Monday, September 20, 2010

Free Bird and Cell Phone Lighters

Lighters swaying in the night, loud music and cheering crowds. Ahh, a rock concert.

Last night was the first concert I have been to in a long time. Rascal Flatts, Kellie Pickler and Chris Young. Suburbanite Bostonians decked out in their faux country best; straw hats and trendy cowboy-style boots (because let's face it, there are certainly no REAL cowboys in Boston).

Singing along to those familiar radio-played tunes, dancing in your seats and people watching like you read about. (No really, you JUST read it...see?)

My previous concert-going experiences have run the gamut of genre's and venues. Bands playing in divey clubs before their major Pop Culture breakouts with my older sister. Large arena style all out spectacles, and smaller concerts at casinos. I've pretty much seen them all.

The first concert I ever went to was with my mother and sister. There may have been some cousin's involved as well, but I was 5 and my memory is a wee bit hazy.

It was the Monkees. That's right, the Monkees. I was in heaven. Thanks (at the time) to the wonders of Nick at Night; I was obsessed with that goofy foursome. Living in their TV apartment and the musical shenanigans they found themselves in. I was a Davey Jones fan (naturally) at the tender age of 5.

Now mind you I realize now that the show was taped far before I was even a twinkle in my parent’s eyes, but at the time, I thought it was JUST happening. And I was so far from the stage I didn't notice the agedness before me of the band. They were not the spry young bunch of fella's I watched on TV, no. They were already then a bunch of middle-aged men trying to hold on to what little fame they may have had left.

They were accompanied by a bunch of musicians I am pretty sure no one in my age bracket has ever even hears of, let alone seen live. Herman's Hermits, the Grassroots and Gary Pucket & the Union Gap.

Oh yes. Classic.

Of course, being from the Boston area, at least once in my life during the late 80's/early 90's I HAD to see the New Kids on the Block.

NKOTB and all their homegrown pride likely never filled an arena like they did in good old Massachusetts.

My best friend’s father had gotten us all tickets (at least that's how my brain remembers it....I never saw an exchange of money or heard any of the parents say anything to the contrary, so we'll go with it) for her birthday party in 5th grade.

Decked out like a true obsessed fan, we each had our favorites. Oversized pins adorned our NKOTB t-shirts, neatly tied up on one side, naturally. Day-Glo hats stenciled with the name of the band and more pins covering it. I believe we even had earrings that said New Kids. We were hardcore.

I remember being in the crowd and being completely amazed. THESE were our teen heartthrobs. The posters we ripped out of Tiger Beat and instantly hung on our walls. The fictional names we doodled in our Trapper Keepers; our names and their last names as if we ever had a chance in real life.

We screamed and fainted for them like my mother had done for the Beatles. We swooned when they walked on stage. We couldn't talk for days afterward. We knew all the dance moves and we did them in our seats.

It was youth obsession in its finest form.

As I entered high school, I remember going to smaller venue's with my older sister. Likely at the hand of my mother, she and I would go to divey clubs for the 16+ shows of the Alternative craze at its peak.

Oasis, Blur. We saw the Cure a boatload of times. Each time I was fascinated by the dedication to these underground (at the time) bands and their fans. These laid back concert goers singing along to the obscure B-sides while people like me at 16 only knew what was played on the radio.

But I was in a bar, in a club as a teenager. Whatever the music, I didn't care, I was awesome.

Of course in my adult life, I have seen a great many more. Gone with friends and experienced my first attempt at concert tailgating. A whole spread of food and booze lined up in the back of an SUV while we sat in our chairs, semi-circled and waiting for the show to begin.

And it's been every kind of music you can think of since. Bon Jovi in a large arena, Poison and Ratt in their attempts at a comeback. Sammy Hagar holding on to his Van Halen heydays and rocking a casino. Nickelback, Staind, Daughtry. Motley Crue, setting things on fire and Tommy Lee flying through the air on an airlifted drum set. Guns N Roses, Papa Roach, The Brian Setzer Orchestra and Jewel. Eminem and Ludacris rapping profanities. I even went to Lolapalooza with friends in high school and saw more bands in one place than I ever thought possible. And now Rascal Flatts kicking it new-age country. (I told you it had been all types...)

There have been others too, smaller local bands I've befriended over the years. Playing local bars to crowds of their friends and a handful of followers.

There's just something about live music. About being in a crowd of people who are all singing along to the same songs.

Last night was no different, and yet it was. Sitting with friends and laughing, leaning close to someone you love. Dancing, singing, swaying along. Perfectly content with everything around you. Last night was pretty much perfect.

Shouting out "Free Bird" during breaks in the music and jokingly yelling "Down in front!" at the teenagers standing up at inopportune moments. Lighters flickering (or phone apps that LOOK like lighters) during those power ballads.

Yup, there's nothing like a concert, and after last night, exhausted as I am, sitting at my desk, ears ringing slightly, thinking back to arms wrapped around me dancing; I am a happy girl.

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