A few weeks ago I lived a TATE fan’s dream by attending their three night show in San Francisco. Each night highlighted one album. Little did I know the three nights would be a progression in growth not only in sound, but in maturity as well. Maybe I got the idea after reading a terrific article on their third album. It sang me a little more than literary lyrics. I walked away with an understanding that turning forty might not be so bad. (Which is a good thing since I’m only a month away now.)
Bestie and I started the debut night arriving thirty minutes before the show and being sent to the end of the line. The back isn’t so bad when you know you’re standing in the priority entrance line. The “Fronts” had already worked out all the entry details about how priority entrance worked. Bestie and I mingled with other fans, talked about where we’d traveled from, and how many shows we had notched on our belts. When the doors opened we landed a few rows back from the “Fronts”-lined stage.
Our back-of-line mates were hella sports about playing my immature games. We touched noses to unsuspecting fans, ordered impulsive and expensive drinks, and kept it rowdy right up until the band walked out on stage.
Then it was rocking out time. Singing, dancing, and jumping ensued. We felt invincible until Mikel jumped from the stage. The crowd surged in every direction. I pushed against anyone to hold my ground and keep from falling down. I swayed back and forth in great fear of succumbing to the faceless mob and being trampled to death. Bestie was lost eight rows back. The crowd seemed so big in that moment. Faceless people willing to step on your back to get a little more for themselves. Maybe a little innocence was lost.
On the second night we chose enjoying a nice dinner together versus standing eight hours in line to be with the Fronts. We fell back in line with our same friends from the night before. Each of us wore a little more knowledge and exhaustion about what to expect. I expanded the mingling circle to capture some of the Fronts we’d met throughout the day. The doors opened and we grabbed a closer position than the night before. We focused on building relationships with the fans to make the most of the evening.
When the show was about to start, Bestie and I agreed to hold our ground. We recruited young girls behind us to keep the area locked down to keep the wild children from our ruining our night. The band delivered an epic show. Maybe they’d learned a little something from the first night. Or maybe I understood to enjoy every minute because the fun wouldn’t last forever. When Mikel jumped into the crowd he landed in our laps. The surge pushed from behind and we stood fierce. We didn’t get split up or scream uncontrollably in his face. I even showed great restraint and didn’t grab his ass. We waited for the crazy to pass because we knew it would and enjoyed the experience for what it was.
The music boomed with high energy the whole night. I stopped caring what I might look like in the end and enjoyed my groove. I sweated into a disgusting hair mess and wore it like a badge of honor. The night was for us.
The last night was a little melancholy. The end was near and we could all feel it. We reminisced about the two previous nights and picked our favorite highlights. Bestie and I chose not to crush it in the pit. Instead our plan involved finding seats in the balcony. Doors opened and we said good-bye to the Fronts. We went our separate ways and found the best seats in the balcony. We sipped drinks without any spilled down our backs. We sat comfortably instead of jockeying for another inch closer to the stage. We appreciated our Front friends from above and waited for Airborne to take the stage.
The balcony brought a completely different experience than the two previous nights. The music wasn’t as loud. It didn’t pump through our nerves and force a wild dance. The stage was distant, but I could see it all. Instead of having to focus on one or two band members at a time, I could see how they all worked together. The light bulbs didn’t flicker, but instead streamed to the back wall and danced across the places they landed. At times I yearned to be back in the pit, covered in sweat, and experiencing the music in a physical way. Wishing to have done something a little different or maybe even more daring. This seems to always be the case when a conclusion is around the corner.
The concerts reminded me it’s okay to get older. Each night and album highlighting the changes from the band’s experiences and travel. Once naive songs about a boy missing a girl have turned into meaningful prose about mortality. It doesn’t mean the music is bad. In fact, some of my favorite songs are from the second album. They even played a song from their upcoming and I couldn’t be more excited. Maybe this is the push I needed to remind me turning forty might not be so bad.