I’d heard of exactly…one…of the bands on the bill.
Out of four.
That’s pretty bad for a guy who’s spent as much time and money as I have going to concerts and discovering new bands.
A friend of mine who is absolutely not into metal or modern rock has a 14-year old daughter who is into metal and modern rock, and who absolutely adores Pierce the Veil.
PTV was on the bill that night.
Remember the Bob Geldof (of Boomtown Rats fame) story? About how all he remembers of his Beatles experience, when he saw them in the mid 1960’s, was the girls in the audience pissing themselves.
That night, with two 14-year old girls totally obsessed over PTV, wasn’t quite that bad but for a few minutes it was close.
My friend asked if I’d take her daughter and another girl to a concert in Bloomington. Her daughter’s very cool and it’d been a while since I’d been to a show and I digged the one bands I’d heard of so….
“Yeah, I’ll take ’em. It’ll be fun.”
And it was.
Dude, I’m getting old.
It wasn’t too loud; wasn’t Rush or U2 or Stones loud, but there were four damn bands. The shows started a bit after 6:30 Thursday and went on until…well, Saturday afternoon it felt like. So the cumulative loudness nearly broke me. I’ve been noise drunk before and will be again but holy balls, that night actually hurt a couple times.
That’s a first. Never, ever have my ears actually hurt at a show. Come on, I’m a drummer. I’ve been banging skins and going to shows for nearly thirty-five years. The only difference is…well, I’ve never been 46 going on 93 before.
But also, these was modern rock and these bands were way, heavily, massively into bass drums. Bono has a line about how U2 drummer Larry Mullen has tremendously heavy foot and singing in front of him and his bass drum night after night is like getting punched in the chest.
This show, with The Wonder Years, All Time Low, Pierce The Veil, and A Day To Remember, was like getting slugged in the chest.
And then, just for fun and variety, getting my ears boxed and occasionally having someone slam my teeth together.
So the volume let me know I was old, much as I hated to admit it. But there was something else.
Remember when you and I were hitting the shows? Remember when, during the power ballads and the epic stadium anthems, we’d yank out our lighters, flick them to life, and wave them back and forth? Sure, you remember…and you know if you’d had a chance to see the original Skynyrd, you’d have cranked that damned thing during ‘Freebird’ until your damn hand caught fire.
It ain’t lighters anymore, kids.
In the sea of maybe 5,000 people, I saw three lighters.
The geezers waved them.
I didn’t actually have a lighter, having not been a smoker since junior high school when I was trying desperately to unbutton a particular girl’s Levi 501s and she smoked. Ergo, if I smoked….
And if I’d had a lighter, I probably wouldn’t have cranked it up, but what struck me was that the entire arena lit up, just as if everyone had lighters.
Every bit of it. Well, except for the three geezers. It was exceedingly odd. Sure, I know phones are everywhere and in fact I teach my police recruits to remember that everyone now has a camera and videocamera with them at all times.
So it wasn’t that I wasn’t aware of cells, nor that they could be used as light. Hell, I’ve used mine as a flashlight in my own house before. But it was the application of something ubiquitous – the cell phone – to a ritual of nearly every concert I’d ever been to – lighting the place up for an emotional high.
Totally caught me by surprise. I leaned over to Makenna, my friend’s daughter, and said something about lighters versus cell phones and swear to all that’s sacred, she looked at me with a completely blank look on her face.
It was a look that said, “Holy balls, I didn’t realize you were that old.”
It was at almost that exact moment that my back started hurting, and my hearing started to go a little bit, and I wondered if maybe my pizza should be pureed so it’s easier to chew and if my next Social Security check would come in spite of the government shut down.
In other words, that’s when I felt old. Those damn kids with their pesky cell phones and their loud music. And look, just look, at those clothes!
Believe it or not, there was a plus side to all this. Makenna and her pal Amber had never been to an arena show before. They had no idea that the rain that soaked us to the bone while we waited for the doors to open was fun. They had no idea that knifing through the crowds standing at the merch tables, and yeah, having to elbow some of them out of the way, was fun. They had no idea that dodging and weaving through drunks to avoid their vomit was fun.
But the most fun for me was discovering that Makenna was just as big a music geek as I was, liked her music just as tough and hard as I did, and got just as excited when her band – Pierce The Veil – hit the stage as I still do when Rush or Buddy Guy or Dave Brubeck started playing (rock, blues, jazz…come on, expand your horizons).
She stood up when the second band came on and didn’t sit down until she got in the car to leave hours later. Her arms never came down. She never stopped screaming every word to every song for three entire bands. She never stopped cheering and clapping. And she never once, not once, looked like she wanted to be anywhere else.
And yeah, when PTV came out, that’s when I thought of the Geldof story. Thought I might have to strap her to the top of the truck coming home because I wasn’t going to sniff piss all the way home.
So some of the night I spent feeling old; out of the loop and two or three steps slow. But some of the night I spent feeling like a veteran; experienced and knowing and a jump or two ahead of my concert mates.
Two sides of the same record, I guess.
Hell, even writing that makes me feel old. No one does records anymore. It’s all downloads and this song or that song but definitely not that other song.
Though truth be told, Makenna did talk about PTV in terms of albums, and that’s what she called them…albums. So that made me feel slightly better.
As did the crowd surfing. There was a ton of it going on and as old as I am, more than once I thought about ditching the girls, hopping the railing, and doing me some surfing.
I could totally do it.
Well, I could if I’d taken my back pills. And gone to the bathroom first. And made sure someone knew where I was…just in case.
And for those interesting in such trivial matters, I never did get to touch those Levi 501 buttons. Damnit.