourself

It was back in junior high when I first heard of Anberlin, all due to my high school crush of course. This band was his absolute favorite and he would post on MySpace (throwback, I know), their songs all the time; so I thought maybe this could be my excuse to talk to him. Fast forward a year and my crush had faded away but my love for Anberlin lingered. When I finally got to see them live at the Paradise Rock Club in Boston, MA; my love for Anberlin really grew and it changed my life completely. Literally, it was because of a Facebook posting for that show is how I got into music photography (longer version of that story is coming soon).  I remember walking out of the Paradise with so much new merch that when I look back now I wonder where the hell I had the money for that. 

For me, a band really stands out when they have a good sound but even better lyrics. I believe that the meaning behind a song or album needs to have genuine emotion and rawness to it. Anberlin was that type of band who could create those types of songs and if you ever saw them live then you know what I’m talking about too. Each album they had connected to me on several different aspects of my life; from losing my brother, losing my innocence, to discovering who I was, and even to when I made my move to Chicago. 

"Don't drop your arms, I'll guard your heart
With quiet words I'll lead you in"

By the time I moved to Chicago, I was a little bit more established as a music photographer, representing an outlet and actually had a DLSR. So this meant that I really had to try and photograph Anberlin and to my luck I had that chance at the House of Blues. I remember being in the pit for that show and trying not to get caught up and sing along, just because I really wanted to try and capture those moments in front of them. Once I was out of the pit, I knew that I could let loose and enjoy the space I was in. I will completely admit that this band has made me cry several times and the first time was that night. They played ‘The Unwinding Cable Car’ and the entire mood of the venue changed; it was like a blanket of serenity covered the crowd. There is a part in this particular song (you'll have to go listen to it) that Stephen Christian (lead vocals) sings, it was at this point where the venue was completely dark except for a spotlight on him as he held the note. I was pretty much floored and so wasn’t everyone else there that night. 

"There are songs I'll never write
Because of you walking out of my life"

January 2014, I was working at my college’s athletic department when I got a notification on my phone about Anberlin posting a new video. Instantly I watched and my day went to night rather quickly; they announced their breakup. 


They announced that they will be doing a farewell tour and they invited fans to enjoy in the celebrate that is Anberlin. That’s when it really hit me; I had seen this band multiple times, have their merch, have photographed them, but never met them to say how much I appreciate their music. There was my goal for 2014. 

It was the Summer of that same year when I was assigned to attend Chicago’s Warped Tour date to photograph. I was thrilled but also explained to my editors that they wouldn’t get any photos of Anberlin because what I knew at that point, this would be the last time I would see them. With my group of friends we set out to get our jobs done and enjoy the day, but not without finding Anberlin’s tent.

I’ll never forget when I walked up to the tent and pretty much asked for one of everything… no joke. My gear in my backpack was now surrounded by tons of merch…why not, right? I ran back to this same tent later in the day to meet the band. Yes, it finally happened when I got to tell each member how much I loved their music and what it meant to me and how’s influenced me. I gave a note to Stephen that day and I sometimes wish that I actually wrote a solid letter to them instead of scribbling last minute on a piece of paper. 

Fun Fact: they announced some additional dates for a Fall tour…Chicago was on there.

"I have my reasons, for the vices I embrace.
A world of treasons, and I'm their only escape"

October 21st, 2014 - I was torn whether or not to photograph their last show in Chicago. Did I want to be up close with the band for a few moments? Or did I want to lose myself in the community of people who felt as close to the band as I did? A difficult choice but a clear answer. 

I waited outside the House of Blues in Chicago with other Anberlin fans, met great people, brought tons of merch (clearly this is where all my money goes), and enjoyed the night with one of my closest friends Abby. Anberlin really put me through a rollercoaster of emotions that night by playing songs that really spoke to me. Songs that reminded me of my brother’s passing, the song I used to break up with someone I loved, songs I listened to when I was homeless on the streets, songs that I remember blasting when I was biking feeling like I could escape. This is precisely what I wrote on the note to Stephen and gave to him. I laughed, I cheered, I cried, I danced, I sweated…like a lot; and it was perfection.

"I’ve seen faces I may never see again
I’ve been places I never could have dreamt
I’ve touched hands with those who touched me"

It’s 2016 and a few days ago I got my Help Yourself vinyl set from Anberlin. This set is a symbol of their life as a band, a celebration of what they did, and I take it as a symbol of my growth. I’m a young woman in Chicago still chasing her dreams, consistently losing herself in all that she does, makes mistakes, not sure what to do one moment, and even more lost the next; but that's okay. So I’ll take this set and will actually use their music and the memories they have left behind to literally “help myself”. 

And by any chance that the guys of Anberlin do see this…thank you for everything. #AnberlinForever

A fan forever,


Kris Fuentes CortesComment