Monday, June 9, 2008

RUSH

Last Tuesday night, I went to the Rush concert. I would have written about it sooner, but our seats were in direct line of fire of a speaker stack, and my ears only quit ringing on Sunday. I thought it best to wait until I was all the way done hearing the music before I write about it.

As concerts go it was pretty good. If you're a Rush fan, they're worth checking out. Musically, they're a talented bunch. As one would expect, Neil Peart, the drummer, did a solo that was nothing short of remarkable. It was on par with Axel Rose playing the piano, or Tom Scholz on the organ. It didn't provide the "I can't believe I just saw that" feeling of a U2 concert, but it was still an impressive show, especially considering these guys have been making music for as long as I've been alive.

Of course the real fun of going to a rock concert is the show within the show. So let's talk about that as well. I was actually a bit surprised at the low number of mullets, especially after my experience at the Australian Pink Floyd show at the same venue. But there were a few, as well as several hairstyles that had apparently been adapted from a mullet once the wearer decided to try and catch up with the times.

What we were lacking in mullets, though, was more than made up for with tattoos. Perhaps tattoos are the new mullet. The "business up front, party in the back" attitude has been replaced with tattoos that may or may not be covered when one is dressed in business attire. In fact, upon entering the arena, I noticed a no-higher-than-expected frequency of low-cut shirts on the female attendees. I was amazed, however, that the first ten or so women in such attire all had tattoos on what would rightly be considered their breasts. Come on, of all the places to put a tattoo, that was the best you could come up with? Or perhaps reality lies closer to the more shocking corollary, specifically, that was the only place left.

Once we settled into our seats, we got to actually sit in them for about fifteen minutes or so before the show began. (Being old guys, Eric and I considered viewing the concert from a seated position as a good thing.) When the band began playing, everyone rose, and a seemingly nuclear familial unit a couple rows in front of us turned themselves into a fire hazard. Rather than standing in front of their seats like the rest of us, they stood in the stairway aisle adjacent to their seats. The woman/mother was the most enthusiastic, flashing the "rock on" sign and banging her nearly femulleted head with such vigor that there had to have been some stimulants at play. The older male/father and younger male/son of this group were also quite enthusiastic but exhibited their pleasure in a less typical fashion--they hugged several times during the show. On a handful of occasions, all three would embrace in a group hug, whose tightness hit an apex during the intro to "Tom Sawyer." More on this later.

This theme of female fanaticism for the band Rush was also displayed just a few seats over by two ladies attending the concert on a girls night out. There was enough resemblance to suggest they were sisters, but they also chose to enhance the similarity by wearing matching tour shirts. To get my sisters to attend a concert performed by an all-male band would require that one or more of the band members are gay.

The more typical female attendees were those accompanying their male dates, but even these elicited surprise. The most notable case was the attractive young lady accompanying the beer-bellied, balding, gray-haired guy a few rows behind us. Either she was a lot older than she looked, or he was absolutely filthy rich. Either way, he should have been flagged for "disproportionately hot girlfriend."

Another one I got a kick out of was the 17 year old with the anti-gravity devices attached to her chest. I'm assuming she was 17, because she and her date left mid-concert, shortly before 10:00 p.m. She must have an early curfew on school nights.

I do not, however, mean to imply that all the women were attractive. Not by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, either the skank wrangler had the night off or had passed out on the job.

Given my desire to sit down throughout the performance, I have no right to consider myself anything other than an old guy. But at a concert for a band that rose to prominence in the 70's and 80's, I'm still among the youngsters in the crowd. The funny thing is that a lot of the people didn't realize that they had gotten old, and were still acting and dressing like they would have had they seen Rush back in '82. One that comes to mind was the woman a row in front of us who was sporting a very professional, bookish-looking hairstyle with an equally sophisticated pair of glasses. And a halter top. That was a little incongruous.

The air guitar, the singing along, and all the other behavioral quirks of rock band wannabes also contributed to the entertainment value of the show within the show, but the climax had to have been about halfway through the second set when I turned to Eric and asked if I was the only one who thought it smelled as if someone had gone to the restroom and returned with the urinal cake in his pocket. Eric indicated that this was not an olfactory delusion and pointed behind us to where three rows by six seats were vacated, and one of the venue employees was busy spraying chemicals, sprinkling things on the ground, and otherwise sanitizing the recently unoccupied seating area. I'm sure someone was having a great time. But wouldn't it be cheaper to get roaring drunk and go see a cover band at some dive bar? I mean, if you're not going to remember the event anyway, might as well save some coin, right?

I guess it's a little cheap of me to poke fun at all those around me without poking a little fun at myself, but thankfully the band members were willing to take the high road when it comes to humor. They did so by introducing "Tom Sawyer" with the following. That and the song that followed were the high point of the evening. Especially since by then the urinal cake smell had dissipated.

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