This blog has no informative content. Nope, it’s just a rant to get it off my chest. The topic: concerts. I am getting old, and nothing allows my age to slap me in the face more than doing the things I used to do during that phase of life where we all think we are impervious and immortal. Rock concerts top that list. I have always loved loud, energetic musical performances. I never use earplugs, I enjoy head-thrashing and fist-pumping, and I can jump on the balls of my feet for hours on end (although as gravity has its way with my body, I pay increasingly higher penalties the next morning). My favorite part is when the bass and drum rhythms are so powerful that they seem to dominate my heart and force it to beat in time. I know, so far, this isn’t a rant at all. Wait for it.
Beer. If concerts are the Promised Land, then beer is the “milk and honey” that courses through it as its lifeblood. Even with the hefty premiums they charge for venue drinking, no one is visibly deterred from purchasing and consuming copious amounts throughout the night. Beer is a bad band’s best friend (like it is an unattractive person’s at a club), as the more people drink, the better the band sounds – or the less the audience’s ears can discern symphony from cacophony. It makes for unlikely bedfellows among concert-goers (that’s only partially tongue-and-cheek), uniting the 60 year old grandpa trying to recapture his “glory days,” with the young hipster whose days in the sun have only begun. It brings life to a lifeless party, and party to a party-less life. Yes, beer is a magical elixir with many unique properties. Unfortunately, I can’t stand the stuff. Soooo, even if I wanted to get loaded for the show (or to become the show, as the case may be), I don’t have many options. Instead, I get to watch everyone else as they drain cup…after cup…after cup. This brings us to a dilemma: do I want to watch the band, or do I want to duck defensively as the drunk boneheads around me begin forgetting that the overly-full container in their hand is not an extension of their uncontrollable, flailing arms? (Cups with lids, maybe? Or plastic bottles? Something? Please?) I become distracted (to varying degrees, depending on the musical genre and attendee demographic) by the comical “dancing” and otherwise embarrassing behavior of those around me, which is entertaining at first but by night’s end has me running a mental list of 10+ people who are one bump or catcall away from an arse beating (pardon my British). Drunk people are only funny if a) they aren’t near enough to disturb you – physically or audibly, or b) you’re also drunk so you don’t notice. I find that rarely are either of these conditions met. The conclusion is that, at least at concerts, beer is not my friend.
Last night, I went to the best concert I’ve ever attended. The opening acts were decent (one quite good), and the headliner played for 3 hours and 10 minutes. I was moved; I was rocked; I was entranced; and I was standing in a section of people who might as well been waiting in the DMV line. While I appreciate the “personal space” of having a designated seat, I don’t go to (most) concerts to sit down, and if there are people in the seats on either side of you, well…we’re all familiar with the awkward elbow positioning that ensues. And if you and your neighbors have different ideas of appropriate concert behavior, it can get downright dangerous. For example, at the show last night, there was this guy on Pinney’s left who looked exactly like Drew Brees (uncanny resemblance), was flamingly gay – his boyfriend in tow – and was an insanely devoted fan. As it turns out, he also had the most uncoordinated, spaz-tastic dance moves anyone could imagine (as the world learned from Carson Kressley on Dancing With the Stars, apparently being able to groove like John Travolta is not a prerequisite for being gay). I had to keep pulling Pinney toward me because I was afraid the guy was going to knock him out with a straying – and ridiculously enthusiastic – air guitar movement, as he was in full performance mode. Pinney didn’t mind getting out of the way, since he thought the guy was touching his butt on purpose (we’re still unsure about that). Then we have the folks next to me, who were as utterly lifeless as Gay Brees was wired. They stood for a while, “Face Timing” every few minutes with their chubby son who apparently needed to see the concert but hadn’t been invited…by his own parents. There they stood, like bumps on a log, alternating between Face Time and solitaire on their phones, until they finally sat down (the solitaire continued, though). If I danced, my butt was in the woman’s face; if I jumped, I managed to come down on her foot (which, for the record, was encroaching onto my 4 square inches of floor space); and if on occasion I managed to do neither, she strategically shifted so that the next time, I managed to do both at once. I finally succumbed to the pressure and stood there with my knees locking up like everyone else. Best concert ever, and I couldn’t freaking move. It was awesome, really.
And let me not forget about Bubba and his brother, Junior, who had been intermittently yelling “FOOOOOOOOO” (the band was the Foo Fighters) since before the opening band started playing. Bubba and Junior were the stereotypical obnoxious rednecks, cutoff t-shirts and all – the kind of white trash that gives all southerners a bad rep. They were fat, loud and sweaty, and though it must have taken darn near $100 worth of beer a piece, they were drunk off their rockers. Had there been chicken wings involved, I’d have sworn I was at a NASCAR race. You know those moments when you are seriously pondering how you can punch someone in the face without having to touch their nasty selves? Well, maybe you don’t…but you would if you’d seen Bubba and Junior.
The one other issue (not limited to but specially manifested at concerts) is, MY WORD, WHY ARE PEOPLE DRESSING LIKE PROSTITUTES? Ok, when it’s the pretty young women, it may not seem as objectionable (certainly not to the gawking men), but it should be. I’m fairly sure most men would be horrified to see their daughter or sister or wife prancing around half nekked, and they ought to keep that in mind before ogling. So what is the latest fashion? Apparently, it is cute knee-high boots paired with what I still contend are little more than (slightly) oversized shirts, which little more than (very slightly) cover women’s bums. Come on, girls! Don’t be shallow enough to assume that just because you’re pretty and slim, the old “cow and milk” adage doesn’t apply, because it certainly DO. And on the other end of the spectrum, there are the women who have raided their teenaged daughter’s closet, and obviously they didn’t bother to turn the light on. Pinney and I never went for longer than 3 minutes at a time without one of us pointing and gasping in horror. It was reminiscent of a freak show at the circus. Classy.
The moral of the story is this: people are gross, drunken people are grosser, and drunk people at a concert? Exponentially more disgusting. But I love music more than I detest all of the above, so until I get too old to handle the noise or too violent to stop myself from getting arrested, I will continue to go and put up with the madness. I did make my mind up last night that regardless of whether Pinney refuses to accompany me into the “GA” area of the venue, from now on I will purchase that ticket for myself anyway. At my age, it gets more and more difficult to find friends who will put up with the lack of a seat (really, at the majority of shows, that’s the only drawback to the floor tickets) so I may have to go alone. But when in my life has that ever stopped me from anything? And that’s my rant.