I’M TOUGH. BUT NOT LIKE THAT.
Originally posted on the website:
Do you like the thrill of being in a crowd? Are you in need of bodies slamming against yours? Do you like the rush that goes through you when a mass of people moves suddenly and you are lifted right off the ground and carried several feet before landing? Do you like the pleasure of a cute, sweaty girl jiggling all over you and her hair all in your face? (It’s no problem if you keep your hands up at least by your chest so you don’t inadvertently grab anything you shouldn’t, if you know what I’m saying. You need to keep your hands up anyway to protect yourself from the moshers.) If you are craving any of what I just described, than there is only one thing you need:
My good Buddy O, my son T, and I went to Roseland Ballroom in New York City to see Primus last night. (Yes, I’ve reverted to using initials instead of full names again. Remember, I’m incognito here.) Buddy O is a huge Primus fan and he’s a fantastic bass player. If you know anything about Primus, you know that their music is driven by the song writing and bass playing of Les Claypool. It is no wonder that Buddy O loves their tunes. He and I have played some of their songs together in the past. So, I knew that he would definitely appreciate going to this concert. And my son T, he likes Primus a lot too. See, I’m raising him right!
We three bumpkins from New Jersey attempted to use the trains to get into the city instead of driving this time. We took the Path train from Newark to 33rd St. in Manhattan. Then we got the R subway up to 49th St. From there it was just a short walk to Roseland on 52nd St. Once we figured out just how to use the machine to purchase Metro cards, the trip into the city was a smooth one. The subway between 33rd and 49th was completely packed at 6:30 when we got on it. We couldn’t even reach the bars to hold onto. We had to press our hands against the ceiling to keep our balance. There’s one problem being a tall guy. As soon as I lift my arms over my head, my armpits are right in someone’s face. Luckily for my fellow passengers, I had applied copious amounts of Ban deodorant to the old pits just before leaving home.
After a quick stop for a slice of tasty New York pizza, we arrived at Roseland to find a mile long line waiting to get in. There was a leftover hippie-type guy frantically canvassing the line looking to buy a ticket from someone. Too bad I sold an extra ticket that I had a few blocks before we got there. I should have waited and made a killing off the hippie! He probably would have paid me a pretty penny and maybe even thrown in his hemp bracelet and John Lennon glasses. Later I saw him inside making his way through the boisterous crowd, unaffected by the chaos. It must have been the mushrooms helping him.
The opening act of the show isn’t worth mentioning. They did have a unique creativity going on with two cellists and a drummer comprising the band. However, the singer’s pseudo-political comments before a few songs make the band unworthy of mention by name here. Buddy O even turned his back to the stage after one of her comments. That same comment prompted the crowd to throw things at her through the whole song. I just wanted to tell her she was a big, fat, pinko Communist. But that wouldn’t have been nice.
It seemed like it took an eternity for Primus to take the stage. It always feels that way when I’m waiting for a band I really like to come on. The stage hands tuned guitars and checked mic levels and all that jazz. Then they left the stage. People cheered expecting the show to start. But the stage hands came back. This happened several times. Once when the stage hands came back, a group near us started chanting, “You’re not them! You’re not them!” Finally they left for the last time and the house lights went out. That was when the crowd surged. I got shoved from behind and thought I was going to go down when my feet got tripped up. Then we surged backwards, then sideways. As soon as Primus began kicking out the riff to the first song, “Harold of the Rocks,” the place went berserk! People were jumping up and down, slamming into each other, screaming. There was nothing you could do to resist the currents running through the crowd. I soon realized that to try to stand still and hold my ground was a seriously faulty plan, especially when I was lifted right off my feet while wedged between several people. Then I thought that if I bounced and jumped a little like everyone else I would probably fare much better. But that activity became weird as soon as I realized that by jumping I was humping some sweaty dude in front of me! I stopped. I’d rather get plowed over and trampled into the floor than give any guy the impression that I had some kind of affinity for his cheeks. Yes, there were girls mingled into the whole mess. But while that was attractive, it also made things more difficult because I didn’t want to hurt any of them. At one point I felt someone’s hands grab onto my shoulders. I turned to see a girl hanging onto me and jumping her little rock-n-roll heart out. That was nice and all. But at another point, after getting slammed into pretty hard and losing my cool, I grabbed the people in front of me and pushed them forward as hard as I could, plowing them through a few rows of bodies. Then I realized that one of the people I had a grip on was a girl. Damn! I beat it out of there and hid in case her boyfriend was nearby. I didn’t want to get hurt. Wait. To be afraid of getting hurt by a girl’s boyfriend while in the midst of a frenzied mass of Primus fans where one was bound to get hurt anyway seems to be an unnecessary anxiety.
I did get kicked in the head by a girl who was crowd surfing over us. And a guy in front of me that was pumping his fist in the air along with the music whacked me in the forehead. But I didn’t get hurt too badly. My feet got the most abuse. Remind me to wear steel-toed shoes for the next Primus concert. I came close to getting hurt a few times by some guys that were doing some pretty violent moshing. One tough looking bald guy seemed out to intentionally hurt people by running into them. That wasn’t cool. It’s all fun and games until someone loses a head. Speaking of losing a head, one ingredient that the managers of Roseland Ballroom should have left out of the Primus mix was beer. People were trying to pass through that crowd with cups of beer raised above their heads. It was just my luck to get doused with beer at least three times. My shirt was soaked and dripping. I hate beer! Please, please, please! Pour rum on me! Spare me the beer!
There were two things about the show that disappointed me. The first was that the show had to be stopped after about 20 minutes because the crowd broke the barricade in front of the stage. The stage hands interrupted the band, turned the lights on and took 15 minutes to nail the barricade back to the floor. The second disappointment was that Primus only played for 90 minutes, including the down time for the barricade replacement and one short encore. When they walked off stage and the house lights came on, it just didn’t feel right. Everyone in the crowd just stood there looking at each other with a look on their faces that asked, “Is that it? What do we do now?” It was as if the lights suddenly exposed us in our foolish aggression and we all stood there with sheepish grins wondering if we should apologize for hurting each other. Then we made our way to the coat check, fetched our belongings, and five minutes later we were calmly strolling the streets of New York.
We entered the subway station at 49th St. at 11:30 to begin our journey home. We waited for the R train for over 20 minutes. Two N trains stopped and left during that time. Being the Jersey bumpkins we were, we didn’t know that the R doesn’t run downtown late at night. You need to take the N instead! Buddy O finally clarified that with a subway worker and we were able to get on the next N train. At 34th St. we had a little trouble finding the entrance to the Path station. So we took a break and bought hot dogs and beef shishkabobs from a street vendor. If one sees a street vendor after midnight, in a not so busy area such as we were in, one should question the wisdom of purchasing and consuming meat products from such vendor. Learn your lesson from me. Wait to get home to eat. After a wait that seemed longer than the wait for Primus to appear, the Path train to New Jersey arrived at the station. That was a long, sleepy trip to Newark. Buddy O was kind enough to give up his seat next to me to allow a tired but very pretty girl to sit down. I made sure to thank him for that later. But I bet this dark haired beauty wished she was standing on the opposite end of the train once she sat by me. I was reeking! I was covered with beer, smoked like a country ham by all the cigarette and marijuana smoke that surrounded me at Roseland and the residue of my own sweat and the sweat of a multitude was only beginning to dry on my skin. I was one sweet smelling bouquet. Let me tell you! I gave the girl a smile anyway. What the hell. Whatever she did in response wouldn’t be as bad as what I’d already been through that night. But damn! Don’t just ignore me, baby! Ouch! I’m tough. But not like that.
We got home at 2:30 in the morning after the 40 minute drive from Newark. Being the lazy bastard I am, I merely changed my shirt and jumped into bed when I got home. I know, “gross.” I wasn’t really lazy, just exhausted. Sometimes there’s a difference. To tell you the truth, 90 minutes of Primus was enough. I could use a good massage today. It’s not so bad when a band only leaves your ears ringing the next day. But Primus seems to be a full body experience. I can’t wait to see them on their next tour! I should be able to recuperate in a year or two! Mosh on!