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Old Folks at the Summer Music Fest

In keeping with my habit of being late, I thought I’d just now post about a concert we went to this summer.  When I saw that Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros would be coming to Houston for the Free Press Fest, I bought a couple of tickets instantly.  I didn’t really think anything of the whole all day music fest.

Life had been so crazy right up to that moment that I forgot to pack our wristbands with a bags for the weekend.  This left us feeling like we should get there early to see if we’d have trouble getting in.  Plus the location changed due to thunderstorms, so we weren’t sure what to expect.  Once we walked the trek from sketchy street parking to the parking lot the fest had been moved to, we really didn’t want to leave and have to park even further away later that night.  So we stayed.

The vibe wasn’t the same as the other music festival I’ve been to.  This had a distinctly Club Mtv Spring Break Daytona 1990 feel to it.  As the day wore on, it became the Club Mtv with a thick layer of trash over the hot cement.  Since we hadn’t planned on being there all day we didn’t have chairs, so we just sat on the asphalt and waited for something interesting to happen.

I guess the liberal amounts of beer and Bud Lemon Rita were draw enough for most of the crowd, a fair amount of whom were underage, but I couldn’t help but be bored out of my mind much of the day.  Thank goodness I had my knitting.  Do I sound like someone’s mother yet?

There were just a handful of booths selling concert shirts that we looked through right away and even less selling local handmade items.  It was just beer stands and food trucks, selling the same stuff over and over.

We did enjoy seeing artists we would never have seen otherwise.  Like Lola Wolf.  That was never gonna happen were it not for being stuck there all day.  You have to love a lyric like, “Got the whole hood but I only hang on my block.  Got the whole closet but I only wear one sock.”

I had never heard of Trampled by Turtles, so they were a nice surprise, too.

I liked Moving Units too.  It made me think of bands I used to listen to in the late 80s and early 90s, like New Order or Echo and the Bunnymen.   They put on a good show, considering the crowd wasn’t too thick and it was raining off and on.  I had no idea anyone else but me meowed to music instead of singing lyrics.  The more you know…

As soon as they finished it began pouring and everyone ran for… for nothing because we were all in a giant parking lot.  My husband and I did find one, lone tree and sat on a curb under it for a bit.  We watched all the kids mulling back and forth in their summer fest uniforms of hawaiian shirts and blue jean shorties.  And I have to say, I felt compelled to say, “Here, Honey, I have an extra shirt you can cover up in.”  But it was early in the day and I was all maternal benevolence.  I was there to see the love fest that is the Magnetic Zeros, after all, so being a cranky oldster would’ve been incongruous.  I looked around after an hour and realized the only other people sitting on this one curb were a graying couple who were laughing at Trae that Truth’s rap rant about Trump.

By late afternoon, the park had evacuated us because of lightening, then inexplicably, starting letting  people back in unofficially.  (The mixed up show schedule made us miss Violent Femmes, which was a bummer.)  They played a loud, loudspeaker message about vacating the park on a loop.  It was slightly apocalyptic.  Since it had cleared out, somewhat, we stood right at the front of the stage where Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros would be playing if they returned.

At this point that maternal benevolence for mankind I told you about was wearing thin and I remembered why high school got on my nerves so much.  Here’s where my talent for accessing incredible amounts of meditative focus to accomplish strange feats came in handy.  A crowd of teenagers started forming around us, pushing to get to the front and we had to stand to hold our ground.  Elbows out, I stood for a couple of hours.  I heard so many squealed, inarticulate OMGs.  I watched exaggerated joint rolling, for attention, and endured many ugly looks when I wouldn’t move and give my space to a pre-pubescent boy with a girl he referred to as “the old ball and chain.”  I stood with zen-like calm and no expression through all of the loud, inane talk that irked me when I was fifteen.  I held my ground amidst gossip sessions, third wheels, love triangles, and a boy next to me trying to work up the nerve to raise his arms above his head and dance like the white guy he was, with abandon.  Meanwhile, my old ball and chain was my rock.  Literally, he stood behind me so I could lean against him after the first couple of hours.  He didn’t budge with all of the pushing.  He held our bags and ignored the spacey girl who pushed to squeeze in by us, then said, “Could you quit touching me with your arm?”  

Again and again I’d ask myself am I just getting to be an oldie?  But every time I had to admit my twenty-one year old daughter would’ve cringed at the same doofiness.  Some people are just born Wilford Brimley.  The fact that I can vacillate between crotchety senior and joyous eight-year-old hiding behind the door to freak you out is an unpredictable mystery.  It wasn’t about listening to new music, or being in big crowds (well, maybe a little).  I think I have few opportunities to get away right now and really need to spend them feeding my soul.  The cool music aside, a day of drinking in a crowded parking lot just doesn’t do it for me.  Maybe I just needed something to hide behind so I could scare somebody.

So, was it all worth it?  Yeah.  I could’ve touched Alexander when he came out into the crowd, arms outstretched like some messianic figure.  I could’ve but, nah.  Also, seeing my husband at a Dead Mau5 concert was reason enough to stay.

(more on instagram and flickr)

Talk about incongruous.

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