Sunday, July 23, 2017

Concert


I went to a concert yesterday. it might be the last one I ever attend, so I thought I'd write about it. It's going to be a very long story so I'll spare you the preamble.



There was a dude who was in line with us before the show that was absolutely hilarious. I'll call him Drunk Guy because he was drinking and being very bold and friendly with everyone, but he wasn't sloppy or incoherent or anything. He will be the star of this story.

As you can see, the opening act was Pvris (which is apparently pronounced "Paris", according to the people around me.) They're a pretty decent band with a good amount of energy. Possibly something I'd listen to again. And they weren't too loud, which I was worried about since we were about five feet from the stage and there were two rows of speakers directly above us.

The lead singer was a spunky girl with very blonde, almost off-white hair (I overheard someone mention she was prviously in Metric?) who bounced onstage in a black tank top - and no bra. Drunk Guy was quite impressed by this, shouting at her randomly throughout their set. Nothing too awful, stuff like "I want to go to Paris!" though I think he said "take off your top" once. 


I always feel for the opening act because you know they're up on stage killing it for a half-empty crowd of people who have never heard of them. But they sure tried to get everyone into it. The singer would shout a call-and response at us "How's everybody doing tonight?!?" and after a couple back-and-forths in her powerful rocker chick voice she'd then change to this sweet girlish pitch to say "cool."

We were closest to the bass player, a Latino-looking dude who I really dug because a) he's a lefty(!) and b) even though he had double-duty playing a keyboard for a lot of their set he played the shit out of that bass, head-banging and flipping his long spongey curls almost to the ground. And the singer did help him out a bit by playing a couple keys (she also jumped onto the drum kit and banged out some beats up there.)

When their half-hour set was over, there was quite a bit of downtime before 30 Seconds To Mars. But there was a lot going on around me. A young foursome behind me was trying to elbow their way up to the front by bargaining with the "Muse people" saying "as soon as 30 Seconds To Mars is over, we'll be out of your way." They didn't try to get past me - or the good-looking girl to my left. Actually, there was a good-looking girl to my right, too. 


Drunk Guy was in my vicinity when we reconvened in the pit and someone must have indicated him to clear room for this girl and her older companion (which I will assume was her mom) because he turned around and said "oh, she's cute" Maybe he was talking to her mom, I dunno. But she definitely heard him and he definitely did not care. Hot Girl would soon use this to bargain with the guy, explaining that she wanted to get on stage when 30STM did their last song. Naturally he volunteered to carry her on his shoulders to catch Jared Leto's attention when the time came. Throughout the 45 minutes or so these two strangers were plotting to get her up there, and he insisted multiple times that he would do it.

So yeah, I was the rancid meat in a hot girl sandwich. At one point I imagined myself throwing an arm around each one and taking a douche selfie, but even if I wasn't there with my wife the hottie to my right was obviously preoccupied. 

This is where I have to tell you that the drunk guy was not particularly attractive - and the girl most definitely was. This dude was stocky but not fat, and balding but not quite bald. Just sort of an average guy who made himself the life of the party. He was macking on this girl hard, but not in a sexually suggestive way. Before and even during 30 Seconds To Mars, they were taking selfies together (the girl's mom was in a few) and exchanging e-mails. I'm looking at this guy like there is a 50% change he gets laid tonight, and if he can get her on stage next to Jared Leto, those odds might double.

The girl on my left was maybe a half-notch below her, just enough that'd I'd consider her "attainable hot." She was tan but not too tan, skinny but not too skinny, and her long curls were all different shades of blonde, like the dye was halfway washed out or something. Because she was on my flank, I didn't get a decent look at her face, but I could tell she had pretty eyes cause her lashes were very long. And she wore these red Chuck Taylors that I love so much I gave them to Amber in my unfinished Lighthouse novel.

Attainably Hot Girl seemed to be there alone, but because I was there with D (and not filled with liquid courage) D talked to her a lot more than I did. The constant shuffling of the crowd coupled with my aching legs caused me to bump into her a couple times (giggidy) and so at one point I felt the need to tell her and anyone else around me "I'm sorry if I bump into you." She understood. [After the show, D would tell me that she was very nice, which was both reassuring and frustrating. Also, she was there with a female friend who was closer to the front.]

 
By this point I was becoming aware of the puddle of water on the ground beneath my feet. At first I thought that someone had spilled their cup, but there was far too much water. It was everywhere. And though it did rain during Pvris, it was little more than a sprinkle. This was a good three inches of water we were all standing in - and I have no idea where it came from. 

The roadies were setting up the stage for 30 Seconds To Mars (or, according to one roadie's shirt, Thirty Seconds To Fucking Mars) Drunk Guy was being a jokester, calling them "Ten Seconds to Saturn" and saying he didn't know any of the songs but Jared was great in Dallas Buyer's Club. "Have you seen that? He won an Oscar for that. Did you know he won an Oscar?" He said to a pack of women who were obviously superfans. 

Meanwhile, a girl at the very front of the pit was taking pics of a buff, tatted-out Asian roadie. As she's giggling and snapping away I can see her friend give her this look like she's insane. Despite the fact that I had been sorta-kinda checking out the fine females nearby I whispered to D "Women are just as bad as men." 

After a good amount of people-watching and people-listening I suddenly became aware of what the roadies were holding and unrolling before us. Wires. And lots of 'em. And we were standing less than ten feet away. In water. I guess the barrier was raised enough so that the water and the wires were in no danger of electrocuting all of us. But still.


30 Seconds To Mars burst onto the stage - and boy did the women around me lose their minds. "Up In The Air" was the first song they played, and Jared came out in this shiny white collared coat, with a full hockey-player beard and his blue eyes bugging out. I don't know if it was the lighting or what, but he kinda looked like a cartoon character. D got some great pics and video - not that I asked her to, but I know her sister will appreciate it. 

I had heard that Jared really likes to get the crowd to sing - and he was constantly telling us to jump, get our hands up, etc... after the third time he said "hands up" I thought to myself wouldn't it be funny if we all shouted back "don't shoot!" Alternately I felt a little uncomfortable responding to all of Jared's commands, especially after he got everyone to chant This Is War to start the song of the same name, then proceeded to pose after singing the lyric referring to the messiah in his Jesus robe and beard, with a crowd of women screaming for him. Yeeahh.

Anywho, they played a fairly short set of songs I knew (except for one mellow tribute to Chester Bennington which he played from the far end of the catwalk.) 

As their set was winding down Jared spotted a fan on the opposite side of us holding a sign for him to call her up on stage. He read the sign aloud then jokingly said "No, sorry." And when he smiled to indicate he was kidding she started to walk toward him. But then he said something like "I didn't say yes," before finally saying "Aw fuck it, come on up." 

This was the cue Hot Girl and Drunk Guy had been waiting for. He crouched down and she awkwardly climbed on his back, then sat on his shoulders. By this point there was a guy on stage with Sign Girl, and before we knew it Jared was just picking people left and right - not all of them were girls, either. Some of our pit neighbors were pointing and shouting for Jared's attention to pick Hot Girl, but he never really glanced our way. A hundred people were on stage by the time he was done, none of them were Hot Girl. I shook my head at Drunk Guy


..but he did all he could. Near the end of the set, Jared asked the crowd if we're ready for Muse (or, in his words Muuuusssee!!) And when I shouted Yeeaahh! with both hands raised over my sweat-soaked 30 Seconds To Mars shirt Drunk Guy tapped me "You're here for Muse?" he said. I told him I like both bands, which made me feel odd - though the only people who left after 30STM's set were the young foursome who promised they would do so.

Before Muse took the stage the crowd had shifted and people had wedged themselves in and out until I was separated from D by at least one person. I was rapidly dehydrating and losing what little energy I had left. My knees were aching, my throat was bone dry, and I was still standing in water, which my shoes and socks were absorbing like a sponge. I looked at my wrinkled fingers and asked myself What are the symptoms of dehydration?

The pit was filling up with more people; at one point Hot Girl seemed to indicate to Drunk Guy that more people were coming. I thought they were friends of hers, but he bear-hugged them as they came forward, so maybe they were his crew. They ended up on my right, and I couldn't tell if I was smelling their sweat or my own - but it seemed to be getting hotter as the night went on. This was the sixth time I would see Muse live; I've never seen another band more than twice. And so I resigned myself to the fact that this was not going to be fun.

I was so aware of my sweaty clothes and hair that I no longer wanted to bump into Attainably Hot Girl. I couldn't drink the water around my feet, but if I could crouch down and rub some on my arms and face I might be able to cool off a bit. So I tried it, and naturally splashed her red Chucks enough that she turned to look at me like What are you doing?  

The clock on someone's phone read 9:09, and I assumed that Muse would play about 12 songs. Just hang on 'til 10:30, and then we'll have Gatorade. You can do this!

The first song Muse played was their new single, "Dig Down":

 

The second song they played was, um... I don't remember. I was staring glass-eyed past the action onstage, at a gap in the screen between drummer Dominic Howard and lead singer Matt Bellamy. This was to be my "safety check"; I was legit worried that if I reached total dehydration my vision would start blurring and swirling in a haze, and I needed to focus on something that would not move. 

I spent the next hour frantically trying to gather any saliva I had in my mouth and nonchalantly rubbing it on my dry, cracked lips. I was worried they'd turn pale pink. My knees were giving out from hours of standing on line before the show and my stomach was growling from not eating in eight hours. But I wasn't hungry. I was thirsty. Sooo thirsty.

The next ten songs were a blur. I know they played "Plug In Baby" and "Hysteria" at some point, but the only memory I had of them is the voice in my head counting That's five. That's six. And so on. At one point I realized that D was now at least four people away from me. She looked back and mouthed the words "You okay?" I didn't want to tell her "No" since my father-in-law had said that just before he died, but I needed her to know I was fighting it. So I shrugged my "no" instead. 

Ten songs in, my legs were about to give out. I was dangerously low on saliva and the cinnamon gum I had been chewing to generate some more (and to distract me) was burning a hole in my tongue. Eleven songs, then twelve. I considered it a challenge to get through the night without using the bathroom, but that was nothing. If I could get through the end of Muse's set without having to duck out for a drink I deserved a fucking medal. Or at least a giant bottle of Gatorade.

When Muse played "Time Is Running Out" I could see the finish line - especially when the balloons and streamers popped. Confetti fell from the sky, mixing with droplets of rain that wasn't nearly enough to keep me hydrated - but it helped cool me off a tiny bit. 

But then, instead of ending the show they slowed it down a bit. Oh no. Not the Globalist. That's a ten minute song! And it's not a song they would end their show with. Also, it was their fifteenth fucking song (I think?). I'm not gonna make it.

And I didn't. Muse ended the show with Knights of Cydonia - another epic length track - and I had to squeeze my way out of there. No way was I going to faint and fall to the ground during the grand finale, only to be trampled on as everybody heads for the exits.

When I wormed my way through the crowd to the outer aisle I could barely feel my legs. There was so much pressure on my knees that I expected them to buckle any second but they held up - barely. I held the rail along the water's edge - is that where all the water came from? - and stretched my legs. I still couldn't drink anything, and I was unable to reach D to signal her. But at least I could breathe the cool ocean air.

A security guard noticed me, then an EMT. He shouted through the music "Are you okay?" I told him I was. "Have you had too much to drink?"


Uh... no. 

I couldn't let the medics take me away, since D didn't know I had wandered off at all. When the show mercifully ended and the crowd cleared out I tried to find my way back to where I was. The lights came on, making it easier to see my way through - but that was offset by the fact that the people around me had obviously vacated their spot. Eventually she found me, and I told her I was dehydrating and in desperate need of a drink.

We made it to the concourse, and stood in line at a beer stand that also sold bottled water (for $7.50) Unfortunately they sold the last one right in front of us, and they only had a bottle or two of Diet Pepsi left. I told D to forget it (I'd rather die than make her pay $7.50 for Diet Pepsi) and we got ice cream instead. I sat and savored my vanilla soft serve cup (only $6.00) while D stood in line for t-shirts. There was a bathroom nearby with a water fountain, and when I finished my ice cream (the thickness was soothing but not thirst-quenching) I headed over there. After lapping up some metallic tasting water I stood in the bathroom stall and watched as my once wrinkled fingers returned to their natural state. I was healing. 

Fortunately, D planned ahead and left a cooler bag of bottled water in the car. Unfortunately, she was unable to purchase a t-shirt before the place closed, and couldn't use the bathroom, either. For some reason the concert goers were only given 10-15 minutes to clear out, and the indecisive girls in the t-shirt line ahead of D sucked up every second. 

I chugged my bottle of water before we got back on the road, and took a few deep breaths. Took off my soaked socks and shoes, but left my shirt on. The long, winding parkways of Long Island were difficult to navigate in the dark (there's one called the Southern State Parkway which sounds odd given that New York is a northern state - but I told myself it was named after Taryn Southern. tee hee.) 

obligatory Taryn pic because i am an immature fifteen year old boy

Before we were even certain of where we were, it started to rain. Hard. The kind of rain I was wishing for during the show. The kind of rain that makes it impossible to drive through without splashing the car next to you. Driving on an unfamiliar, unlit highway road in a flash flood was not fun. But once we got past Brooklyn things calmed down a bit. 

D and I discussed the show, and I really didn't want my drama to dampen her night so I focused on the good stuff. The Line Lady in the parking lot, who barked at everyone to get in the proper line and sounded like Melissa McCarthy-as-Sean Spicer shouting at the press. Drunk Guy chatting her up (like a fan, not a flirt) and eventually getting her to break character and smile. The soccer scarf he bought just to get the attention of Chris Wolstenhome, the Muse bassist who hailed from the same hometown as this obscure second-or-third division club (Chris saw the scarf and pointed directly at Drunk Guy.) D informed me that he eventually threw the scarf to Chris, who held it proudly as he left the stage (I missed that while dehydrating, but D has it on video.) 

And then we talked about all the girls who went crazy for Jared Leto, including the young girl who was chosen to stand/sit on stage and cried as he walked by her. Then I mentioned the girl who didn't get up on stage - despite Drunk Guy's best efforts. I told D that I bet he's getting laid tonight anyway. That's when she told me that she overheard Hot Girl talking about the husband and two kids she has at home - and how this was her first concert on her own since seeing Bon Jovi (date/year unknown.)

And yet here she is, taking selfies and exchanging e-mail info with an average-looking dude, just so she can get closer to a much, much better looking dude. Her husband is going to see those pics and say "Who the fuck is this guy?"


I tell ya, women are no better than men. 


Also, I wish I drank alcohol like I drink Mountain Dew and Monster. I would have macked on Attainably Hot Girl so hard.


Just kidding... 


maybe.


~




9 comments:

  1. You wrote this so well that I feel as if I were there. Now I need some water.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. Haha..thank you Janie! The lead singer of Pvris asked us if we were hydrated (and wearing comfortable shoes) and I didnt realize how important it was going to be until about an hour later. Stay hydrated! :)

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  2. God - I love your writing Chris. You really took us there and instead of obsessing on the music you looked at your feet and the people around you and whether or not you could make it to the end. A great read.

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    1. Thanks, YP! I'm trying to get back to my regular blogging, but it seems I can only write short-story posts once a month instead of brief bite-sized posts twice a week. I'm glad you liked this; I've never been good at writing proper event reviews.

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    2. What you wrote is much more interesting than a "proper" event review.

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  3. OMG, I've never had a concert experience like that!:)
    Well told:)

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  4. The only concert I ever went to that was close to what you experienced was Lollapalooza in '96. It was outdoors in NC in July and HOT. Bottled water was ridiculously expensive and at some point we ran out of money and we were very thirsty and dehydrated. But it was worth it...I got to see Metallica, Soundgarden, and Rage Against the Machine!

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    1. Wow, that's quite a lineup! Must have been a hell of a concert. They really do gouge you for water at those things, when we got into the pit a vendor was selling bottled water (which was poured into a cup) for $5. After the show, a bottle was $7.50.

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