Last night I went to the first rock concert that I have been to since I lived in Seattle. That is a very long time. However, the last concert that I went to in Seattle was so annoying that I swore that I would never do it again. It had nothing to do with the music. Well, that isn’t entirely true. I should say, it had nothing to do with the main act that we went to go see, Band of Horses. The opening two bands were terrible and played for far too long, which meant that Band of Horses didn’t go on the stage until close to 11:30 pm. It was a Monday night, I had to be in court the next day, and the whole experience left much to be desired. As I stood for what seemed like days and looking at the kids around me trying to one-up each other with their relative hipness, I thought to myself, I am just too old for this. I am done.
So with that as my last experience, it took me a lot to get to a concert again. This time, I did so only the strictest of stipulations.
1. I will not go to another General Admission concert where there is no place to sit. I don’t like standing the entire time fighting for positioning. I inevitably get stuck behind the tall guy and people with questionable hygiene end up touching me all night long.
2. I will not go to a concert with more than one opening band. That just means the concert becomes way too long and by the time the main act takes the stage, I am falling asleep. It is hard for me to stay up late. I am basically useless after 10:00 pm.
3. I will not go to a concert if I am going to be the oldest person there. This is harder to judge considering that you don’t know the ages of people attending concerts until you are actually there, but you can generally tell by the band. The older the band members, the more likely there will be older people in attendance.
Fortunately, The National concert last night met all of the stipulations. It was worth it. In fact, all of this over-analyzing about the conditions under which I will attend a concert turned out to make the evening even more enjoyable. I purchased tickets for the front row of the mezzanine, so I didn’t even have to worry about a tall person having the seat in front of me and then standing up (which inevitably will happen). The concert itself was pretty tremendous. Matt Berninger with his slender suits, sexy baritone voice, and requisite emotional intensity dazzled with a vocal display that would have given inferior vocalists hoarse, cracked voices for weeks. It is hard to pick my favorite song from last night, but the intensity on display in Mr. November was probably a fair example of the entire evening. Then there was also the experience of Mr. Berninger walking through the audience during the encore of Terrible Love, that was pretty memorable. Probably, though, my favorite moment was when Berninger said, “This is a song about the news,” and then the band played this song:
That pretty much describes the bizarre interaction current events, in that I feel like I can’t afford not to look and not to know. Also, writing songs about the news also helps in causing that more youngsters, who do not care about the current events, feel unwelcome at a concert.
The National was a welcomed relief from my concert fast or famine, depending on your point of view. I realized too, that my newly exercised selectivity with concerts makes the ones that I choose to go to so much more enjoyable now. I have no desire to relive days of hearing too many mediocre bands that just cause me to shrug my shoulders. My standards for my rock shows are the same as my standards for my evenings at the symphony. I only want to attend concerts that are capable of encouraging me to feel a bit more deeply and appreciate music more intently.