Ageing well means adapting, trying new stuff and buying ear plugs in bulk
I don’t want to be stuck in the past – I want to enjoy or at least understand the now; all this despite the fact that every bone in my body says act your age. One of my sons is a serious metal core screamo musician. For those not in the scene, I could best describe it as excruciatingly loud noise made by musical instruments punctuated by the screaming of obscenities.
I come from the land of Bacharach and Bach, with a touch of Van Morrison and an overlay of Joe Hisaishi. ‘Screamo’ until recently, did not enter my lexicon. However, it has entered my home in the form of jam sessions, a drum kit and a fluctuating cable and amp population in what is laughingly referred to as our back room.
For the most part this is something I enjoy – I love the comings and goings of young guys all fired up with the enthusiasm of 14 years olds finding joy and triumph in making music. And every now and then I hear them make music that I can relate to, and I am in awe that they can play what I would cautiously call ‘real’ music.
Nonetheless, this is their passion. Bring Me the Horizon, Asking Alexandria, Attack! Attack! and most recently Parkway Drive have been words uttered with reverence in the sacrosanct backroom. And I have been lucky enough to be invited into their world, shown unlimited YouTube clips, admired their DW900 double kicks, and appreciated some flaming breakdowns. Truly.
But I still didn’t fully ‘get it’ – so when the son approached me for more concert ticket money a while back, I agreed – only if I could go too. This was a risky proposition, and I was braced for being rejected big time by my son, but much to my delight (he is a good kid) he said “Are you serious? YES!” and with that I entered into his world.
Of course since I am the only one old enough to drive, the CRV was full of excited young men as we forged through Friday night traffic to the Hordern Pavilion. I like my sons mates, they are very funny guys, but it is not often that we spend this much time in close quarters and I wasn’t sure how it was going to turn out when that hit song “I Just Had Sex” by (I think) Turtleneck came on the car radio and they all sang along.
“I just had sex,
And it felt so good (felt soooo good),
A woman let me put my penis inside her…”
Oh god let me out of the damn car NOW.
I declared a petrol emergency and searched for a petrol station into which I could run, screaming.
”Had sex, undressed, saw her boobies and the rest”.
Oh god, where is the screaming when I need it?
I stopped at the station, the boys tumbled out of the car and bought drinks and I hoped the rest of the trip to the concert would be better. On the way back to the car, being such fun loving dudes, one of the kids shook up all the cans of drinks, and then pestered me for the next 14 kilmotres to let him open it.
“It’ll be okay now Prue, what if I open it out of the window??”
“No. Put it down Dave.”
The conversation drifted to who was cool and who was not, favourite tunes, and best ever albums, worst ever groups.
“They are such scene fags” said one of the testosterone quartet.
“What the hell is that?” I ask, ready to be offended.
“The guys that just, you know, look the part, with the hair and the gear … you know”. I pretty much did as they were all in my car at that very minute.
“Can I open it NOW?”
Anyway, this was the experience I was after, and I was getting it in fistfuls.
We got to the Hordern Pavilion, and every one seemed at first glance to be between 12 and 18 years of age. And everyone was wearing Parkway Drive tank tops and tshirts and all the gear and I wondered how much the ‘merch’ as they call it was pulling in for the promoters.
In a blur I became the most useful member of our somewhat expanded troupe as I became the hold all – three sweaters, four phones, three wallets, all the tickets – I was laden down, but they were grateful so who cares?
Then we were into the hall. Unlike 90% of the ticketholders, I actually used the seat I had bought, whereas all the serious rockers were standing and jumping and waving their arms down the front. Of course there was the pit and the wall of death (I’m hip to it) and every now and then one of the group would come back to my seat to make sure I wasn’t actually deaf – and then asked if I could hand out more of my spare earplugs. This confuses me. They spend the money for the live experience, but it is so devastatingly loud, you simply have to wear ear plugs. I secretly thank Bunning’s for selling bulk packets of my little yellow buddies.
The noise is not relentless, as there are like five bands on before Parkway – and I’m guessing (though not an officianado) that they are ranked worse band first. That’s the way it seemed to me anyway. They all had one thing in common and that was using the F word in every sentence, every line of lyric and every salutation. “Hello Sydney! How the F…. are you doin’??” they called out from stage.
I looked around during the lights up periods and see other senior (by comparison) citizens and I wonder how many of them are here for their kids, or here for the ‘Drive’.
The night wore on. I confess to reading the New York Times on my iPhone and texting with my 16 year old Mozart loving 16 year old son who was at home.
“Can I come home yet? My ears are bleeding.”
“You asked for it”
Another band came on, this one brought not just musical instruments but also scenery. Two large signs that said “Get F____d”. Mozart it ain’t.
The crowd surfing increased as the night wore on, all I could see from my slightly raised seat was the bizarre silhouette of bodies being passed around across a sea of strangers’ willing hands. And then clothes started flying though the air. And at one point, a shark on a surfboard.
Then through the darkness and noise my son appeared by my side, and pointed to his feet, where I clearly saw one beautiful, new, Nike sneakered foot, and one foot with just a sock. “It came off when I was crowd surfing!” he screamed at me. He then proceeded to take my left sneaker so he could head back into the fray.
At exactly 11pm it all ended, security guards emptied the place with efficiency and no dramas, and after a few minutes my rag tag crew appeared with the missing Nike and smiles as wide as the Harbour Bridge.
Okay, I can’t say I liked it. I wouldn’t go again, but I am really happy I went once. There’s a good chance my artistic appreciation will continue to evolve, along with my own abilities in that area. There is research available now that looks at how a person’s artistic abilities post right-hand sided stroke, can actually be enhanced, and those with aphasia and other limiting results can find new outlets in painting.*
Maybe post stroke I too will queue up for a Parkway Drive Tank Top … I wonder if they will have ramp access to the merch?