One of my favorite things in the entire world is live music. The energy that a live show creates is palpable, and nowhere is this more true than at a rock show. Rock shows, eg. Toadies, Foo Fighters, Arctic Monkeys, Nine Inch Nails, and others have historically been some of my favorite concert experiences. Everyone is your best friend at these shows. You and the scary looking guy next to you, and all the scary looking people surrounding you are united by a common thread: the love of thrashing around in your cars to the same cds. People at the shows are also kind and often helpful. One time a lovely stoned stranger took me by the hand and walked me around in circles through the venue helping me look for a restroom without a line. Another time a large man lifted me by the armpits from the front row into the fringes because I had to pee and I was trapped. A lot of my helpful-stranger stories center around concert venue restrooms. Which are awful by the way. I try not to ever have to use them.
One time while playing Apples to Apples when my clue was something like “spiritual awakening,” I ignored the cards that said “church” and “nirvana” and “illegal drugs” and awarded the person who gave me the card “rock concert.” The energy of rock music is high, and the energy at the shows is electric. Time becomes irrelevant and I don’t care that I’m standing in inappropriate shoes on sticky floors just centimeters from layers of humanity with questionable hygiene practices. For an introverted homebody like myself, this is a spiritual experience.
Last night I went to an amazing show to see Death From Above 1979, who rocked out a favorite smallish local venue. The place was packed, and the crowd, myself included, was excited. The band is touring for the first time in ten years, and there were a lot of fans there that had waited a long time for that moment. The show didn’t disappoint, and despite the fact that I had already worked a 13 hour shift before arriving at the late concert, I had a really fun night. It was a night, though, that forced me to acknowledge yet again that I am getting older.
For one thing, I wore foam earplugs. I took them out after the band left the stage, and I was shocked by the volume of the Pasty Cline recording playing. I can only imagine what the actual un-plugged concert would have done to my fragile earballs. My years of attending loud concerts have not paid any favors to my aural health, and I already have to ask people to repeat themselves in conversation way more than is socially acceptable. There is no shame in wearing attractive blue foam ear plugs to a concert; in fact I am proud of myself for being proactive about my health while doing what I enjoy.
That’s how Adults talk. Capital a.
Gone are the days of my jumping around directly in front of the speakers the entire show, not being able to hear normally for three days, and not giving a shit. I did watch the younger versions of myself doing this last night. They stood in the very front row against the stage, where they had probably been standing for the past 3-4 hours, just to secure the privilege of being able to inspect the bassist’s nostrils during songs. One of them even jumped up on stage for a moment of glory before one of the roadies came over and frowned until he jumped down.
I whispered, “Have fun. In ten years you will be watching yourself from the balcony and reminiscing about this very moment.”
In the balcony, wearing comfy sensible shoes, I watched the band with one eye and the shoulder blade of a 6’4″ guy standing in front of me with the other. I nodded my head to the beat and occasionally bounced on my heels during my favorite songs. I crossed and recrossed my arms, shifted from leg to leg and wondered how much longer it would be before I could sit down. The sweaty strangers smashed against me created a warm atmosphere, and it was hard not to lean against a wall and nap to the relaxing tunes like this.
Adults talk about naps as enjoyable activities. Young people don’t do that.
I refuse to concede that I will ever be too old to attend rock shows, or any shows for that matter. I do reluctantly admit, however, that I am no longer young enough to rock out with abandon. I’m no longer able to pull off getting drunk and screaming alongside hundreds of equally drunk strangers at a concert until I lose my voice. I’m too old to be able to pile in a tiny car with 8 people, show up to a show without a ticket, then charm my way into the show for free. (That actually happened, but it also involved a 2 mile walk through a bad neighborhood in the dark and getting bounced three times before I successfully went in. I would never do this now because I’m also too old to be an idiot.)
I have to say I am happy being the sober slightly older chick with no makeup, comfortable shoes and earplugs, and a respect for personal space enjoying the musical song show (that’s what the kids call it). I no longer feel a desire to fight through a sea of elbows to get to the front by the stage. I’ll be happy to have a beer and take three hours to finish it. I will complain about parking and noise and the shows that have to start so damn late (9pm)!
I drive an energy efficient vehicle. I don’t want kids on my lawn. I turn down opportunities for free alcohol for opportunities to go to bed early. I eat a sensible breakfast every day. My peers are parents. Undeniably I have entered some sort of adult stage of life, a stage that kids say they will never reach. And I’m okay with that. I’m not sad about getting older, just happy to look back and realize that I have lived.