Legs sore… back sore… ears still ringing. A cup of coffee to jump-start the day, but the pain lingers on. A sign of age? Or just a side effect of Rock n’ Roll?
Hollywood’s great divide was on full display last night, and I don’t mean the raised double yellow lines running the length of Hollywood Boulevard… I mean the haves and have-nots… or in this case the VIPs and VInots…
VIP access meant a standing room only space in the pit “pen”… Priority access meant a first come, first serve, standing room only spot in the Hollywood Boulevard “pen.” That’s what they called the areas… the “pens”… and the cattle and farm reference was not lost on me. As much as I love my VIP treatment, I don’t need to be on top of the stage… Well… not EVERY time.
What they failed to mention last night though, was that if you were not in the pit, you would be behind the lights and cameras and a fair ways back from the stage. And when we rushed to get as far forward as we could, we moved in front of the large monitor… basically taking away almost any form of sight. We could not see a thing, other than the seemingly much taller people in front of us.
I am really not saying this to complain… well, okay… maybe a little… I am simply trying to accurately “set the stage” for you. As soon as the masses realized they would not be able to see very much, there was a loud, communal groan…
It was at that point I had a bit of a revelation. Human beings are often put in the exact same positions… and most of the time, they react in the same positive, make it work way. Thus last night we came together as a unified group… made the best of our situation and still Rock n’ Rolled. It also made me realize that if a major sense is pulled away… the sense of sight… a Rock n’ Roll show could still be okay. You could still smell the skunk weed… you could still feel the push and pull of those around you… and man, you could still hear the music. Don’t get me wrong… I love my sight… I love seeing the beauty around be… but even with that temporarily gone… what amazing music it was.
The only real negative of the night was the way too hip, probably full of shit, asshole couple who pushed their way in front of all of us mid way through the show… as if we had not all been standing there for hours. It was a bold, rather surprising and obnoxious move. He had on a grey Fedora, which unfortunately added to his already too tall height… and she had on some pretentious hat with a feather sticking out of it, that literally almost took a few eyes out. We all looked around at each other with a “WTF” look. The two young guys to my right with the miniature hookah pipe started blowing smoke in their faces… I reached my hand over the top of his hat, pretending to pull it off, which got a nice laugh from the crowd. I did not mean to touch it, but when I did he immediately turned around looking to get into something… I stared him down, he turned around and that was that. Eventually they left, which caused us all to applaud… but he made sure to announce that they were going backstage. Either, yeah right… or who the f–k cares… they were gone… and we were back to being happy… mostly.
John Fogerty started things off and sounded great… though we knew that since we got to hear most of the sound check. Then it was Rick Springfield… or as Dave Grohl likes to call him… Rick Fucking Springfield… who all the girls still love. The guy looks good… still has great hair… bastard… and sounded really great, too. It’s easy to forget that he can actually play and rock pretty hard… and wrote a few indelible hit songs in his day. Ving Lee was up next and is probably what caused my ears to ring in pain. I like punk music just fine, but the lightning speed 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3 count off almost did me in.
Finally one of my childhood hero bands took the stage… well… Rick Neilsen from Cheap Trick did anyway. Taylor Hawkins moved from drums to lead vocalist… knocking off all of Dave Grohl’s mic picks in the process… Krist Novoselic from Nirvana came out and joined the already on stage Pat Smear and the place just rocked… especially when Dave came back out, grabbed a black and white checkered guitar and took lead vocals on “Surrender”… the anthem that really summed up the night for me…
He got the audience to chant “We’re All Alright, We’re All Alright”… which taken at face value is a mighty powerful thing. But going just a step deeper we ARE all alright… and the sheer power of a group of people sharing the same experience at the same time, reveling in Rock n’ Roll and coming together in a common goal of joy and bliss should be the very definition of life and living. This is not hedonism, but a communal and powerful way to find happiness. Music is that essential to our lives and guys like the great and powerful Dave Grohl (not Oz) know this.
None of the people in our group could see really, but we came together and found a bond in that… found a joy in that, and still rocked our asses off listening to great music. No one cared about age or religion or where you came from, we were all the same at that point… all human beings who not only loved music, but allowed music to enter our souls and quite literally move us.
I loved looking around and seeing all of us, young, older and in the middle, signing along to songs I grew up with… a sense of immense happiness and bliss on our faces… I was thrilled to listen to a fairly young girl talk about her honest, powerful and undying love for The Beatles… and no, Maca did not show! I loved how we were all in it together… and yes, all alright. So thanks to Julie for taking me… thanks to Dana for being in front of me and thanks to the crowd for truly supporting one another.
If you are ever feeling low or lonely… out of touch or out of place… like the world is beating you down and the bullies are stealing your grace… pull out a record and just listen to the music… or even better, go to a concert. For there you will find people just like you… you will find your soul and your bliss… and you’ll realize, even if just for those few hours, that your pain is gone… your heart is full… and that we… all of us… We are all alright.