Going To A Punk Show In Your Thirties: A Guide

Step One: Get dressed. Be mad at the respectability of your clothing. Get dressed again. Realize you have forgotten how to put the scene uniform together. Give up. Wear jeans and a black shirt. Add a belt for fun. Realize that this was all you ever did when you were young, too.

Step Two: Arrive an hour late, because you know from experience that this shit never starts on time. Be faintly nervous that it won’t be like it used to be. Pull into the parking lot, look around, and realize that it’s exactly the same. People are drinking in their cars.

Step Three: Find a place to sit down while the opening bands play: not because you’re too cool to show the opening acts love, but because you are old and tired and the idea of pogo dancing for three goddamn hours makes you nauseous now.

Step Four: Check out the people. Compare their ages to yours. Realize that this is a reunion show for a favorite band from your old scene and most people are your contemporaries. Sigh with relief that you aren’t the old weirdo yet.

Step Five: Between sets, go outside like you used to, even though you have quit smoking. Find outside two people vaping and a horde of other people standing around wondering why they’re outside, because they have also quit smoking.

Step Six: Hear a song permanently engraved on your teenage heart. Join the stampede back inside. Realize that one of the original band members who you KNOW you saw tonight is not playing with the band but standing against the wall looking somber. Wonder what happened.

Step Seven: Let yourself explode with joy. Sing loudly. Be transported through time. Dance. Realize three songs in that you need to sit down again or you’re going to faint. Push to the back. Sit down. Keep singing.

Step Eight: Hear a song that grabs you by your nostalgic bones. Somehow manage to get up again. Pogo for five seconds before settling down and tapping your foot, feeling suddenly like the action doesn’t matter because the feeling is the same.

Step Nine: Watch the original bass player come away from the wall and politely request the bass from his replacement. Tear up a little when your heart expands seeing him put it on.

Step Ten: Pour everything you have into dancing, singing, and celebrating the last song with all these old friends, including the ones you’ve never met. Be emptied. Glow. Get a patch from the merch table even though you have nothing to put it on now. Go home.

Step Eleven: Go to bed sore as hell and smelling like other people’s sweat. Be disinclined to care. Listen to your ears ring. Know both that you are too old for this, and that you will do it again until you die.

***

Thanks for this post to the River City Rebels for their return, a strange and wonderful event. Dan, you’ve still got it. In fact, the only way we know you’ve aged at all is that your ink has faded. Here’s to many more shows.

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