Who likes to rock the party?

I have been to relatively few concerts in my life.  Amongst the reasons:  crowds.

When I see vast swaths of humanity swaying together to Bono, I think:  Porta-potties.

In recent years I have been intrigued by the personal discovery that, if the mood is right, if the food is good, if the light falls graciously upon the moment… I do love the world.  Still, the world is a big place and I generally see little reason to gather everyone in the same room and sell them t-shirts.

And so I even surprised myself when Andy told me that “Flight of the Conchords” (pretty much my favorite show biz superstars) were set to play at the Hollywood Bowl and I spontaneously, yes spontaneously, declared:  “I’m in!”

I said that definitive “yes,” even knowing that it meant paying serious coin, dealing with parking and most of all crowds.

For those not familiar with Germaine and Brett, the concept is that they are musicians from New Zealand who have only one fan and essentially represent non-success.  They happen to be very funny, clever and talented musicians, but “art” is highly subjective and thus I could have easily imagined that I might be their lone second fan.

In fact, I wouldn’t even know about “Flight of the Conchords” at all if it weren’t for my intrepidly media-exploring younger kid, Will, who sniffs out the good stuff, even if it’s a long cancelled HBO show that only ran two seasons.

Conchord’s world tour just ended, in LA on Sunday night.  They had played all over Europe to sold-out houses, but in America it was only Berkeley and The Bowl.  Why is it that Europe grasps quirky New Zealand genius more fully than the States?  Or am I just living in the wrong country?  The answer to that turns out to be “No,” and the show helped me realize it.

Firstly, even though I felt suddenly sick in the car on the way to get our picnic dinner to take with us and eat in the lovely fading light of a Sunday evening, I breathed through it and reminded myself that this feeling of dread and sudden despair is just half of the way I roll.  I breathed in that good old Anam Cara love and breathed out my fear and desire (remembering that this simple exercise has allowed me to actually enjoy my vacations in recent years and even socializing).

Walking with the crowds, waiting in the lines, I told myself, “these people are ‘Flight of the Conchords’ fans, thus these are my people.”  I told myself that if we were on holiday in London or New York we would do the expensive, crowd-centric things, and thus it was nice to be in my own hometown and feeling like I was on holiday.  It also was like a note to self:  remember to really do and enjoy the things that are around us (fight the urge to nap and dread a future in poverty—look around and notice the many people just living life, often with less than you have).

Once seated in our box, my younger son complaining about his sandwich, I gazed around in a 360 and marveled that so many people would actually like something that I too liked.  Even though my older son is strongly crowd-averse (who knows where he got those genes and attitudes?) and Andy had remembered, in the context of lines and credit card snafus, why we don’t go to things like this very often, I suddenly felt atypically happy in the midst of a crowd, a strange sense that this was where we were supposed to be at that moment and that, at least at that pulsing moment in time, we had nothing to fear.

The crowd was refreshingly diverse in both cultural, racial and age terms.  I didn’t feel like the one old guy, nor did I feel like this was so lame because it’s only for middle-agers.

I was that fan who pretty much knew every song (from repeated viewings of the show, thanks to my DVD Christmas present).  I wasn’t the fan who needed to stand up and sway my arms wildly around the whole time, and yet I was glad that out of the mass of the Bowl this faction turned out to be only two people and their lone-fan dates (pointing absurdly at them as they raised the roof).  That’s the thing about the collective—it contains everything (and I could be grateful that even the annoying fan who needs the show to be about the show seeing them, was not sitting right next to me. Perfect.)

I cannot possibly convey the essence of why it was a great show—I guess it’s a “you had to be there” thing which is precisely why, for once, I felt like it was worth navigating the negatives that it takes to actually be there.

Sitting under the stars, I looked up to see the little dipper at the peak of the sky’s canopy—a metaphorical container… a sheltering and abundant sky, pouring some sort of blessing of laughter and a shared good time down on all of us as my forties hurled toward their end and, for all I know, the best summer ever is just getting started with this rock the party Memorial Day weekend.

After the show, as we slowly ebbed our way in a river of people back out to our car (parked in a “blocked-in, no refunds, $21” space), filing though a long low dark tunnel packed with people, I was able to remind myself, “these humans are my people,” and thus I didn’t feel that there would be an immanent stamped and thoughts of my children being trampled before my eyes hung there in relative harmony with the trust that all would be just fine, as a lone jazz-man played “Across the Universe”—musical ferry-man herding us like happy New Zealand sheep peacefully back toward our individual lives after a collective moment.

One of the central jokes of “Flight of the Conchords,” is that no one knows, or cares, who they are.  Yet, sitting with sixteen thousand fellow Angelenos who all love these guys who supposedly no one cares about warmed and gladdened a heart already full from laughing.  As far as parenting and family goes, this was a success because everyone had a good time and we were still smiling and thinking about it the next day.

So, let’s dedicate today to the mutual recognition that we all have talent, we all have ideas, wit, heart and the need for love and laughter—that we all care and are cared about.  I realize that many humans like to gather in big groups around mutually shared interests, but I also realize that even the subset of those who also like to rock the party… albeit on rare occasions, is itself a bigger crowd than I had imagined… and when we go virtual on that concept I get to stay home and rock the party—and have a nap.

Here’s to rocking the party, each in our own individual and quirky manner, and at the same time in the service of all our collective children.

Namaste, Bruce

From “Business Time”:

Aww Yeah

Girl tonight we’re gonna make love

You know how I know?

Because it’s Wednesday

And Wednesday night is the night that we usually make love

Monday night is my night to cook

Tuesday night we go and visit your mother

But Wednesday we make sweet little love…

Then in the bathroom brushing our teeth

That’s all part of the foreplay, i love foreplay

Then you go sort out the recycling

That isn’t part of the foreplay,

but it’s still very important

Next thing you know we’re in the bedroom

You’re wearin’ that baggy old ugly T-shirt you got from work several years ago

Mmmm, you know the one, baby

With the color stain


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10 Responses to “Who likes to rock the party?”

  1. Lindsey Says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more, Bruce, re: the tee shirts, crowds, and porta potties. I’ve been to very few concerts in my life. Seems like once in a while the positives outweigh the negatives, and that this was the case for you with the Conchords. Glad you went. I’ve watched them and laughed every single time.

  2. BigLittleWolf Says:

    I hadn’t heard of the Conchords. But then, I’m woefully uninformed on any music scene, despite two teens.

    This sounds like a wonderful night, and it’s always a victory to manage through the mass of humanity as it closes in – or seems to – for those of us who are challenged by crowds.

  3. Jenn Says:

    I LOVE the Conchords “Business socks–you know what that means!” genius! Good for you for ‘dealing.’ I have told my kids, and their friends, if we are at an event/movie that turned out less than fab–‘it’s the company and togetherness we experience, not all about where we went or what we did.’ OK so sometimes they roll their eyes, but they also agree that they always have fun together. Sounds like you were lucky–double bonus of enjoyment: event and family.

    • privilegeofparenting Says:

      Gotta love Wednesday in particular… because of business day. I’m with you on that togetherness idea (and I’ve seen my share of rolled eyes), but it sure is nice to get that lucky double bonus once in a while.

      Wishing you many a lucky double bonus… or if not, a little time with Bowie in Space 🙂

  4. Kelly Says:

    I love going to concerts, festivals, and shows and have been to hundreds in my lifetime. My husband, on the other hand, hates going grocery shopping because the crowds make him so claustrophobic. So I know of what you speak.

    I love that the Interwebz allow everyone to rock the party in their own unique, comfortable ways.

    • privilegeofparenting Says:

      And I like the yin and yang of your relationship where, over time, you give up some of the crowds for love of him while every now and again your husband might brave a crowd for love of you as well.

      Here’s to rocking the party across the spectrum.

  5. Katrina Kenison Says:

    So Bruce, who knew you were so funny?? I LOVE Business Time, but didn’t realize there was anything more to it than a YouTube single that I sent to my husband at work, telling him to close his door and get ready to laugh. Will have to check out the Conchords. Anyway, my man is crowd-averse and I’m porta-potty-phobic, so our kids have been woefully underserved in the Big Event department. Yet last summer we went to see Steely Dan, under the big tent, by the water–and it was just as you describe: the niggly, forgettable negatives were far outweighed by the great memories of that golden, magical night.

    • privilegeofparenting Says:

      OMG, Steely Dan is my other favorite (Aja mesmerized me as a seventeen-year-old and I go back to them again and again… in my car). I ALMOST even went to see them live last time they toured, but I was to get on a plane to Europe the next day and so I whimped out.

      You’re in for a real treat to see the Conchords’ whole series. BTW, thanks for saying I’m funny (my shrink insists that this is true but I pay him to tell me that, so besides Andy, you might the be third person to suggest as much).

      It is Wednesday, so I better run.

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