You see a lot of unusual behavior at rock concerts.
I saw Ty Segall at Webster Hall last night. It was nuts. I don’t go to as many shows as I used to, so each one I go to feels like a classic show because I’m re-experiencing all the normal symptoms going to a show.
The skinny goth-couture man pushing by everyone’s shoulders to get the front, holding two whiskey sodas. I would later see him leaving the front, holding his backpack above his head, during one of the rowdiest songs. Later I felt his hand around my neck amidst the chaos, trying to stable himself. He was laughing as he grabbed the necks of people around him. We shoved him hard.
The kid in front of me texting all of his friends that Mac DeMarco was on the balcony above him. He would phrase it differently for each person. “Mac is right above me!” “I’m seeing Ty at Webster Hall and guess who..” He took a zoomed in picture on his phone and refreshed until he saw it had sent. He wasn’t the only one. A group of older dudes would shout ‘We love you Mac!” and laugh, during the breaks in between the opener’s songs. Someone a few rows aheads of me simply raised their arm above the crowd and opened and closed their fist rapidly until I assume they were acknowledged, responding with a thumbs up and then moments later taking a photo on a disposable camera. That’s that person’s life now. People treat him like a novelty, not a person.
The group of people talking about Ty next to me, and getting facts wrong. I felt that familiar urge to correct them; I’ve felt it since I was very young (Blink 182, Shoreline Ampitheatre. “I want to hear that song Josie!” Josie..youre my..” That song is actually called Online Songs. Josie is an earlier song, before Travis was in the band). They talked about Ty wearing makeup and dressing up for these shows, and sounded disappointed. They made a joke about Ty wearing drag. I thought about how young men who listen to good music think of themselves as more evolved, but then make fun of artists for wearing glitter. I begin to understand why cool girls didn’t love us like we thought they would when we were 19.
Even I’m super weird at rock concerts. The first song started, and I immediately shoved past the first three layers of people in front of me to get to the pit - the exact same way skinny goth-couture had, and getting the exact same glares. I didn’t care. I spent the whole show getting shoved back and forth and yelling the lyrics back towards the stage. We collectively lost our shit over and over again. I embraced total strangers as we locked eyes and yelled lyrics at each other. I swallowed hair and gagged. I realized that this was my version of worship. I was feeding something primal inside myself; loud piercing music, and getting shoved, and screaming words, and losing balance. I watched kids climb on-stage to stage dive and just stand there for a moment, and roll their eyes back and lift their hands into the air. They could feel the bass, they could hear the amplifiers shredding their ear drum. They didn’t want to jump yet. I heard a kid behind me scream “He is a GOD!” This was religious. We were all doing the same thing. At one point I was just holding my hand over my heart and smiling so big. I felt embarrassed, this was making me so happy.
I saw a guy jump at least 15 feet off the stage into the crowd. The entire balcony woo’ed. I thought it was cool until I saw the older guy on the ground who very clearly suffered a concussion from the impact. He walked off woozy, and assured everyone he was ok. No way. I saw kids form circles around those fallen until they got up safely, I saw a girl get her ass slapped as she left the front barricade via the stage. Pride and disgust.
I have never seen a better rock and roll show. The Ty Segall Band plays rock and roll music better than I have ever seen it played.
As I was leaving, I bought a shirt on the way out and a guy behind me was doing a bit outloud for everyone to hear about how dumb it was for kids to buy a black t-shirt with Ty Segall’s name on it. The amount of records and shirts being bought was absurd. People were shoving to get their spot in line as if jostling to get closer to the stage. I remember that this is a business in some ways, and I think about how the merch people see this every night. They see the hungry followers of rock music consuming every night. I still buy the shirt. Fuck that guy, and thanks to the sweet merch people for putting up with us.
As I walk out the bouncers, who clearly did not give a shit about whatever this is (one guy asked me if I was here to see “Ty Seagull” on the way in), are trying to corral the 20 year olds smoking away from the front of the venue. A woman and her date walk past me on the street, and after I pass the woman shouts “UGH!” in disgust. I look at my reflection in a store window and my shirt has been pulled on so much it hangs twice as long as it did, and it is drenched in sweat.
I think about how this is one night for me, and the Ty Segall Band’s life. They will see the same rock and roll spectacle tomorrow, and the next night, and the next. I will take the subway, walk home, and experience an endorphin deficiency in my bedroom. That show is so good it has a refractory period. What must it be like to do that for a living? How do you handle being the idol of those people every day? How do you handle the kickback from critics, who I assume are related to that guy talking shit about black t-shirts?
What’s my life going to be like, and will I ever get to experience things like this again? Am I going to miss out?
There’s not a lot to be done for it, but to feel thankful that this still exists. Rock and roll still exists, crazy shows still happen, people still worship art with their entire bodies. I might end up having a totally normal life, and never living my dreams, but I can still buy a ticket and go do that every few months.
Any blog is a porn blog if you jerk off to web comics about gender or crochet patterns with the word fuck.
No, I do not. I have absolutely no talent in this realm and no inclination to try it.