Suburban Snapshots

I Turned Off PBS and Went to a Weezer
Show Instead

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

I clearly remember standing in small clubs in my twenties, waiting anxiously for the opening acts to wrap up so I could see the band I came for play the songs I was dying to hear. I never felt like the coolest in the room or even close, but I was comfortable in my place outside hipster cliques.

The arc of seeing live music always goes like this: I hear the band is coming and get super excited. On the day tickets go on sale I sit at my computer (pre-internet I'd done my share of camping out on sidewalks, and getting great seats for something is still pretty much my only impetus to camp at all) practically shaking, waiting to click that "Buy" button. The printed tickets get hung on the fridge and as the time before the show stretches out, they become a reminder of this obligation, this hiring of a babysitter, staying up late, spending money on drinks, dealing with crowds, standing for hours, or feeling old and lame when we decide to sell the tickets and bail all together.

There's always that moment of contemplation when I think, man, is this worth it? The couch is so comfortable and not packed full of drunk kids wearing hats in a swampy bar space. But almost every time I've pushed past that urge to give into my homebody tendencies, these nights out have been some of my best.

Last night Steve and I were guests of our good friends at a show nearby. We don't live in a place that gets many national acts and for months we couldn't wait. Then, predictably, after a busy long weekend and months of anticipation, our excitement waned. If it were just Steve and me going we'd likely have opted to stay home flopped over different ends of the sectional watching Antiques Roadshow. Instead, on a Monday night, we pulled ourselves together, hired a sitter, took cash out of the ATM, and followed our friends to the venue. We collected our will-call tickets and VIP passes, through security — girls to the left, guys to the right, please — and headed for the bar.

And just like it always does when I rally and force myself out, the night got good. At a venue on the ocean, the floor so sticky I almost lost my sandals, that familiar feeling was building. Even before the first note, the energy that equalizes a room full of mid- and quarter-lifers — the guys in football jerseys and the guys in wool beanies, and even the guys in button downs — reminded me of all the reasons I push through the crowds and deal with the waits, the peed-on toilet seats and disorganized bar lines. It's one of the few experiences that feels exactly the same at thirty-nine as it did at twenty-one and at fifteen; at Jones Beach and Great Woods and The Middle East, and here, at the Casino Ballroom. It's why when I was at shows in my twenties there were always people in the audience twice my age.

What's changed is that I'm less inclined to crouch and squeeze my way through a general admission crowd to press myself against the stage, though the urge is still there. I still don't care how I look when I'm dancing. There's still a twenty-year-old hoping to be spotted in a stage light, wanting the band to see the appreciation in my enthusiasm, hoping for that second of eye contact.

Last night all four of us let ourselves get caught up in it. We spent too much on too-icy drinks, we stayed up later than we ought to on a weeknight and we kept the babysitter longer than she'd planned. And even as we arrived home to meet the sleeping kids who flopped like laundry over our shoulders, to grown-up houses and jobs in the morning, we'd spent the past two hours in music, grateful to those up-off-the-couch versions of ourselves that know well the good these kinds of nights do for us.

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