Concert-going: then and now

“Why don’t I just go pick up D’s burrito and go drop J off at S’s so that you can have some extra time to finish at work and then we can just meet at the house and go.”

This? The culmination of our plot to escape the vacuum of our family life for a night to go to a Radiohead concert. We had to drive an hour to San Jose, and wanted to see the whole concert (with 2 encores!), so it was a small triumph to cobble together childcare for 8 hours and hit the road.

We like to ply our friends with any food of their choosing so that they’ll come to our house and put J to sleep and hang out into the wee hours, eating burritos and ice cream. Thanks to our glorious friend D, who did this last night. And to S who had J over to play with her son for the few hours before D was available.

Oh, it takes a village. Especially when you don’t want to pay $80 (or can’t!) for your babysitting so you can go see a band.

Last night, San Jose was our oyster. We went out for steaming hot bowls of Ramen in Japantown and then snagged a free parking spot a mere 15 blocks away from the concert venue. As we walked to the complex where the concert arena sits, I saw little scenes from a similar evening we’d spent there 7 years ago.

On a moment’s notice, we’d driven 4 hours to Tahoe to get last minute tickets we found at some desperate-U2-fan website. Then drove the 4 hours back to Berkeley, slept for 2, then picked up our friends and drove to San Jose to play Scrabble in line all day in the hopes of a good spot next to the stage. We were handsomely rewarded.
We were so close to the stage that I still think the lead singer of Kings of Leon has the hots for me. We shared an electric eye contact moment.

And the girl next to us was the one hoisted onstage by a thick, bald security guy to dance with Bono during Mysterious Ways.
She collapsed in a sobbing heap into my arms when they lowered her back down again. But not before I could snap this picture that prominently features Bono’s butt sweat:
Last night was somewhat different. I watched those herds of people bouncing near the stage from my plush folding chair up in the almost nosebleeds. The concert was a juicy display of neon colors and visual noise. And Thom Yorke wiggling, all elbows and knees.

I felt a little guilty, sitting up there. I wasn’t exactly sucking the marrow out of the experience like I once had. I was sipping my beer out of a straw (they sold them that way at the venue?!) and dancing in a seated position. It was not a scream-your-lungs-out, Bono-butt-sweat kind of night.

I really miss that intense and deliberate diving into a single experience. But honestly, folks, I don’t have the energy to put into getting to the front row right now. It used to be that the stuff of life was to intentionally plunge myself down deep into a big experience–a concert, a solo backpacking trip, an all night game of drunken canasta, for example. Now, all that depth that I used to seek is just spread out over the wide reach of every day–the challenges of raising a child and making sure we’re all fed and trying to stay connected to myself and my partner. So now, what I seek out is less intensity, not more: reality tv with a beer, going to bed at 9, and thoroughly enjoying a Radiohead show, beer with a straw resting in my lap, and listening to Idioteque through the wad of toilet paper stuffed in my ears.

8 thoughts on “Concert-going: then and now

  1. I love your honesty and acceptance. It’s such a hard thing to gain that acceptance! You explain your thoughts about it very nicely here–easy to hear you and inspiring too. Thanks for sharing!

    1. I have not accepted this yet. :/ I have a 9 month old and I refuse to give up the adventure/crazy side of me, even though I’m definitely a lot calmer now. I have big goals & dreams ahead still… Motherhood makes them seem so much further away though. It is VERY difficult.

      1. Well, there’s stuff that you have to accept and stuff you don’t…and part of it for me is just accepting that I just actually don’t want or have the energy or verve to do things the way I used to. At the same time, I think there are ways of “being a mother” that are all for NOT accepting if it feels like it doesn’t fit with who you are. Motherhood can go together with big dreams and goals like a horse and carriage. I mean, the goals and dreams might adapt a little or be accessed a bit more slowly or from different directions, but if it gets you going, GO FOR IT, Sister!!

  2. We were there too! It’s definitely a different experience going to shows after baby! It’s much harder to enjoy, I find, with my worries about whether grandma managed to get him to sleep or not, etc. But I find, it also teaches me to be more in the moment and enjoy what I can, while I can. We had decent seats, but seats they were. Though many people were standing, we were in a pocket of sitters. I sat there, feeling sterile and disconnected, unable to fully move, my neck getting stiff from twisting slightly to the right toward the stage. I desperately wanted to stand and be able to actually dance, but worried about how the people behind me would react. Then, I suddenly realized – hey, I’m here to see one of my favorite bands that doesn’t come around often, and the times I get to get out are rare too. Why am I not letting myself enjoy this? So I got up. It was awkward, being the only one up. Then after a song a guy behind me started yelling at me to get down. I stood my ground, even though I was dying inside. A song later, my friends joined me, and then a bunch of other people. The show started to come to life, and I began to have fun! I felt a tap on my shoulder, and I turned around, thinking it was the guy who was pissed. Instead, it was a man who thanked me so much for standing, because he could now really enjoy the show! Afterwards, he asked to take a picture of me since I had made the night for him! I would have never done this before Theo. Guess we really do grow as moms. 🙂 And Radiohead rocked!

  3. So true, I feel like my efficiency quotient has gone way up! I got 20 minutes and 8 things to do? Done! Thanks so much for sharing this, by the way, I love the topics you pick. We often have very different viewpoints, love how this makes me think! Keep it up 🙂

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