So last night Jason and I went to see Ween with a herd of folks. It was my first rock show in several years, and, if memory serves, the first since I saw Bowie in Phoenix.
One seriously weird phenomena I suffered in Phoenix was that I would buy tickets to shows and something either health, work or miscellaneous would come up and I couldn't go. I missed shows by Beck, The Pixies, the Walkmen, Willie Nelson and others in the span of the four years I was there. It was sort of incredible.
I started going to shows as early as middle school thanks to folks who appreciated leniency in such matters, and continued going to shows past the first year or so when we were married. But when we hit Phoenix, the sorts of folks we wanted to see tended to go through Tuscon rather than Phoenix, or would skip AZ all togther.
if you ever wonder who the heck are all the people buying Goo Goo Dolls and Blink 182 albums, look no further than Arizona and its love of Clearstream Communications.
Last night was hot and humid. The heat index for the afternoon downtown was around 107.
It was also my first visit to Stubbs as a venue. Somehow prior to my departure, I'd kind of skipped shows at Stubbs, which seems odd now.
I sort of assumed that once the sun went down, things would cool off and perhaps a breeze would kick in.
Ween hit the stage comfortably early for a dude like me who just put in a week's worth fo work and was sort of uncomfortable with the idea of a two hour set starting at 10:30. Fortunately, they came on before 8:30.
By 9:30, I began to seriously ponder the fact that so many people still actually smoke. In some ways, I'm completely shocked. With the constant barrage of ads and scientific info floating around out there, smoking has sort of become something I expect for folks to do if they're my age or older and seriously addicted or just plain ornery. But not having been a part of any nightlife scene in years, I had forgotten the category of person who "smokes when they drink".
And drinking folks were doing. In vast, vast quantities.
It did occur to me that when I would go to shows in my prior life, I would get very close to the front, and stand off to the side so as not to block anyone else's view with my height or width. So I may not have been aware of the other 3/4's of the crowd who was there to get goofy on overpriced beer and talk with their friends, let alone even have elbow room enough to light up a cigarette without causing themself or someone else some bodily injury.
I was anticipating Ween would play until 11:30 (they payed three hours on Thursday at their first show), and so when it was 10:00 and standing on a sloping incline for an hour and a half started to fatigue me a bit, I realized there's really nowhere to sit down at Stubb's. I paid 30 bucks to stand in a dirt lot.
Add in the sorority girls in front of me who had one dance, the "raise the roof" hip-hop dance, in their repertoire, which they employed no matter how fast or slow the song (which also meant I had to stand a few feet back lest their constant string of Marloboro's might catch my face), and I moved to the edge of the crowd.
I had probably 6 years, if not 10, on a lot of the crowd. I am feeling old. The wackiness that was wacky when I was 18, 20, 22 is all old hat now. You sort of hope the kids will bring something new to the table, but instead it felt a bit like time stands still in the yard at Stubbs. There will always be a new crop of college and post-college folks to fill in the gaps when I'm so used to sitting at a computer all day that my legs start to hurt after standing around for two hours. Their lungs are pink and fresh and their stomachs don't turn as the dork in the ironic beard next to them blows smoke in their face.
It's not that Ween didn't put on a good show (although The League has never been a fan of solo'ing outside of jazz shows, and there was more than enough noodling at the Ween show). It was the realization that I left Austin at one age and came back at another, and I'm old and beat up now. I'm not cut out for standing in suffocating heat in a cloud of smoke anymore. I can't ignore the shooting pains in my legs from standing on a hill in one position for a few hours.
Is The League too old to rock?
Well, we've got ACL Fest passes for three days in the grueling Texas sun to figure that one out.