This wasn’t a concert I would ever seek out on my own, but as soon as I heard about it I knew I was going.
The band was Social Distortion, Jeff’s favorite (he first saw them 20 years ago), and the venue was the 40 Watt in Athens, Ga., a quick walk from Chris‘ place. (They also played 2 days before in Charlotte, but I passed on that one: Seeing a band I barely know twice in three days? No thanks.)
We weren’t even sure if we were actually going to get in. Jeff and Chris tried in vain to get tickets after they were sold out, so our official plan was to go hang around outside the venue and see if anyone was selling them.
Secretly, I was almost hoping we wouldn’t get tickets. I knew a few of their songs, but they weren’t “my kind of band,” I thought. I asked Jeff weeks before to tell me which songs of theirs I would like, so I could put them on my iPod and listen to them, and he never did it. I knew they were Jeff’s favorite but he had just seen them in Charlotte; he didn’t need to see them again. Also, the one other time I’ve been in the 40 Watt I had learned that it was a very small venue with a very big sound. The acoustics were not great and the idea of being packed like sardines in a place with too-loud music I may or may not like had didn’t sound like a perfect Friday night. And Athens is never lacking of fun things to do – if we didn’t get to the concert we could go dance the night away at 8es or drink beer at Pauley’s or play darts or shuffleboard or …
After tapas at Casa Mia, Chris and I headed to his work to store leftovers in the fridge and Jeff headed to the 40 Watt to see what there was to see. 5 minutes later, he called me: “I got one ticket!” he said. A minute later: “I got two!” A minute after that: “Got the third one! Get down here.”
So, like it or not, I was going to see Social Distortion.
After getting the tickets all settled (they had to go through Will Call with the ticketholders; I had a paper ticket) we headed next door to Trapeze during the opening acts – Jeff didn’t want to subject us to too many bands we may or may not like …
While we waited he broke out the Blackberry and played a couple of Social D mp3s for us. “Oh, I know that song,” I kept saying … (Jeff pointed out it’s only natural; I have been subjected to his music for the past 10 years).
After a pumpkin beer (expertly chosen by Chris) it was time to go. We walked in the door, ordered PBRs and earplugs – and instantly I was happy. I felt like a prude asking for them – but I soon realized a ton of people had them, and I could still hear the music very well: I was a happy camper.
There was an instant friendly vibe that made me realize this was about more than the music. This was to be an experience.
I met a girl in the bathroom who a) told me she liked my hair, and b) told me she had decided it was a good idea to pay compliments to strangers, even if the strangers decided that made her a freak. I told her I liked her idea – and her hair too, for the record!
That girl in the bathroom was just the beginning. Everyone there was in high spirits, was happy, was friendly. There was an unspoken vibe of comraderie. Eye contact and smiles everywhere.
The music started – and I actually liked it. Really liked it, as a matter of fact. The first song I recognized was a rendition of “Ring of Fire” – and I didn’t know that version but I loved it. And the music kept getting better and better (and not because of the PBR, I promise!)
I knew a lot more of the songs than I thought I would. I was dancing to songs I knew and songs I didn’t know. I was watching the crowd go wild and I was part of it. And it didn’t matter that I had only been a true fan for 5 minutes – I was a fan. I even told Jeff I couldn’t wait for them to play “Story of My Life” as that was my favorite Social D song. Look at me, with a favorite Social D song …
At one point I decided to get some air – it did get pretty stuffy in there and there was one particularly smelly roadie who had decided his favorite place to be was dancing right around us. I was outside and then I heard the familiar music: “Story of My Life”. And all the smokers outside put out cigarettes and made a mad rush for the door – “Hey, ‘Story of My Life’ is playing!” they all excitedly said.
I wandered in and danced my ass off, and I marveled at how a ho-hum evening could turn into a fantastic one. All it takes is the right attitude, the right vibe, the willingness to try something new. Always having fun no matter what – that’s the story of my life.
Tomorrow I’ll tell you about the one bad fan (no, not the smelly guy.)