"I hope so!" was his reply, an unexpected response that made me contemplate our self-perceived level of hipness. I immediately pictured myself screaming at my wife through a cell phone to bring me my blood pressure meds and a new Depends diaper as the audience chanted for an encore.
Our ages are 34 and 35, and we were in line for a band known as The Temper Trap: an Australian group that has recently become slightly popular due to fact that during the last 6 months, their single, "Sweet Disposition" has been featured in just about every chick flick, car commercial and episode of Chuck known to man. I know this because I have seemingly watched every chick flick, car commercial and episode of Chuck known to man.
As we entered the club, it became apparent that we were some of the elderest-est members of the audience. I had been relieved to hear it would be an "over 21 and only" show, but we still out-aged the mean age of the audience by a good 10 years. I briefly considered calculating the median or mode to make myself feel better, but I realized that besides the blond girl that sat in front of me, I have no memories of my time in 7th grade math.
Alas, I was not unprepared to be an older member of the audience. Quite the contrary: I came over-prepared, for I had attended such events before and I knew of the social awkwardness that can accompany being an old man in a young man's world. I have developed my own set of ways - methods really - to be 34-years-old man and swank at a concert.
Now, before I fully divulge my many secrets, I need to un-muddy the waters a bit of what kind of concert I am actually referring to. Of course, just about anyone can be cool at a Paul Simon or Paul McCartney concert. Simply show up in a Hawaiian or pastel button-down and you're in. If you go to a Neil Diamond concert, just being under the age of 50 qualifies you for the hippest person at the party. Those folks lucky enough to attend a Clay Aiken will be considered chic by simply wearing a pink polo shirt. A David Lee Roth fan simply needs to show up shirtless. (True for both men and women.)
Clearly, there are different rules for different venues and performers, but what I am trying to tackle is how to be the OLD GUY at a concert full of YOUNG PEOPLE.
Rule 1: Don't dress like a moron. I'm sure you've all seen that guy: late 30's, "Great White" tee shirt, screaming, "ROCK AND ROLL!" while standing on top of a garbage can. Sir, please keep the Jakal tee shirts from your glory years locked in the top shelf of your trailer and join us in 2010.
Rule 2: Grow some facial scruff. This will give you a bit of an edge. About three days growth gives me a dark, sardonic look and makes me look wise. When the young folk see you with your older, wiser look, they will immediately respect you. They'll think, "There goes a guy that has seen a thing or two in the music industry!"
And what I want to tell them is: Yes, darn straight I have seen a thing or two. In '94 I was severely bruised while attempting to crowd surf at a Soundgarden show. In '93, I was witness to Axl Rose standing on the end of a stage and calling every person in attendance a word so vile that it doesn't even exist anymore.
I want to tell them that at a '97 Stone Temple Pilots show, I felt someone grab my butt, only to turn around to see a 300 pound woman with a smile on her face winking at me. I want to tell them about every bit of nastiness my eyes witnessed at a 2002 Snoop Dogg show.
I want to tell them these things, but I have a feeling they already know - for they can see the hair on my chin and it is a true witness to them that I am the older, wiser music veteran. Someday, if they are lucky, they too will have metaphorical musical hair on their chins - even some of the women, although it won't be metaphorical hair.
Rule 3: Get there late. Once you have reached the ripe old age of 30, the opening band is meaningless. Get there too early and the kids will start asking you if YOU want to see THEIR IDs.
Rule 4: Work the back and sides of the venue and stay away from the front. It is important for we more mature music lovers to look the part. An old guy that is front row, center-stage looks like a moron. Stick to the fringe, where you are out of sight of the young, mocking eyes.
Rule 5: Keep and maintain a low profile through the entire set. Exuberant dancing is fine when you are 21. Bouncing up and down is allowed until 27. But for those of us over 30, proper and correct concert movement is a standard head-bob to the beat. "Keep it simple, keep it low key", that's what pops always said.
Remember, these young people see you as an old and wise (due to the facial hair) music vet. No need to give them a false impression by doing a sudden and uncalled for robot or running man.
During the Temper Trap concert, there was an older man standing in front of me (on the fringe, of course). He made it through the entire show without nothing more than the head bob. During the last song, he freaked out and started shaking uncontrollably. He was trembling his arms and slamming his head. He looked like a 40 year old epileptic wearing a Cinderella tee shirt.
Entertaining? Sure, but I felt bad for the dude as 90 minutes of keeping-it-together went down the drain in 90 seconds... the last 90 seconds. I'm sure the sound of the girls giggling behind us is still singeing his very lame soul.
Appreciative of the advice? Well, you're welcome. -
Now, for those (3?, maybe 5?) that are interested, here is The Temper Trap performing their smash hit "Sweet Disposition". However, given that 90% of my readers are women that have probably seen the gosh-awful movie, 500 Days of Summer, I doubt that it will be new to most of you. Why do chick flicks have to ruin everything good in life?!
***UPDATE: I just saw a commercial for Julia Robert's movie Eat, Pray, Love and this song was on that commercial too. Oh brother!