Sunday, July 1, 2012

outlaws and old folks

Last Tuesday G and I put on our young people disguises and went out to have our eardrums pounded by four bands at The Outlaw Roadshow.  We had been informed by our much younger friend that the Counting Crows were coming to Simpsonville, SC of all places.  I figured this was a typographical error or at the very least, a booking error on the part of a recently fired band manager.  Luckily I was wrong and there really is a large outdoor concert venue in the middle of nowhere. 

G and I have sworn off going to concerts about a hundred times now.  We'll hear that someone we like is touring close and we'll forget our previous bad experience and we'll buy tickets.  The music is almost always great but we'll have to stand near the drunken guy in the cowboy hat who thinks the crowded area in front of the stage is a good place to dance while swinging his splashing beer around over everyone's heads.  Or the birthday princess surrounded by a gaggle of loud talking ladies in waiting who feel that yelling a conversation over the loud music is a great way to spend an evening.  Or that one really sweaty guy at the House of Blues who dripped sweat and body odor on me for an hour.  When you stack those experiences on top of the fact that I hate large groups of normally get G and me driving home, way past our bed time swearing we're too old for concerting and promising each other that we'll never go again.

But this was the Counting Crows.  And it was really close to us.  So we bought tickets.  Since this is the summer of living on the cheap, I should tell you that by waiting to the last minute to finally commit to this event we got our tickets half price.  With that bonus we were sure to have a good time.

And we did have a good time.  It was a surprisingly good concert situation and a really strong performance by the Crows.  The photo above was stolen from one of G's Facebook friends who had really good/expensive seats.  Our view featured a much smaller version of the band.  On the other hand, our view also featured a much smaller group of fans.  We were in the lawn area of the ampitheater and the lawn was not crowded at all.  We sat with our much younger friend and her boyfriend and we had lots of distance around us to protect us from the more annoying concert goers.  The drunks were not obnoxious, the loud people were not too loud and with the extra space we even got to enjoy the sideshows of old people (people my age) attempting to dance.  There was the weeble-wobble lady in front of us, the awkward limbed guy on our right, and the sporatic single dirty dancer to our left.  Very entertaining. 

Since everyone in the lawn area brought blankets or lawn chairs, I didn't have to feel old because I didn't stand for the hours we were there.  In fact, I only felt old once during the night.  That was when we were talking to our younger friends about the times we'd seen the Counting Crows in the past.  I told them that the first time I saw them was during my undergraduate college years in the early 1990s.  They both got this puzzled look on their faces like they didn't know the band had been around that long and one of them said something about not being born at that time.  Ouch.  For the record, I think it was 1994 at some gymnasium in Charlotte and a drunk frat boy spilled his entire beer down my back while trying to dance in his seat.  I'm not bitter. 

So why endure the torment of public interaction, the ill behavior of mannerless concerters and the mocking of the elderly by today's youths?  Because the Crows have produced a huge body of inspiring work and they are still worth going to see.  That guy is Adam Duritz, the lead singer, and talented as he is, he's never tried to hide the fact that he's got himself some issues.  Those issues more often that not become the subjects of his songs and even though he's on stage in the middle of nowhere singing them for the millionth time, he sings those songs like he still feels them and still believes the words in them.  With no guitar to hide behind, he stands up in front of the crowd of strangers and spills what seems to be his heart out on stage. 

And while his problems are not usually my problems, his honesty and genuine approach to sharing his thoughts without a filter provides inspiration for my own ideas.  I can remember having the Crows in heavy rotation while I planned and created my MFA thesis work.  Some of the lines of their songs echoed in my head as I dealt with frustrations and breakthroughs.  When you see this guy sharing his life through his talent you realize that his issues fuel his creativity and his creativity keeps his issues manageable.  He's a productive human because of his craft. 

As a note of perspective for your younger readers, Adam is about 8 years older than me.

And yes, he has more hair.

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