I Miss Concerts

In this age of social distancing, I’m beginning to wonder if I will ever be able to attend a live concert again. That makes me sad. Where else can you scream at the top of your lungs in public and not be taken away by the men in white coats? That’s a valuable release, and one I find increasingly necessary in these tense, strange times.

I also feel the need to goof off rather than blog today, so please hop over to read a post I wrote long ago, entitled Concert Therapy, for more on this subject. In the mean time, stay safe, stay sane, and scream if the spirit moves you.

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The Milk Bar

Once upon a time in Jacksonville, Florida, the hippest venue in the entire city was a place called the Milk Bar on Adams Street. It’s no longer there. That’s a shame. It’s sort of my white whale.

Just so we’re clear: I’m not hip. I never was. And the ship has long since sailed that would have allowed me to ever be.

The Milk Bar featured bands like Mustard Plug and Modest Mouse and Fishbone and Sister Machine Gun and Matchbox Twenty and They Might Be Giants and Korn and Less Than Jake and Ice-T and Public Enemy and Limp Bizkit. It was the place to be, man.

Back then, downtown Jacksonville was pretty scary after dark. It was dirty and dingy and full of questionable bystanders. The Milk Bar shared a block with Legal Aid and the Salvation Army Surplus Store. So even getting to the place was kind of an achievement. It was in a dark basement, which was full of creepy mannequins. Or so I’m told.

I never went to the Milk Bar. I wanted to. Badly. I was even invited there once, by a coworker. Kind of a, “I’ll be there, if you want to come hang out with us,” kind of thing. She was about 10 years younger than me, and she was as hip as they come. She liked to wear form-fitting jeans, men’s undershirts, wide leather belts and work boots, and she was sexy as hell. She didn’t even have to try. I wanted to be her. (I haven’t seen her in decades. I recently sent her a Facebook friends request. She didn’t respond.)

So, on the night she invited me, I drove over and… sat in my car, second-guessing myself while staring at the entrance to the bar. What if I went in and she wasn’t there? (This was before the age of cell phones.) Even if she was there, she’d be the only person I knew in the entire place. I was sure she’d be surrounded by friends. I was sure I’d be the oldest person there. I’d be the creepiest of wallflowers. It was probably just a pity invite in the first place.

I couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t. I sat in my car and had a good cry for the person I would have liked to have been. Then I went home and never tried to go to the Milk Bar again. I sometimes wonder if that night would have been some sort of turning point for me. Probably not. But I’ll never know, now.

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Jacksonville’s own Limp Bizkit

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Concert Therapy

I went to an Indigo Girls concert the other night and left feeling euphoric. While I love their music, I can’t say I have been a classic fan. I don’t buy their albums or follow them closely, so I couldn’t sing along with any but their most popular songs. I’m sort of a lazy enthusiast, if that makes any sense at all. I’ve seen them in concert once before and had a fantastic time, so I knew I’d enjoy myself this time, too.

But I left thinking, “What is it about concerts in general?” I always leave a concert feeling sated, relaxed, and happy. I’d love to have that state of mind all the time. And here’s what I think it is: only in a concert are you allowed to scream and sing at the top of your lungs, and generally make a fool of yourself in public, and that’s SUCH a release. And then there’s the fact that every person around you is doing the same thing, and there’s also this general agreement about your current experience, and that is something we as a society seem to feel less and less with each passing day. Everyone who is at a concert is there because they want to be. We’re all on the same page. We’re in this together. It’s almost like a weight is lifted from everyone’s shoulders. Freedom!

If concerts could be made in pill form, there would be peace on earth.

concert-photography-4e (credit: exposureguide.com)