Monday, March 21, 2011

wa do dem


im going to write a series of post about concerts ive been to. this is the first one, hopefully they will get better.

i dont know which concert to start at so ill just start at the first one i remember going to. i was a senior in high school. most kids had already been to concerts, or at least all the friends i went with said they had, so i guess im a late bloomer in that regard.

my brother had just gotten his first car. a silver nissan maxima. he'd only had it for two days, this was our first outing. it was a good three or four years old yet still looked pretty brand new. the stock stereo had a decent rumbling bass and the windows and seats were electric. there was a moon roof and the back window was tinted. it was a four door, which meant i didnt have to fold myself too tightly in order to get into the back seat. not like i ever would have, since he was my brother i had a lock on the shotgun side.

we were already heavy stoners but none of us drank that much. its a lot easier to buy weed than it is alcohol, so we stuck with the vices that were afforded us without trouble. at the time we were hanging around these two guys, jimmy and JT, that were big into reggae music. in fact, most of our friends were into reggae music in some capacity or another, but these two guys had a deeper knowledge than most. they were the ones that bought all the old classic riddems to us. the early yodel of barington levy, the modern dancehall of buju banton, the merciless bass lines of classic roots and dub. we were young and of the idea that the more me smoked the more we connected with the music. perhaps this is true. either way, the first show we went to was a reggae gig.

it was in berkeley at a small venue not far from the college. the artist was eek-a-mouse. i was vaguely familiar with his music but liked what i had heard. we all piled into the silver maxima and put on one of his tapes and vibed on the freeway on the way to the show. we almost got in an accident while making an ill-advised turn into the fast lane and everyones heart skipped for a second, then we just laughed again and turned up the music until the speakers began to rattle and opened up the moonroof and let the early summer night pour in.

i forget how much the tickets were, under twenty bucks im sure. the place was small and packed and i had the skeptical feeling that eek-a-mouse wouldnt show up. im not sure why, id never been to a concert and i suppose i just felt it was too good to be true. he was suppose to fly in from jamaica, how could they afford that? why would he come and perform for us? for such a young, sweaty, unknowing crowd. he was a legend. a man with classic under his belt. i was sure at any moment the DJ would announce he didnt make it and we would all go home, frustrated but accepting and happy we at least made the trip.

finally he came on stage. i was nervous and excited and the butterflies in my stomach were big and wild. he was taller than i imagined, at least six foot seven. and had this lanky, rhythmic way about him. he swayed on the stage as if it was a boat at sea. nothing else but him and a microphone, not even a stand. everyone new all his songs and sang along and i just smiled and stared and tried to catch the meter and chant with them all. smoke hung above us all in a thick cloud and someone passed me a joint and i took it without question. the crowd were mostly white college aged kids in big t-shirts and baggy pants. there were only two or three people there that looked truly jamaican and i assumed they had come with eek-a-mouse. they had weathered faces with a sheen of sweat and from their lips hung long, fat joints that they just sucked at without flinching.

when he finally did a song i recognized i almost burst with enthusiasm. i sang along and tried my hand at skanking—the loose form of dancing popular at reggae concerts—and took every joint passed to me and chugged water from a bottle, letting it fall from the sides of my mouth and down my neck. i didnt know where any of my friends were and i didnt care. i was lost in the heat and the rhythm and the smoke falling between us. when he did his encore, a song i didnt recognize but that was a classic nonetheless, i pogoed a little in the crowd, letting my body flop against others and beaming unconsciously. after he left the stage i stood, mesmerized by the thinning crowd and taking deep breaths, trying to inhale it all.

outside i met my brother and the rest of them and we all stumbled to the car swapping stories and individual adventures that the night had given. jimmy had seen a guy getting a blowjob outside as he left. JT had rolled a perfect joint with one hand and shared it with one of the hulking jamaican dudes. my brother had gotten a free drink from a drunken girl who looked like she was about to vomit. i had experienced my first concert.

i dont remember getting home, but we made it because here i am. it was just the first of many concerts we would go to, most of them transported by that silver maxima, and hardly the best one. at the time though, for the first, it was a gentle and satisfying experience. a nice popping of my cherry.

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:gray matters: by jkg is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at downtownalleys.blogspot.com.