After driving an hour south in Rebecca Vines’ (Bex) 2011 Nissan Sentra, I had the opportunity to witness Tom Angst’s last show ever at the Radio Room in Greenville, South Carolina. Backed by Daddy’s Beemer, Danielle McConaghy, the genius behind the guitar and vocals of Tom Angst, ended an era with glistening eyes and an angelic voice matched by no other. Opening for Athens based band Mothers, Danielle and her friends from Clemson took the stage with equal amounts of vulnerability and confidence. 

The four of them played old tunes alongside new, fresh ones, seemingly intentionally placed to create a feeling of local inclusion for those joining Tom Angst on the end of their two year-long journey across states and genres, not in that order. 

About a month after their last live show, Tom Angst released their final EP, Matthew. I listened to it for the first time in an old van that belonged to Dexter of Nashville’s the Holifields, while on tour with Bex and Charm. Fresh from the mechanic in Auburn, Massachusetts after a five-day mishap with faulty brakes, the van uncovered itself as the best source of music listening for me at that moment in time. The EP, beginning with a song familiar to me, seems like a perfect recap of Tom Angst’s creation, exploration, and conclusion. This track, “Midnight” seems like a good track for recovery. With incredibly personal lines like “What can you say if you're not right/ You walk away so we don't fight/ I bring it up after midnight / Tell me not to control your life,” listeners can peer through the keyhole into Danielle’s life while investigating the changes in Tom Angst as a project. 

Continuing the story, “Dimple” is yet another personal track on the EP. The classic Tom Angst, fresh guitar tone paired with somber lyrical details like “In my dreams you're still my guy/ So when I wake up I just cry,” allows listeners to continue their involvement in Danielle’s life, as well as this changing, growing part of her life. Yet again, this is continued during “Friends,” the third track on the EP, with Forth Wanderer-esque drum fills that carry the song perfectly. 

At the end of the EP, during “Matthew,” an inspiring, feeling title track, listeners are forced to be empathetic with the artists they listen to. On this track, Danielle proves to herself and others that the importance of active music listening is only surpassed by the indication that empathy is at the root of necessary music such as this. The sustained, melismatic “oooo” provides listeners with the perfect amount of time to reflect upon the end of an era,  the introspection Danielle must be experiencing, and the future of her music. 


audrey keelin