I, like a lot of people who love music, used to go out to hear bands play all the time. I’ve been to big concerts in huge arenas to little shows in tiny dives. I’ve heard punk bands in basements and bands that called themselves punk before a major record label offered them a deal in stadiums. I’ve heard music that’s hardcore, folk, independent, country, bluegrass, goth, ska (you do remember ska, don’t you?) electronic, acoustic, rock. You get the idea.
And then, as it always happens when you start procreating, our money and time got funneled into other, more child- and home-centric activities. Porches got built, and babies got diapered. Our wake up call came at 6:30 a.m. no matter if it was a weekend morning or not. David and I would go out for an occasional dinner-and-a-movie date and end up forgoing the movie because it’d mean we’d be up too late. For the first year after each of our girls was born, I was breastfeeding, and really, if there was any way I could avoid using that dreaded, groaning, humiliating contraption called a breast pump–I called it my Boob Juicer–I would. I mean, we’d still go to concerts, or one of us would go see a show with a friend or my brother while the other stayed home with the girls, but as I said, you were more likely to find me curled up in my sweatpants on the sofa at 10 p.m. than hooting and hollering in front of a stage.
We went to see Flogging Molly play Friday night. For those of you who don’t know them (wha?!), here you go:
I know it’s loud. Stop yelling at me. I really like them, okay? I can’t just listen to Amos Lee and my daughters’ Music Together CDs all day, can I? When we walked into the Fillmore, where we’d see my loud Celtic band play that night, I posted something on Facebook or Twitter (social media! So many outlets from which to choose!) that I was too old to be in a place that made me get a hand stamp to enter. My friend Annie told me to bite my tongue. But as the night progressed, the feeling only got a little worse:
7:45 p.m. David, my brother, Paul, and I file in behind my cousin, Mark, who’s 25, and his friends. I fight the odd sensation that I’m their chaperone.
8:00 p.m. I turn down an offer of a beer. I had one at dinner, and am already tired. That, and I don’t want to wake up tomorrow with a headache. You know, after two beers.
8:25 p.m. The first of the two opening bands–The Devil Makes Three–starts. They’re pretty good, but are only a 3-piece group with no drummer, so they sound a little thin. The banjo player has a ZZ Top-length beard and I want to tell him to go get a damn shave, already. I watch the bass player (like, a bass-bass, not a guitar-bass. I know there’s a proper term for it, but all I know is that thing looks heavy), a woman, gyrate all around her part of the stage. She’s wearing a button-front shirt with a tie and a messy ponytail, and I keep thinking she looks like a server at The Olive Garden, and then immediately chide myself on being potentially sexist against my own kind. I take a sip of David’s beer.
8:55 p.m. Waiting for the second opener. My feet start to hurt. At my cousin’s urging, we leave our comfortable spot in the back of the room to squeeze into a pocket on the other side, a little closer to the stage. I am immediately surrounded by very large men wearing beards and newsboy caps. Not that I mind a newsboy cap on the right individual, especially a kind older gentleman. But when they’re on huge dudes blocking my view? That’s a whole ‘nother story.
9:10 p.m. Still waiting. Getting hot. I’d thrown on a sweater with those big three-quarter-length sleeves over a long-sleeved t-shirt before we left the house. Those big beareded dudes exude a lot of sweaty body heat. I go to the bar for water.
9:20 p.m. Still waiting. I yawn.
9:25 p.m. The second opener, Black Joe Lewis and the something-or-other, start to play what will become the longest set ever performed by an opening act. They’re a big band, with horn instruments and maracas, of all things. They sound like they should be playing Motown, which would be cool, but they’re not, which is not. The lead singer asks the girls in the audience to show him their boobs. I go to the bathroom.
9:40 p.m. I check Facebook. A bunch of people I know, all around my age, are at a brew pub by our house to see the Pietasters play (those of you who remember ska remember the Pietasters, I know you do). We old folks seem to be operating en force tonight.
10:30something p.m. After another interminable wait (this is what happens when you don’t drink at a show. Nothing to do in between sets), Flogging Molly enters the stage with a bang. Much better. They are awesome. Just as I realize that Dave King, the lead singer, is 50, and that I’m exactly halfway between his age and that of the ridiculous boys moshing to my right, somebody spills beer on my Chuck Taylors. I note that Bridget, the fiddle player and King’s wife, has gotten a little heavier, and wonder if she had a baby. I realize that my feminism is quickly taking a turn for the worse tonight.
10:45 p.m. There are elbows in my back. They’re not David’s. Where is he, anyway?
10:46 p.m. A guy in front of me open-mouth kisses his girlfriend, who’s wearing tights with skulls on them. I gag. At the kissing, I mean. The skulls were fine.
10:48 p.m. Dave King gives the crowd the finger for the fourth time that evening, then gives a shout-out to all the “good Catholics” out there, “if there are any of you left.” My brother and I look at each other, then cheer.
11:21 p.m. Ears are ringing. I’m loving the songs they’re playing, though, and wish my stupid lower back didn’t hurt so much. Two pregnancies and a rough labor the first time around make me feel sometimes like some giant twisted my lower spine around his finger and squeezed. I crouch down for a moment, hoping it will stretch out, though I know I may look to others like I’m getting sick. I straighten to see David give me a quizzical look, then nod, suddenly understanding, and give my back a quick rub. I sigh and wonder how the girls back home are sleeping, if my mom’s able to rest.
11:45 p.m. I feel like I’ve caught my second wind. I glance at David, who looks bored out of his mind. Punk-y Irish bands aren’t exactly his thing, and he’s already seen them play once. My cousin grins at me and gives me a thumbs up as one of our favorite songs begins.
12:13 p.m. The lead singer gives us the finger one last time, thanking us for a great time, and the band dances off the stage to “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” from Monty Python’s Life of Brian (I’m not including a clip of it on this family-friendly website. You know why. Crud. I just censored myself, y’all. What does this say for my journalistic integrity?). King throws his autographed guitar pick from the stage, and somehow, three-quarters of the way across the room and to the right, it ends up in my hand. The legions of beards around me sniff their disapproval at my excellent foul ball-catching skills. I wonder how much it would go for on eBay, and pocket it before the Goliath beside me can grab it.
12:30 p.m. We catch up with Mark in the lobby of the hotel, which is just three blocks from the Fillmore, which is a very cool name for a music venue, I think. He’s going back out with his friends to a bar up the street. The three of us thirty-somethings stare at him, slack-jawed, sober, and with glazed eyes, in wonder. Ah, to be young again…
7:50 a.m. We get ready to leave, the fact that we’re sleeping in not much later than we usually do all too glaring in the morning sunshine. We have a house showing later that morning, so have to rush home to gather up the children and the dog so people can once again snoop in the corners of our bathtub, check out our shampoo, decide if they want to buy the house that we call home. I call my mother to hear my daughter’s voices over the phone, and think that they sound so different when I’m not in the same room with them.
It’ s not like it’s been ages since I’ve been to a concert, so why am I actually blogging about it? I mean, I just saw one, um…wait a minute…ah…hold on a sec…well, not that long ago. I just felt old and tired that night. Maybe it was because I was out late at dinner with a girlfriend of mine the night before (see. And you thought I never leave the house! I told you!), or because I’ve been cleaning and tidying and mopping every single day since we decided to list our house, or that I was surrounded by a bunch of moshing 22-year-olds (because black eyes and bruised ribs are AWESOME). But I felt crochety, and old and tired. I mean, I’m still glad I saw them, and the non-waiting around parts were fun. And I did truly enjoy my lack of alcohol-induced headache the next morning. So in a lot of ways, a firm footing in adulthood can be quite great.
But you know what? Maybe all my grumpy tiredness had more to do with the 45-minute long breaks between sets, and the fact that I’ve gotten to that stage in life where I don’t need to be within 15 feet of the bar at all times. Because what grumpy old person listens to the Sex Pistols in the car at 10:45 a.m., as I was doing this Sunday morning? Me, that’s who! So take that, old age! Because nothing, absolutely nothing, says “I can still hang” like rocking out to a little “Anarchy in the UK”…even if you do turn the volume down as you turn into your church parking lot. For mass. To which I was late. Because, you know. I’m cool like that.