The Concertgoing Experience After 30

When you’re thirty, the wiggle room for live shows narrows — even if you’ve devoted enough to hit the gym and keep a svelte figure. If you’re like me, sometimes when attending a show, you end up discovering that you’re the oldest guy on the floor. Case in point: When Tom and I went to go catch Less Than Jake a few years ago, the age disparity was so great that we felt that we needed to join the AARP. I won’t mention our humiliating efforts in the mosh pit, the subsequent huffing and puffing and unexpected aches, and the “We’re too old!”/”We’re outta shape!” sentiments which followed. Mabuse’s Special Squeeze (hereinafter “MSS”) reports that she once joined a mosh pit and the pit of young ‘uns actually moved three feet away from her!

Never has the silent pressure to get a Botox injection at the ripe young age of thirty been so rigidly enforced then at a live show. The stares of youth are perversely fascinating. They seem to think that we old ‘uns are somehow encroaching upon their turf. When in fact, it’s likelier that we old ‘uns have been following the career trajectory of a band since these young whipper-snappers were in diapers.

Despite all this, I haven’t completely given up live music. At least not yet. Because beyond the bands in question, concerts offer fantastic venues for people watching. You get your 35/17s (a bald man of 35 trying desperately to pad out his manhood by going out with someone who is not yet of drinking age, probably because he can’t find a woman within his age bracket to go see the show with and standing in the will-call line alone to collect two tickets is too humiliating). You have the couples who are often perplexed: the late twentysomething who has brought along a heavy coat and a bag, while her date is both too clueless or cocky to point her to the coat check or make her feel comfortable. And it amazes me to see what a 19 year old kid whips up from the images he conjures from the 1980s. And believe me, they’re the wrong images altogether. Last night, while catching Dogs Die In Hot Cars, the MSS and I were amazed to see that neon socks and big hair had made such a comeback. These kids were probably spermatoza when this nonsense came around the first time.

Then there are the iconoclasts: people who watch these shows alone and prefer nothing in the way of human involvement. Say hello or buy them a drink and they’ll give you a scowl. In my experience, the more mellow the band, the more extreme the iconoclast’s reaction.

But the folks I really dig are the fiftysomethings who rock out with the music regardless of the chronological chasm. I once saw a couple in their sixties dancing to Super Diamond on the second floor of the Great American Music Hall and it seemed to me a fantastic way to spend one’s autumn years.

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  1. Oh, Ed, you’re so young! Wait until you’re, uh, older and staring at the crazy fashions the young ones wear. Oh wait, you encountered neon socks. Nevermind. I totally love the fifty-something ex-punks. And the fifty-something “record every show ever with on-person devices” dude who I see at ever Knitting Factory show. He makes me want to talk at top volume.

    Luckily, my top volume is pretty low.

  2. Regarding the return of the 80’s, I noticed this myself last year at a Shins show at the Wiltern last year in LA. I live on the East coast, though, and I’m still waiting with silent dread for this latest revival to diffuse my way, as these things inevitably do. Oh, and the scowling iconoclasts…priceless. Sorry dude, but I gotta steal that…

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