Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Are You Ready To Rock?

Here is the story of Jace’s first rock concert experience, at the age of 9, from getting ready to the day after. We went to see Green Day at the Colisseum in Madison in May 2005.

*Amusing note before we get into the concert. The night before, I started singing “Basketcase” while doing the dishes and Jace was taken aback.
“How do you know that song?”
Silly boy. I knew that song before he was born, and it is MY Dookie cd he has in his room.

Getting Ready
I picked up Jace after school and we headed home to get ready for the concert. I wanted more comfortable clothes and Jace planned to spike up his hair. I opted for pigtails in my hair, and my favorite hat, from Finlandia University (navy with white collegiate style letters of the school’s initials, that’s right... FU.)
Jace, with some help from me, the blow dryer, root lifter, hair glue and frosty hair color gel, worked his hair into a fauxhawk. We dashed for the car, making a stop at the ATM and to fuel up before heading to Madison. Halfway there I realized I’d forgotten ear protection for Jace. Shit.
Jace, who had been dubious about why he needed ear protection, was unfazed by this as he played a game on his Gameboy.
As this was his night, the concert tickets having been his birthday present from me, we stopped at the mall to pick up dinner. I opted for Arby’s, Jace chose Quizno’s. Back in the car, I braced myself for having to deal with Madison rush hour traffic on the Beltline. I hate driving normally, but put me in rush hour traffic, and I get tense. The things a mother will do for her child.

Waiting in Line
Negotiating the traffic wasn’t as bad as I had anticipated. I stayed in the right lane and was ready to take the exit. Had a bit of a wait at the stoplight, a lot of cars ahead of us were making the left turn toward the Coliseum.
I paid the $4.50 parking fee and followed the parking lot attendants past where the line had formed to find a spot under a number I would remember, 22. Jace and I got out of the car. I let him hold onto the Gameboy, figuring it would keep him occupied while we waited in line.
I love people watching, and had a lot to take in. People punked out with makeup, jewelry, hairstyles and colors. Fun. My hat got a few glances.
The line moved slowly but steadily after the doors opened. When we were about halfway to the front, a security guard came up, shouting that other lines had formed and were moving faster. Jace and I joined the mad dash across the parking lot to a new line.
I tucked Jace’s Gameboy into the small purse I had with me for cash and car keys. More of a drawstring bag that I could secure to a belt loop on my jeans if I needed to. The security guard didn’t bother to pat Jace down, and looked like he was about to wave me through, but he was cute so I raised my arms for a pat down.
Sad, really, how I seek out those cheap thrills.

Better than expected
Once inside, I directed Jace up the stairs. Most fans were headed down be on the floor. Jace was too young for the mosh pit experience, so I wanted to find seats. I figured we’d end up high in the nose bleed section, but on a whim, I kept going in the direction I expected the stage to be set up until we came to the beer garden and could go no further. We passed through the curtains and found seats.
Incredible seats. Stage right, about 11 rows up, with a clear view of the front of the stage. We settled in and I gave Jace back his Gameboy since we had over a half hour to wait until the opening act came on. I people watched some more, especially the kids sitting on the floor waiting.
Jace got a kick out of watching the wave of people rush the stage.

My Chemical Romance was the opening act. They sucked. To call it music would be too charitable. It was an obnoxious, obscenity filled noise and it was loud.
If you’ve ever heard the sound that a helpless animal makes when a bird of prey swoops in and carries it off, well, this was worse. Primal screaming with a torturous bass throb.
Jace did okay for the first few songs, used the backlit screen of his Gameboy up during the “ballad” when everyone else held up lighters and cell phones. He cheered when the lead singer asked who was at their first concert. Then he recoiled in horror when the singer suggested turning to the cool parent or older brother or sister who brought you and “kiss ‘em right on the mouth.”
The act got louder, and Jace had a mini meltdown. He couldn’t take the noise and was upset.
“F@ck!” I thought, “Maybe he is too young for the rock concert experience.”
As Jace told me later in the car, he screamed and couldn’t even hear himself. Poor kid. (What’s funny is that I now enjoy a lot of My Chemical Romance’s songs.)
My only concert experience while growing up was seeing the Kingsmen perform “Louie, Louie” in the parking lot behind a bowling alley in Davenport, Iowa.
I had Jace sit down, cover his ears, and gave him the Gameboy again. While he played, I used my hand to help cover his ears.
Fortunately, it was the last song. I turned to the nice girl next to me and asked if she would watch our seats. She agreed, so I took Jace out of the arena to get some air and light.
When we were at a horse show in April, I’d spotted a family restroom. Now, I couldn’t find it. I asked a janitor where it was, and he knew there was one, but not where. He asked in an office and was told it wasn’t available.
Double F@ck.
Jace needed to go, so I sent him into the men’s room, then waited anxiously for him to emerge. If he wasn’t out soon, I would be going in after him.
He always takes a damn long time, and he finally came out just when I was about to storm the room.
I bought a large Cherry Coke for us to share (Why can’t they give you lids and straws at these events?) and we walked back past were concert t-shirts were being sold. The cheapest shirt was $25, and Jace and I agreed that ordering on-line would be better.

Pink bunney
We found our seats, thanking the girl who guarded them for us. The stage was still being set up for Green Day. I asked Jace if he’d like me to give him some tissue to use as ear plugs. He eagerly accepted and stuffed his ears.
While we waited for Green Day, a Pink Bunney, holding a beer and a floppy stuffed toy pink rabbit, walked on stage. Jace and I were entertained by its antics, chugging two beers, taking exaggerated hops and shaking its tail and feebly doing the arm motions to “YMCA.” He wandered back off stage, and the lights soon dimmed. The crowd went wild, and then Green Day was on stage.

Calling out to Idiot America
The band opened with the title track of the new album. I was in awe of how great our seats were. For once, I didn’t need a jumbo screen to see the performers’ faces. They were so close. I could see Billie Joe and Mike clearly, but the view of drummer Tre Cool was blocked a bit by the stand supporting speakers.
After “American Idiot,” the band played “Jesus of Suburbia,” ending it with a blast of pyrotechnics that sent a heat wave toward us.
Incredible. Just amazing.
Jace was thrashing, throwing up his fists and jumping around to the music. Some of the sound effects from the pyrotechnics threw him, but he was having a great time.
Billie Joe is so phenomenal on stage. He takes in all the energy and adrenaline of the crowd, attracting it like a lightning rod. Then he amps it up and feeds it right back to us. He was all over the stage, thrashing, marching, leaping. His face is so expressive. He has the imp of the perverse in him, very Puck-like.

Billie Joe owned us. He had the audience in the palm of his hand, was massaging his balls (figuratively, not literally) and we all wanted more. If he was the Pied Piper, we would have followed him anywhere. As it was, he directed us in the Wave, and had us singing along and cheering at his command. He fired water guns at the audience, and brought one lucky bastard up on stage to help him squirt the crowd. At one point, he screamed out “Somebody please fuck me!” I think most females, and perhaps some of the males, would have been more than willing to take him up on that.
Billie also flashed his ass crack, inciting a frenzy of mostly female screams.
I glanced at Jace, but he didn’t seemed fazed by it.
Billie Joe sported a crown during “King for a Day” and the lights dimmed then the band segued into a cover of “Shout.”
Billie Joe recruited three audience members to play along on stage. He selected one kid from the back who had been holding up a sign, and told him to dive into the pit and crowd surf his way to the stage. The kid did, naturally, and his award was getting to keep the guitar he played.
Green Day played so many great songs, including “Longview,” “Basketcase,” “Minority,” “Holiday” and “Maria.”
When they played “When September Ends,” the lighters, cell phones, and Jace’s Gameboy were lit up again.
Jace sat down a time or two to give his legs a rest. I couldn’t feel my feet anymore, and was hot and sweaty, but was having too much fun to care.
The band left the stage, but didn’t keep us waiting for long, perhaps a few minutes while the crowd chanted “GREEEN......DAY.....GREEEEEEEN.....DAY”

On our way home
Green Day came back on stage and played one song before starting up “Boulevard of Broken Dreams.” I told Jace that when the song was over, we were going to head for the exit. We sang along and waved our arms. Green Day started playing “We are the Champions” as we left. We ran into a student from one of the high schools I cover for the newspaper in the lobby. He looked surprised to see me there.

Jace and I paused in the lobby to listen for a few minutes, before skedaddling out into the blessedly cool night air. Then Jace, in a burst of fresh energy, led me in a race across the parking lot to our car. We had no wait to get out of the parking lot, and were back on the highway to head home in just a few minutes.
I suspected we might be missing a song or two, but this was a school night, and it was just shy of 10 p.m. Not having to be stuck in traffic waiting to leave was worth missing a song or two. Turns out what we missed was a sing-along to “Good Riddance.”
Oh well. Next time I'd stick it out to the end. But not with a 9 year old in tow.
Jace and talked about the concert most of the way home. He now understands why ear protection at a concert is a good thing. Not only does he want to see Green Day again someday, but he was dreaming of learning guitar so he could cover Green Day songs someday. He also asked if he could crowd surf next time.
I’ve created a monster.
There was a lameass fan next to Jace, a teen with overly long black hair who just stood there sullenly. No clapping, cheering or dancing. Jace asked “Why did he waste money on a ticket if he was just going to be so lame?”
Excellent question. I’ve asked similar ones myself when I see people too drunk or stoned at a concert to ever remember being there.
I’ve been to five Dave Matthew Band concerts, and am going to one again in July. But those concerts are more mellow than Green Day was (I’m sure pot smoke has NOTHING to do with it.)

Speaking of smoke, the Coliseum was blessedly smoke free for most of the concert, other than some from the pyrotechnics. Then, about two songs before the end, an ugly toad of a woman two rows ahead of us lit up. Yuck. She had hair dyed badly to an orangish color and was wearing a spaghetti strap tank that made her look like an overly stuffed sausage.

We arrived home at 10:45, after a quick run through the McDonald’s drive thru for a late night snack. All that jumping and dancing around left us famished.
I had Jace take a bath to help him settle done and hopefully ease any leg soreness he might have. I read for a bit before a wave of exhaustion rushed over me. I managed to get my teeth brushed and face washed before I crashed.
I woke up with Green Day music in my head (and was humming it under my breath for most of the day.)
Jace, with wild hair, was a bit hard to get moving, so he was about 3 minutes tardy at school. I popped into the Beaver Dam office to download a few pictures, before leaving for the Randolph office. I hit the Super Walmart and picked up the new DMB cd on my way, plus Green Day’s International Superhits for Jace.
He’s got it in his bedroom stereo while Dookie, Nimrod and American Idiot are in rotation in the Intrigue’s 12-disc changer. We ordered Green Day t-shirts last night. One for him (it’ll be a bit big, as the small size was sold out and we had to go with medium.) I got one too, I may not wear it often, but I figure I can pass it down to Jace when his gets too small/worn out.
Overall, it was a great experience.
Before the concert, Jace didn’t get why I like my live DMB cds even more than the studio releases. Now he understands. The Green Day concert experience was just amazing. If you get the chance, GO.