One Old Woman and 200 Young Faces

July 27th, 2010

I have decided that I am officially old. Because of my age? No. My fashion? Nope, not that either. Merely because I can no longer manage to stand for five hours in the same spot to listen to great music without being in severe pain the next day. Well, that and acting as the mom for all the college women being hit on by obnoxious drunk guys. But I digress.

Against Me (and yeah, that guy’s totally playing an accordion)

Last Friday night, I accompanied my 20-year-old niece, Liz, to a summer concert featuring five different bands/artists (for those who care: Crash Kings, Against Me!, Devo, Silversun Pickups and Ben Folds). While I had heard a song or two from each of these, I have to admit, I was there solely for Ben Folds. Although seeing Devo in person was kind-of a cool idea, too.

Devo – first costume of the evening

However, because I was taking Liz, who is way cooler than me and actually knows more than one song by the Crash Kings, we were standing in line before the doors/gates opened at 6 p.m. on an extremely hot Friday night. And because we got such awesome spots for the Crash Kings (about four people back from the stage), we refused to leave for the remainder of the evening. Needless to say, I was a bit stiff.

Devo – minus their masks

Was it worth it? Well, I guess yes and no. The Crash Kings were awesome – I really loved listening to them, and I enjoyed watching them even more (their base player was extremely yummy, and the lead singer was his brother, so he wasn’t bad, either). They definitely had a lot of talent, and whether I knew the songs or not, I was able to enjoy it. I was also still relatively cool at this point.

Devo – Whip It!

Against Me was another decent band, although a little loud for being less than ten feet from the stage. I, unlike everyone else there who was even remotely close to my age, did not think to bring ear plugs in case we were close to the speakers. During this portion of the show, I took some time to take a look around at my fellow concert-goers. And that is probably one of my favorite parts of going to concerts. We had everyone there from drunk frat boy who was convinced that because he was bigger than all the people in front of them, he could move them out of the way; to Devo girl, who wore a backless shirt and blue Devo hat, looked 50 from a distance and 25 up close; to tattoo boy, who’s mohawk merely accented the “Suck it up” tattoo just beneath it; to the blonde elvish grunge boy (I had to look several times to make sure on that one); to the pseudo-goth kids with their heavy makeup and black clothes (although everyone knows true goths don’t go outside in heat like that). Oh, and don’t forget all the baby hipsters, as Liz calls them – all the boys she finds so cute in their comic book-loving geekiness, guys among whom Ben Folds would definitely not be amiss, and a few ladies with some stellar geek chic going on.

Devo – on their third costume change in a one-hour set

There were a number of people there to see Devo, although I had no idea they had more than one song before their most recent release (which isn’t half bad). When they first came out with half-masks on, Liz and I couldn’t help but notice that damn, these guys looked OLD. It turns out, the bottom half of your face ages faster than the rest of it. Who knew? (And by the way, if you visit their website, there is some MAJOR airbrushing going on – just in case you couldn’t tell). So yeah, I think Liz was a tad disturbed by the guy who was older than her dad thrusting his pelvis and simulating masturbation on the stage. Hell, I was a bit disturbed, and I grew up knowing these guys were a little freaky.

My attempt at videotaping with my phone – sorry for the nausea-inducing motion

After Devo played, the crowd got a little wilder, and way more obnoxious. I think it was around this time that the two drunk jackasses who were smoking pot shoved in front of Liz and me. One of them proceeded to keep sticking his face right up next to the face of a woman who was almost two heads shorter than him (and me), and she appeared a bit timid, but also a bit annoyed. I finally decided that I was going to take matters into my own hands (shocking, I know), stuck my hand up in his face and told him to back off. Effective though it was, it earned me quite a few glares, not-so-mumbled “bitch” remarks, and the like. Sorry dude, I forgot to care about twelve years ago. I think I annoyed them so much they finally decided to move, so I’m going to consider my tactics effective.

Devo in boxer shorts – most disturbing of the costume changes

For the fourth band, Silversun Pickups, the crowd was at its most obnoxious. There was crowd surfing, pseudo-moshing, super drunk headbangers, basically everything that I thought was over in the 90s come back to life. Liz and I got a bit separated around this time, as I got more into seeing how long I could hold my spot amongst the jostling than into listening to the band.

Ben Folds – up close and personal

Finally, after standing up for five hours already (four of them in the same spot surrounded by tons of people and getting hotter every second), Ben Folds began performing. I had seen him one other time, and it was less than stellar. Not that he was bad, it was just underwhelming. This time, however, was definitely worth the wait.

A little maraca action here – love the flub towards the beginning
He was funny, sounded great, sang some of my favorites (and many new ones that I’m behind on learning apparently), and showcased several different talents, not the least of which was dealing with oncoming balloons while not losing his place on the piano. I’m always impressed with rock pianists – there is a totally different talent that is required of them than of classical artists, and they are truly amazing to watch for anyone who knows what it takes to play that fast.

Filling in on the drums from an old Ben Folds Five song – pretty damn impressive for a pianist
I have to admit, I was totally thrilled to hear that he is collaborating with Nick Hornby on his next album. In case you weren’t aware, I have a bit of a lit-crush on Nick Hornby. Just a bit. So one of my favorite authors working with one of my favorite musicians? Uh, yeah, I’m excited. He sampled one of their songs – Levi Johnston’s Blues – and it’s every bit as entertaining as I would hope (well worth the listen if you have a minute or two).

After thoroughly enjoying Ben Folds – almost so much I forgot that I couldn’t feel my feet any longer and my back felt like it was going to lay down and never get back up again – Liz and I headed home, both relieved to be sitting at last. Still sore two days later, I finally came to the conclusion that yeah, I’m just too damn old to go to those concerts anymore. Sign me up for the section with chairs next time – I don’t care how far away from the stage it is. My guess is I might actually be amongst my own generation there.