Friday, March 20, 2009

The Bass, The Rock, The Mic, The Treble

Liv and Lea at the Newport

As I've probably nattered on about before, Lea will be turning thirteen on Monday. This is a special birthday - officially a teen - so when I found out that one of her favorite bands would be in town just a few days prior to her birthday, it seemed pretty clear how we had to celebrate. On a Thursday night, we packed the family up and headed to the Newport Music Hall to see Mindless Self Indulgence.

Tom and I have never shied away from taking the girls to shows, so we didn't really put a lot of thought into this. Special birthday. Band she likes. No brainer.

Our lack of forethought first became evident as we started circling the block on which the Music Hall is located looking for parking. The line of folks waiting to get in was already quite long. And we were pretty sure our little group was gonna anchor both ends of the age spectrum.

Now those of you who know me know that I am not in any way freaked out by what I call "the fringe children" - the kids who rely on a lot of piercings and tattoos and elaborate hair and outfits to try to figure out who they are. I have no issue with them, truth be told, I kind of like them. I like the girls with their pigtails and their striped tights and combat boots and short skirts and mesh shirts. I like the boys with their mohawks and skinny jeans and concert shirts. I like interesting piercings and body mods and brightly colored hair. I like hair with so much product it doesn't even resemble hair anymore. I like all of these things. But when it became the norm and I became the exception - I didn't like that much, at all. It's never fun to feel like a minority. Which is, of course, how the fringe children feel every day, but, in fairness, that is sort of self-imposed.

Anyway, short story long, I started to feel intimidated. Then, of course, I started to feel ashamed of myself. What kind of hypocrite am I? So I was unnerved as we took our place in line. Lea was giddy. She felt, I have to assume, like the little Bee Girl in the Blind Melon video for 'No Rain'. She was among her wonderfully different peeps. While I was trying to hide my intimidation and Lea was trying to hide her girlish glee Tom and Liv seemed pretty impervious to it all. Perhaps they were trying to hide something, too. If we're going to get philosophical, I suppose we all are. Whoa. Choke me in the shallow waters, before I get too deep.

After almost an hour in the line, we made it into the venue. It was very cool and just right for what it was. It was perfect, as a matter of fact, for what it was. What it was NOT was: designed for the comfort of middle-aged people with bad backs and arthritic knees. No seating. A few railings to lean on, that was it. That was as much rest as our old bones were gonna get. Coupled with the fact that we'd overheard in line that there were going to be two warm-up bands, Tom and I (mostly me, I'm sure) started working up a mild state of panic. First thought: my knees are never gonna make it. Second thought involved math. There's not supposed to be math at concerts! If the doors opened at 7 and the first of 2 warm up bands took the stage at 8, (carry the 2), we were very unlikely to get out of there before 12. On a school night. Oh my sweet loving God, what had we done?

We secured a position in the balcony leaning against a railing. The view was excellent and the kids were able to observe the mosh pit without actually getting anywhere near it. It was all good. We took turns leaving our post, once we'd claimed it, so as not to lose it completely. Tom took the girls to buy the requisite T-shirts. We people watched - which was primo - while we waited for the first band.

When they came out, Liv, who was next to me, immediately started rockin' out. About half way through the first song, I pointed out to her that the band consisted of just a drummer, a keyboardist and a singer. Liv gave me a look which clearly conveyed, "Thanks for pointing that out, Captain Obvious". It was noteworthy because Liv is trying to start a band and so far she only has a drummer and a keyboardist on board. She thought she'd need a guitar and a bass before they could even think about making music. This band, Velvet Code, was doin' it. While Tom and I weren't completely turned on by the music, we loved how into it the girls were. And they put on a fun show. I often really like the warm up band. They try hard.

The second band, Hollowboy, didn't impress any of us. I think there was a pretty prevalent feeling going through the crowd. That feeling manifested itself as a chant a little more than halfway through their set: "M-S-I! M-S-I!" I always feel a little bad when there's a second warm-up band. Even when you don't like them much - as I didn't - it's gotta be distressing playing to a crowd who is just chanting for the headliners while you're trying to entertain them. So I clapped politely. I'm pretty sure they appreciated the effort.

Mindless Self Indulgence hit the stage with a frenzy that never let up. I really really dug it and the girls were going nuts. The mosh pit was in full swing. Liv turns to me and says, "They look like a bunch of penguins down there!"

"Penguins?" I shouted, uncertain that I'd heard her right with my old middle-aged ears in the middle of a concert. Penguins didn't make much sense. The crowd was more pink and black than black and white... and no-one was doing that cute little waddle walk. I was thinking maybe a peacock reference might have been more fitting... but I was pretty sure I heard 'penguin'.

"Yes! Penguins! When one penguin moves, they all move! They look like penguins!"

My first thought was that she was sort of making fun of them - sort of like sheep - all following, none leading - allowing themselves to be herded. That was never Liv's way. Good for her, I thought. Then I looked at her face. She was not making fun of these people. She was entranced by them. "Do you want to be a penguin?" I asked, tentatively.

"HECK YEAH!!!" she answered, pogoing and headbanging simultaneously, with stars and hearts in her eyes. Penguins. Lovely.

Well, shit. My eleven year old can't wait to hit the mosh pit.

Someone hold me.

Around halfway through their set, I saw a guy talk to Lea. She was between Tom and I, so I didn't panic or anything. Turns out he had asked if she could squeeze over to make room on the railing for his girlfriend, who was rather shortish and couldn't see. Lea, of course, was in her element and wasn't gonna say no to a fellow fringe child fan, so she squeezed over, effectively squeezing Liv out to make room for a girl in a full-on Alice in Wonderland costume. (Yeah, I don't know. Maybe some sort of drug reference?) I let Liv squeeze through to my space and held on to the bar with one hand for a little while before being completely squeezed out. I had been on my feet for almost 5 hours now and my knees hurt so bad I nearly cried. There is no crying at concerts! No math, and no crying! I was definitely doing it wrong!

Despite that, though, the show was really fun. The energy was high, the band was infinitely entertaining and it was all good. I had to get off of my high horse of political correctness a couple times, but dammit, sometimes it gets uncomfy up there and I need to stretch my legs. No harm. My girls have had that drilled into them enough that they know to never say things that are - incorrect. They also know they're going to hear them. They live in the world. I have faith that I've given them the tools to handle it.

On the way out, both girls were so excited. When I heard "That was better than the My Chemical Romance concert!" I knew for sure we'd done good. I forgot about political incorrectness and my sore knees and reveled in the indisputable fact that we'd made her thirteenth birthday memorable.

On the way out, they noticed a poster with upcoming shows. Dragonforce, April 27. A freaking MONDAY night... but it's Dragonforce, Mom... Crap. Looks like this party has just begun. Do you think I'd lose any cred if I took a little stool to sit on between bands?


Bass Is Life said...

When I was 13, my mom took me to my first real concert: Kiss, in 1977. Lea, not yet 13, has been to 6 concerts: Mindless Self Indulgence, AC/DC, Dixie Chicks, Saving Jane, Avril Levine and My Chemical Romance.

My mom was cool. We are hellacool!

Tammy Howard said...

To us!

smarmygal said...

A) You ARE Hellacool!

B) I am completely thrown by slipping the Dixie hicks in there...

Bass Is Life said...

Our tastes in music are nothing if not diverse.

Juls said...

...stopping by from sits. My oldest turns 13 in September...I'm dreading it...she already thinks she rules the world... becoming a teenager & it can only get worse right?

Swine said...

Wonderful night, T! I want you guys to adopt me. Oh, and Bass Is Life... dude, if you were at the Toledo Sports Arena in 1977 we were at the same KISS concert. I was 11 years old.

Bass Is Life said...

I was at the Spectrum in Philadelphia. Same tour though. Awesome show. I have the KISSology DVD that has an entire concert from that tour, so it's like seeing it all over again.