Thursday, March 24, 2016

Growing up (but not like the Springsteen song)

I remember when going to a gig was a little freewheeling. Like, if the ticket said doors were open at 7.30pm, you’d show up around 9pm, a little the worse for wear, and continue to get mildly wasted whilst ignoring the support act. We stuck around for the encore, the encore after the encore, and if we were lucky we might sneak backstage for some green room partying. Okay that’s only happened a couple of times in my life, but still, it has happened. Afterwards there might some unsuccessful attempts to secure a cab, or a run for the last tube – none of which transportation had been particularly well considered beforehand. Unless it was at the Kentish Town Forum, or Camden Jazz Café, in which case it’d be a chatty walk home past a kebab shop or dodgy after hours bar. Did we eat before the gig? Maybe. Maybe we shared a bag of chips on the way home. Maybe we didn’t eat dinner at all. We were young, and carefree, and like I said, a little freewheeling.

Well, I don’t know if it’s age, or parenthood, or just life in the South Bay but all of that has changed. We had tickets to see Bruce Springsteen. The ticket said doors opened at 7.30, so what time do you think we got there? That’s right, round about 6.30pm. We wanted to be sure we had time to eat before the show, you see.

For what it’s worth, we weren’t the only ones thinking that way. The venue was already half full when we arrived, and we had to circle fully 4 stories of the carpark before finding a spot. When we did we saw a group of aged (oh, wait, they actually might be our age) Boss fans tailgating. For British readers, tailgating is when you eat junk food from the boot of your car before or after an event. I know. Anyway, that was happening.

We weren't invited to any tailgates. So we decided to hit up the food trucks instead. There was a choice of tacos, fried chicken, curry and gelato. Because nothing says rock’n’roll like some artisanal frozen dessert.

The Boss knows his fan base. These are people who show up early to tailgate and eat gelato. So he showed up on stage at 8pm and just got on with it. He played all of The River, and then proceeded to rock out like a much younger man for many hours. For many, many hours. Possibly an hour too many for people with a babysitter to pay and a toddler alarm going off at 6.45am. And we were among the young ones there. Some people looked like they might be of an age to have a cup of Horlicks and be in bed by 9pm, to be honest.
These are my people now
Something else has changed too. Instead of cigarette lighters, people now use the torch on their smartphones to create that ‘many tiny candles illuminating an acoustic ballad’ vibe. Who knew? Maybe that's also my age, and at the gigs that carefree 20 somethings go to they all still whip their lighters out.
The beauty of thousands of iPhones swaying in sync

The Boss put on an incredible performance. We had a great time. But we didn’t get to bed till 1am… and not because we went to the after-party or missed the last train home, but because – this being LA – the traffic (as fifteen thousand people left the LA Memorial Arena in their large cars) was murder. Times have changed for me indeed. And with the exception of the traffic, I’d say my gig experiences are the better for it.

1 comment:

  1. Visited there last weekend with a group of friends, and had all the fun we could handle. I really like the ambiance at Chicago venues. There's a decent draft beer selection at a reasonable price and the bartenders are good at what they do.