My buddy is heading out to the Garden tonight to see Roger Waters. That would be Madison Square Garden, and Mister Waters is the brain/misanthrope behind the heyday of Pink Floyd. I'm not going, primarily because I'm on the opposite side of the country. He e-mailed me to chastise me for this oversight, and I took his criticism with the grain of salt with which it was intended.
The truth is, we used to go to concerts together all the time. Over a ten year period, we probably saw thirty-some shows with each other. Some of these involved camping out overnight for tickets in the weeks before the actual event, so we had plenty of time invested before we ever heard a note. This was back in the days when lining up to buy tickets meant you got the seats - before having a speed dial or a high-speed Internet connection meant front row. Somewhere in the basement is a box containing a wad of ticket stubs from a dozen different venues and dozens of different bands.
My favorite thing about our concert-going experience was never the actual concert. What I always truly reveled in was the post-concert debrief. We generally headed for a nearby Denny's and pored over the set list, our expectations, our disappointments, and what we would have wanted to see and hear if we had been running the show.
This ritual probably had its roots in the way that my brothers and I would line up to take turns regurgitating the plot and details of the movie we had just seen to my mother. She was endlessly patient to listen to three different versions of "Conquest of the Planet of the Apes" and even often even lesser fare. Those late night discussions at Denny's provided endless recapitulation of what we saw and heard. We snickered at those neophytes around us who were foolish enough to buy a souvenir shirt and wear it at the show where they had purchased it. We created spectacular bills with headliners that only we wanted to see. And most of all, we picked the nits out of the list of songs that were chosen for the night's performance. What was missing? What was unnecessary? Most of all, why wasn't it the list that we had imagined when we sat out on the cold concrete in front of the ticket window for thirty-six hours?
I'm forty-four now. I'm not going to as many shows because it generally involves getting someone to watch our son while we go out into the night. I haven't seen my buddy from New York for more than a year now - even though we stay in touch. And we're tossing around a rendezvous somewhere in the midwest - maybe seeing Cheap Trick in Illinois. I sure hope they play "High Priest of Rhythmic Noise." That would be awesome.