This story was published October 10, 2005 in The Cavalier Daily, U.Va.’s student newspaper.
I’ve been to a lot of concerts in my time. I’ve seen big bands, little bands, good bands, bad bands, rubber bands — you name it, I’ve had that experience.
And while it wasn’t the most fantastic show I’ve ever witnessed, The Rolling Stones concert is something I won’t forget for a long time.
It all began with a press pass. Cav Daily photographer extraordinaire, Laura Michael, and I started our journey by trekking to the stadium. There were rivers of people streaming in from all directions; I kind of felt like a white blood cell in a vein.
When we arrived at the ticket pick-up place, we were separated immediately. Laura went straight to the front lines — she was so close to the stage that she was told to turn around when the pyrotechnics went off so that her eyebrows wouldn’t be singed. I told her to face forward and let them sizzle a little. Now wouldn’t that be a story to tell the grandkids.
But the real stories came when the army-green Rolling Stones van hurtled by me, into the underbelly of Scott Stadium. I was there to watch as the Stones stumbled out of the car. I was there to high-five Mick Jagger as he made his way backstage. Thirty seconds later, I was there to run to the bathroom screaming for antiseptic. (True story.)
And then things really got zany. I was handed my ticket and sent on my way. As I pushed through the crowds of people (still feeling like a blood cell, mind you), I got increasingly more nervous. As a small-town girl, being isolated in a crowd of 50,000+ people is not exactly in my sphere of experience. My comfort zone extends out to encompass about three people and a sheep. I can do a sheep and a half on a good day.
As expected, I got lost. It didn’t help that when they tore my ticket, they ripped off some of the important information — namely, the bit that said I had field seating. No wonder I couldn’t find my row in the stadium.
Here’s a trick I learned from my small-town life: If you look friendly and helpless enough, at some point or another, an old man will stop to help you.
Luckily enough, this particular old man was one of the seating guys. Our conversation went a little something like this:
“You look very excited,” he said.
“Actually, I’m kind of lost.”
“Well, I guess I’m all the way lost.”
“That’s just about the same thing as being excited, isn’t it?”
“Umm, can you help me find my seat?”
“I certainly can, little miss.”
I’ve never been called “little miss” in my life. It was like talking to an imaginary grandfather. I half-expected him to slip me a Werther’s Original and ask if I had a boyfriend yet.
To my great surprise, my free press pass was for a seat on the field, three rows from the stage. Not bad, considering the couple behind me paid more than $700 for their two tickets.
So there I sat, in the midst of old-people affluence and young-people ignorance (admit it, you didn’t actually know the words to most of the songs). I was counting the veins in Mick Jagger’s neck from 100 yards away, mashed between a guy who kept talking about the weed at Woodstock and another guy with heroin tracks on his arms. During one exciting moment, Heroin Guy scratched a scab off his arm and blood started spurting on me.
I am not lying. I’m not even exaggerating. It wasn’t a trickle, or a small stream or even a flood. It was a geyser! There is still a glob of it on my jeans, which I have placed in a biohazard bag and left on my balcony. It’s like they always say: You never know how health-paranoid you are until you go to a Stones concert.
The band took the stage, and they were looking pretty good (for cadavers). Never mind the fact that their legs were as skinny as the necks of their guitars. Never mind the fact that with each pelvic rotation I was worried that Jagger would thrust a hip out of place. I found myself wondering if they did limbering up exercises during the breaks between songs. Perhaps they had a store of Ensure backstage. I mean, a guy’s gotta get his calcium somehow.
My section was evacuated during The Bomb Threat, or The Bomb Diggity, as I like to call it. We filed to the back of the stadium, where we were protected by the masses of Port-A-Johns that stood solidly in front of us. Then, about an hour later, we filed back to our seats and the band started again.
I enjoyed the music and the crowd and the costume changes. Thank goodness there were no wardrobe malfunctions or dislocated limbs as Jagger shimmied out of one sparkly jacket into another. When each new top was revealed, “Heroin Guy” muttered, “Oh, God,” but I found myself thinking more along the lines of, “Oh, gaudy.”
Still, I was digging it. So what if The Stones wore Hot Topic-esque studded belts? I don’t mind temporarily losing my sight due to the blinding glare from the light on their sequined hats. The Stones put on a good show. I liked watching Mick prance around on the stage. (Man, does that guy have a wack-ass walk. I wonder what he looks like hurrying through an airport.)
I do wish that the blow-up tongue could have stayed around a little longer, that Keith Richards would have actually exhibited some personality, and honestly, I missed seeing CavMan on the ‘Tron, but for the most part, I was a happy customer. I got some satisfaction.
Granted, after the break, they didn’t all start the song at exactly the same time, but eventually everybody in the band got into it. They weren’t playing the notes in exactly the same rhythm, but everybody was playing something. And I wasn’t mouthing exactly the right words, but I – and everybody else in the crowd — was singing something. And The Stones are probably too senile to tell the difference anyway.