Thursday, January 30, 2014


About six months ago I bought tickets to a Tuesday night concert (Neutral Milk Hotel) that started at 10pm. Six months ago it was sunny and warm and most things seemed possible, nay desirable. I desired to trek into Manhattan on a weeknight and stand for hours, likely with the tallest man in the room right in front of me, periodically being shoved aside so a tipsy 20 something girl can squeeze her tiny hips into the crowd. I wanted to do it because I love the band and they reunited for a tour, the first one since the 90s when they were still a thing. So I paid a shitload of money back in the halcyon days of summer, before my new found frugality, before the term polar vortex entered my lexicon and during what was probably a twelve hour span of time when I forgot that I am 37 (that sometimes happens to me.)

Anyway, I refuse to complain because, ultimately, it was a great show. All of the following bullet points could never negate that it has been added to my pantheon of live rock shows that are worth the price, the time, the sledgehammer to my lower back feeling because of standing/rocking out (which I got even when I was 19), the fatigue and the minor annoyances. Still, I think I want to share some random thoughts from last night because why not?

  • This one has been expressed ad infinitum but it was really fucking cold in NYC last night. I was wearing three layers and a hat and nothing could stop the cold from stabbing inside me like a jagged icicle. I drove in from the island but had to get the subway to Manhattan and the walk from where I parked was a tundra of winter darkness. It did help when I passed other, amorphous and frozen blobs, buried under their wool coats and scarf masks,getting to where they were going via many layered legs and feet. To know that I was not stranded in Antarctica but still in NYC and that yes, everyone was feeling it too, didn't make me warm but it didn't add to the cold which is all one can really ask of winter. The tickets for the show were sold out but I suppose the way things run at stupid Webster Hall (I have had a personal vendetta against Webster Hall since I was 17 1/2 years old...more on that later) necessitate a slowed down entry so all ticket holders had to wait on a long ass line outside on the glacier of Manhattan for about 15 minutes. Or 4 hours, same thing.
  • Because I'm totally bridge and tunnel and marooned 50 miles away from my heart, I experience a combination of quick emotions whenever I first get on the subway and that combination is not too much unlike when I'm in the vicinity of someone I'm attracted to, but don't know very well. I'm surprised by how familiar it feels yet there is always something slightly different that reminds me that I don't know it very well anymore. (Last night it was the "M" train that now runs in Astoria. What? M train? I'm sorry but I don't understand that.) I get annoyed and impatient at an alarming rate when nothing happens, a train hasn't arrived and I look forward to sitting and having silent conversations with fellow commuters with our eyes. I become infatuated with the notion of being sandwiched among total strangers who could live in the same building but never run into each again after this train ride and disgusted by the possibility of someone breathing on my neck or rubbing their sweaty back along the hand rests. So, to recap, I get nervous, elated, fascinated, annoyed with, impatient for and disgusted by NYC. Basically, I have a crush on NYC.
  • I was meeting my sister at her office and she happens to work on 53rd and Lex. Her subway stop entrance is a sunken plaza and when you are exiting the stairs from the subway, you gradually move up levels until you are on a street surrounded by skyscrapers. Every single time I meet her there I feel there should be an inspirational song playing that makes reference to a young woman making her dreams come true in the big city. And it cracks me up. My friend Nancy only yesterday made reference to the Laverne and Shirley theme song and that was what popped into my head last night.

 I need to re-watch this show. 

  • For dinner we went here, a place I haven't been to since it opened a few years ago. The seating is still for the birds but the macaroni and cheese? Dear God, it might serve as a hint that you maybe really do exist.
  • Webster Hall and I are only even on speaking terms because awesome bands play there and I have a love/hate relationship with the venue. When I was 17 1/2, the night after my senior prom, which I did not attend, I had tickets to see Nine Inch Nails, my favorite band at the time. I was with a group of friends and friends of friends and we were young and it was the 90s and Trent Reznor. Anyway, the show was 18 and over. I repeat, I was 17 1/2. The bouncer was a drag queen in a white dress who looked at my ID and said "So sorry, honey." And then s/he DID NOT LET ME IN. The entire group I was with did not go in either but I am pretty sure I wasn't the only underage one. We all ended up walking through Washington Square Park and buying acid which I did not take. I have a feeling I would have hallucinated something angry and stabbed someone. It turns out I didn't need to drop acid to get flashbacks of that night; it happens every time I've been to Webster Hall in the ensuing 20 years, which has been probably five or six times. The urge to stab has disappeared but I usually kick a wall lightly with my foot, for good measure.
  • Neutral Milk Hotel is still awesome. Before they took the stage, an announcement came on that said the band requested that no one take recordings or photographs. Later, during the show, Jeff Mangum asked again and said it was because he wanted everyone in the room to be present, right now. I really just appreciated the hell out of that and you know what? Everyone complied and everyone went to a concert and actually watched the concert without the filter of a camera. It was like 1994 up in that piece! Probably exactly like it was during that NIN show that I didn't get to attend.

  • Last winter, my sister and I saw Jeff Mangum play a solo show and one of his band mates from NMH opened. Both gentlemen were wearing the exact same things at this show that they wore 8 months ago. Their status as indie rock musicians affords them some leeway but I sent out a wish that they had laundry access.
  • There were, of course, some annoyances in the audience. One man who was probably 60 and looked exactly like a completely grey haired John Travolta, was so drunk that he kept touching everyone, including my sister. He reeked of vodka and I overheard another audience member, after being leaned on by Drunk John Travolta (DJT) say to him calmly, "You need to take yourself home, dude." DJT did not listen but instead had to be escorted out by a bouncer. I was very confused by his attendance, but mostly because he really had to be at least 60. I'm not saying 60 is old but why are you at Webster Hall on a Tuesday night, half in the bag? It makes no sense!
  • The show ended around 11:30 and we took a cab back to my sister's apartment. I was convinced we would perish in that cab but that's only because he was driving like a fucking maniac, even for a cab driver. He was speeding up as he rounded corners. I didn't realize that every muscle in my body was tensed up until I got out of the cab and patted myself, making sure I hadn't crossed over into the afterlife. Breaking news: NYC taxi drivers are insane.
  • I decided to drive home that same night to avoid having to wake up early and drive in rush hour traffic. I decided that I could learn to love night driving but only if the rest of the world of drivers and cars disappeared for the exact amount of time it would take me to get home. Then all the drivers of every kind of car, be it SUV, obnoxious black Sierra pick ups or NYC taxi could take to the road to crash into each other. Do you think we could make this happen?
And that's about all for today folks. The next planned concert I have in my schedule is not until August and that will be in Brooklyn to see Arcade Fire so I am guaranteed to have an incredible time. Never during my 20s, when I was living in NYC and going to three and four concerts a week, getting hammered and stumbling home at 2am only to get to work by 9am the next day did I ever think I'd have gap of SEVEN MONTHS between live shows. I participated in at least three consecutive "Rocktobers" where we went to 15 shows in a month. Ah well. At least I have my ticket stubs to hold on to. And this picture.


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