A Night at the Fillmor
by Cheryl Mathis on September 6th, 2008
After the show was over last night, Dino said he couldn’t wait to read what I write about my first rock concert. I hope he’s not disappointed, and I hope he treats this with kindness.
I went to my first rock concert last night at The Fillmor. The venue is beautiful and large and sparkling. Everyone I met was warm and enthusiastic, and I made new friends and had some fantastic conversations between sets. I even *gulp* drank some alcoholic beverages. My experiences are filtered through that boozy haze, and my head feels like it’s filled with angry cotton balls this morning, yet I still have something I need to say.
Years ago, I made the conscious decision to retreat from the social butterfly life of my college years. The drama turned scary, and I needed to figure out a new path for adulthood. I grew introspective and began to live very much in my own body. I spent months invariably alone, listening to countless audiobooks, working on needle crafts, finding some quiet in my head. The peace I found was pervasive, and it’s been very difficult to leave those years behind and move on to the next phase of my life.
I think I expected college-years-Cheryl to stretch out of her self-imposed cocoon and flutter about and party hard last night. It didn’t happen that way. My ear drums quickly grew numb, so the music’s lyrics blended into the background of loud excellent sound. I felt mute, my voice not reaching more than three inches in front of my face, and I became more quiet inside than ever before.
The music was great. Even I could tell that. Cool Hand and then SUNSPOT rocked that stage until it closed the place down, slamming the crowd with rough-edged rock anthems and what can only be described as superb musicianship. I was fascinated by the display of skill: they made it look so easy and fun! (I had to play piano for more than seven years before performing became easy and fun… I can only imagine what they’ve done to prepare). The “show” was good, and it was interesting to see the dynamic between musicians and between musicians and the fans.
It felt like pure escapism at one minute, but the next, simply elemental, a connection made between strangers with only a piercing glance and shared sound thumping through our bones. Discarded glasses and bottles littered the stage as that of candles in a cult ritual, the blue, red and yellow lights reflecting off the glass, glimmering like soft moonlight on water, standing sentinel.
I stayed until the end, watching and writing, talking and listening – observing, because that’s what I do now, this Cheryl who is not 23 anymore. Me, the mom of two small children, the writerly person who is seeped in sarcasm and spontaneous joy. I tried to find within me the desire to get up and dance like the rest, but it just wasn’t there anymore. The alcohol dulled my senses, and I think that was disturbing enough to keep me in my seat, maintaining tentative control over a foreign situation.
The effects of alcohol is an interesting study. To me, it felt like a slow snake venom through my veins. After the first drink, my cheeks went numb and showing expression took extra effort. My brain felt like it was sloshing about in my skull, and I seemed transparent to the crowd of rockers. They were a display of high-octane energy and enthusiasm, shared goodwill and willingness to scream along with the music. Most of the lyrics were seeped in the booze and drug-infused life of the rock and roll star and “living straight sucks” mentality, and near the end of the night, I craved sobriety more than I’ve craved anything before. I yearned for it, my drunken head ached for it.
I’ll go again for the people, for dialogues with people who aren’t in my everyday, diaper-changing, crayon-slinging life, people like Billie and Lacy who accepted so quickly for who I am. Friends made in a minute, all these people who came together for a night of communal fun and debauchery. That’s what I’ll go back for, time and time again, I’m sure.
I’ll be going again to see Freedown, Aaron Williams and the Hoodoo, and the amazing Scott Holt on October 10. This time, I’ll be bringing the husband, and I won’t be drinking. Honestly? I act more like the uninhibited rock and roll lover more when I’m sober, when I’m feeling a serendipitous burst of joy and energy at a funny quirk one of my kids exhibits, more like dancing when I’m in the kitchen in my socks with my hands soaking in soapy dishwater. I’m more likely to start headbanging when a particularly awesome song comes on the radio, and I turn my living room into a mosh pit with the kids.