Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Snow, Sharks, and Screaming My Heart Out

Panic! at the Disco at Lupo's in Providence, RI, October 29, 2011

This show started, like almost all Lupo's shows, with a gigantic line snaking around the block. It was pouring rain and the temperature was quickly dropping towards a point where that rain would turn into something else entirely. But then an awesome concert buddy showed up with coffee, and a good line friend returned. There was a discussion of past horrible line friends that, a year later, just made me laugh hysterically. ("As it turns out, 'Player' is bro-speak for 'has a girlfriend'." "Well then what's bro-speak for 'moved to Germany'?")

We finally got inside, only to be accosted by a security guard searching everyone for glow-sticks. I have no idea why, but this one security guard spent the entire night tracking down anyone in the crowd wearing glow-sticks. It was so ridiculous that we stopped a passing security dude later in the night to ask what was going on, and he shrugged and looked confused. We later saw him asking the glow-stick-hater about it, pantomiming in the onslaught of noise, but could not make out what the response was.

First up was The Tower and the Fool. It wasn't bad at first, rocky acoustic with alright lyrics, but then it quickly spiraled towards full on depression. It was past emo, into the "my heart is dead" region of lyric writing, and I spent the entire second half of the set wondering if they all just needed hugs. It was sad.

Now, at about this point, The Shark showed up. The Shark was a five foot tall, completely trashed girl in a felt shark costume. Face visible through the gaping shark teeth, hands covered in light gray fins, she was trying to barrel her way through the crowd. At every sticking point, she would turn to the offending body and scream "I'm a shark!" I'd never seen someone try to start a fight while holding up soft felt fins before. She was loud and screaming and actually really hitting some of the people around her. It was amusing for the first minute or so, but after ten, not so much. Finally some guy came and dragged her out of our portion of the crowd. We saw him later in the night supporting her slumped, obviously sharked-out body. It was ridiculous.

Foxy Shazam. I don't know what the hell that was. I can't even begin to think of how to describe the experience. I was simultaneously terrified and excited. The lead singer looked like a sex offender bull fighter, the keyboardist played with his feet, and the trumpet player spent the night in various states of undress. They were upside down and all over the stage and loud and crazy and... just and. It was kind of awesome. It was every decade that you've ever made fun of crushed into one. You just have to experience it to believe it. This, this doesn't even come close, but maybe it will help:


Then came Panic! at the Disco. We had grabbed spaces by the railing and I swear I spent most of the night with my body flung over it, clutching on and screaming out every word. There was so much energy in that room... new songs and old, everyone was throwing themselves into it. I got that feeling again, the one where I squeezed my eyes shut and gripped tighter around the banister, as though if I just held on tight enough I could stay in that moment forever, with lights flashing on the other side of my lids, bodies pressing in close, my head full of nothing but sound.

I remember old shows where Brendon would move the mic away whenever the song swore, make the crowd fill in. That is no longer the case. Sometime after the split, his dirty mouth found a place on the stage, and it makes for this predatory stage presence. It's mostly sexy but also a little funny, because you know he can't really be taking himself seriously the whole time. It was, however, during "I Write Sins" that I felt something bad happen. The whole crowd was singing out, but out of instinct everyone screams just a little louder on the "whore" that Brendon used to always drop. That's when I felt something in my throat tear or rip or snap. Two days later and it's still not quite happy, especially after a second concert the following night (but more on that in another post).

But was it worth it in that moment? Absolutely.

Their encore included a cover of "I Believe in a Thing Called Love." I love that song, and they did it well, and no way was the girl trying to crowd surf by jumping off of our banister going to prevent me from continuing to enjoy it. Though, fun fact kids, you shouldn't crowd surf on teenage girls. They will always drop you. Always.

The show ended, I parted ways with the concert buddies, and then I wound up in the epic October snowstorm. Being a New Englander, I decided that a little snow was not going to deter me, and that I was going to drive straight through it back to Boston.

After about a mile on 95, I shut the radio off and started talking to my car, God, and myself, assuming that some combination of the three might get me at least to my parents house in one piece. It was the worst thing I have ever driven in and I have never been so terrified while driving. I've driven in snowstorms, driven in really awful weather, but this was out of the blue, two months early, and ridiculous. I couldn't see the lines on the road, the wind was threatening to blow me sideways, and my wipers kept freezing over and smearing the little vision that I had.

But was it worth it for that show? Absolutely.

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