Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Small Print Leads to a Mosh Pit

          On the very last page of the Large Manual O' Stepmothering, at the bottom, in six-point type, under the heading Other Duties and Responsibilities, is the following phrase, which anyone could be forgiven for missing on a first read: "Take the stepchildren to concerts by very loud bands of whom you have never heard."

          I only discovered it when K absolutely refused to take his youngest, B, to a Social Distortion concert, and I was press-ganged into service.

          "Who are Social Distortion?" I asked innocently. B rolled his eyes, which meant both, "A punk band that is far too cool for the likes of you," and "How can it be that my only ride to this show is a black hole of uncool who will suck all my coolness into her plumbless depths? I wonder if I can get her to sit in the car for two hours."

This is Social Distortion, for those of you who join me in being
tragically uncool. They do the very best version of "Ring of Fire"
since the Man in Black himself. I also love the logo.
Sadly, this does not make me cool.
           But, the instructions in the Large Manual were clear. So we got tickets, and I sacrificed a lovely July evening that I had planned to spend reading (because we uncool do not Go Out; we Stay In. Alas. And read.) to the cause of B hearing Social Distortion live.

          Punk is not my very most favorite genre, so I was expecting a loud, unpleasant evening spent going deaf while keeping an eye on B and trying not to suck all of his cool into my plumbless depths of uncool.

          I perked up a little bit when the opening act set up. There was a bass. I firmly believe that a bass*  makes any band better, and so I thought perhaps this concert wouldn't be the exercise in decibel-thrashing, head-banging despair I had expected.

          Then The Reverend Horton Heat took the stage, and gave us a wall-thumping, amplifier-bouncing, psychobilly tent revival from hell that even the crème de la uncool could tell was Something Else Again. Those boys didn't rock so much as rampage through a scorching-hot set that blew us to our feet and pulsed through the floor until we were powerless not to dance, even the uncool. Even the stepmothers.

This man made a believer out of me.

          Well, I thought to myself when they cleared the stage after their set, that was pretty cool. B was so busy enjoying himself that he hadn't even forbidden me to dance when the spirit generated by that battered, duct-taped up bass had moved me to try steps I hadn't done since college.**

          We were out of our seats by this time, and a mosh pit had formed down in front of the stage. When Social D came onstage and snarled into their set, B shouted something in my ear. "What?" I shouted back. He put his mouth against my ear and bellowed, "I want to go into the mosh pit!"

          What the hell, I thought. I yelled back, "Okay, but I'm going with you." I had no first-hand experience, but I had read about mosh pits, and they sounded like a place where a kid could use some backup from his stepmom***.

          I hate crowds. I hate really loud music. Not to say I hate punk, but I'm not a fan. So why was I dancing in front of a speaker stack that vibrated my entire body, crushed in with a bunch of sweaty kids in a mosh pit, listening to a punk band hammer out "Ball and Chain," and thinking, wow, I have got to get out more. This is great! 

          Because Social Distortion live + way too much amplification + dancing like a holy roller =  transcendence.

          Everyone needs to break free of their boundaries once in a while, to jackhammer themselves with music so big it surrounds and shakes them like a terrier shakes a rat. Dancing in that mosh pit, I felt powerful. I felt elemental. I felt cool.

          Until, that is, a big guy with a beer gut slammed into me. Hard and deliberately. As people do in mosh pits.

          I punched him in that beer gut. Because transcendence just can't overcome my feral dislike of being slammed into under any circumstances. Even if I should know enough to expect it in a mosh pit.

          Quicker than regret, I became a black hole of uncool again. B grabbed my arm, said, "Okay, it's time to get out of here, Nancy," and dragged me up to the balcony of theatre. We spent the rest of the concert up there, safely remote from other concertgoers. B was nice enough not to grump about how I'd spoiled his show, but I did notice that he kept a certain distance between us.

          So that I wouldn't suck all his cool into my plumbless depths of uncool. And also possibly so that I wouldn't punch him, too.****
*not talking about a guitar here, kids, but an actual string bass, beloved of jazzmen, folksingers, and rockabillies.
**I may have pogoed.
***Yes, this is a deeply uncool thought. I did not share it with B.
****Just to clarify, the first rule in The Large Manual O' Stepmothering, which I have followed scrupulously, is "Under no circumstances should you punch the stepchildren."



1 comment:

  1. Proof that totally uncool people perform cool actions wen necessary.