Monday, June 15, 2009

Surviving the Pit

It was 5pm when I pulled into the muddy Pop’s parking lot. The sun was hanging in the sky with about 2 hours of sunlight left creating a gorgeous silhouette of the outdoor stage.

I stared at my ticket asking myself if this was going to be worth it. Rancid wasn’t even the headliner. Either way, I stepped out of the car and entered the venue by myself taking a comfortable position stage center about four people back.

The last time I saw Rancid was my birthday two years earlier at one of the last Mississippi Nights shows I was to see. Last year I was supposed to see them again in mid-June in Myrtle Beach, but somehow getting back to St. Louis became priority and I sold my ticket on eBay so we could take off.

I didn’t know how long of a wait I had before the Riverboat Gamblers took the stage, but my favorite pastime is picking people out of the crowd.

At every concert there are several types of people:

-Joe Beer/Smoke- This person either slams 15 beers in the middle of the crowd and gets pissed once the music starts and they spill everywhere or they smoke like a chimney making it impossible to breath in the close quarters. Usually scream “Whew!” a lot.

-Fat and or tall guy- No matter how tall you are, a guy four inches taller always ends up in front of you. Then to the side there is always the overweight guy that starts sweating before the show and will inevitably want to try to crowd surf, killing people in his wake.

-Shirtless guy- Opposite of you from the fat guy is the guy that thinks its cool that he takes off his shirt to show off his freshly shaved chest and trendy Coy Fish/Tribal/Kanji tattoos. No matter how hard you try to get away, this guy always comes back to you like a magnet.

-The “I’m hardcore” posers- These people are the ones that come to punk shows with The Clash t-shirts, sleeveless jean jackets with 14,000 anti-authority/obscure band patches, and talks about how they liked the band before they sold out and want to hear nothing but songs from their first cassette tape that only 15 people had.

-Highschool person- Then there’s always that one person that you went to high-school with that you didn’t really know, but they always want to come up and relive memories that you didn’t have together.

So how long was my wait? About two hours.
With these people all around me how long did it feel? Like an eternity.

The Riverboat Gamblers came on around 7pm and really surprised me at how great they were live. I made a mental note to check out some of their music later on.

Finally Rancid came on stage and blew… my… friggin’… mind.
Burning through songs that covered their entire 20 year catalogue, the ground became an ever changing organism. Strangers bounced off each other, hugged, sang, and jumped up and down without any weirdness. It was natural.

After every song I thought to myself, “I’m probably too old from this. I should get out.” Then Rancid would pull me back in with another song.

I saw comrades in the mosh pit leave one by one until by the end there were only about a half dozen of the original punks dancing around like idiots. I felt proud that even though I have a bum knee and am 24 years old I can still outlast most 16 year olds in the mosh pit. It was a sense of pride to come home that night with ears ringing and bruises forming singing with my hoarse voice “Ruby ruby ruby ruby soho…”