Mr. Small’s Theater is an old church that’s been converted into a music venue, which is awesome since seeing Chiodos is basically, for me, like getting all hand-waving and tongue-speaking at a church service. They like, touch the genitals of my soul, or some shit.
All day last Wednesday, I was hiccuping butterflies and doing the anxiety pee dance. When Henry came home from work, I yanked his arm repeatedly and yelled, “AREN’T YOU SO EXCITED??” He answered me with a very adult-like frown and said, “Of course not.”
We arrived to the usual double-takes from scene kids loitering outside. Two old folks at the Chiodos show tend to be an anomoly, but I’ve learned to ignore it. It’s easier for me, because I only look marginally older than the rest of the crowd, but it’s also a little embarrassing because Henry looks like my chaperone. I should probably just start going by myself, but I do so love to torture Henry with high-decibel screamo.
Much to my dismay, A Voice Like Rhetoric was nearly finished by the time we arrived, thanks to Henry pissing around at the goddamn ATM down the street. They were the only other band on the bill that I had any desire to see, hometown pride and all. Wait, I don’t have hometown pride (suck one, Steelers). I guess I just wanted to see them because they’re actually good. Who knew.
Henry was happy to see that there was an area cordoned off for the over 21 set. Usually at the shows we go to, it’s all ages and Henry has nowhere to hide. Once the circle pit was officially shaped during Hit the Light’s set, Henry embraced his can of Pabst and took solace in the leftover church pew that protected him from the flailing fists and jutting legs of the aggro teens in front of us.
Someone’s sock landed softly on my right shoulder during Chiodos’ set. I’m pretty sure it was that blue-shirted dude’s. I suppose I could have stuffed it in my pocket to return to him post-show, instead of yelping and swatting it off into the garbage can that I was standing near. 0wellzorz, little scene dude. Send ye mommy to the sock store.
And then finally, after two hours of boring scene kid study (the lack of scene extremity in this particular crowd left me sad and unsatisfied – where was all the assymetrical hair, raccoon eyes, and Skelanimal hoodies?), Craig fucking Owens took the stage, arms spread like a crucified Jesus, bathed in blue light and I forgot all about lame Henry standing behind me and chugging his old man beer. I kept one eye open to make sure I didn’t get pummeled by any more sweaty socks or size 11 shoes. Violence is the only downside of these kinds of shows. You just don’t have to anticipate getting cold-cocked at a Xiu Xiu show.
During one song, Craig decided to make the crowd split down the middle and separate, leaving a wide open area in the middle for everyone to come crashing together on his signal. I was glad to be on the other side of the barrier, and felt sorry for the girl directly in front of me on the other side, who was scrambling to get out of the way. But really, who wouldn’t want to be crushed in a wall of teenaged aggression?? If I was a teenage boy, I’d have been out there. But instead I’m a sissy grown-up trying not to come home to my two-year-old with a bloody lip and ripped off ear.
You don’t even have to see their faces to deduce that the average age in attendance was sixteen. And you know what? I DON’T CARE. Chiodos makes me feel something much deeper than the shit played on the radio, the shit that grown-ups are “supposed” to listen to. And it just so happens that teenagers feel the same way. And I’m OK with that. It gives me something to talk about with Henry’s kid. I like music that makes me involuntarily weep, which I did that night during several songs. I kind of feel sad for the people who don’t get anything out of the music they listen to.
For an encore, they played “All Nereids Beware” which they said they haven’t played live in nearly three years. My legs quaked a little because this was the first song of their’s that I really latched on to three years ago. I remember hearing it and just knowing that this band was going to be really great. I just didn’t know then that they would end up meaning so much to me.
After the show, I hung around and waited for it to clear out a little before attempting to locate Henry, who had run off to the bathroom during the last song. The nerve. I was standing near an older woman who I had noticed several times throughout the night. She was in her forties probably, had the signature Mom coif, and was wearing slacks with sensible shoes. While I was standing there watching all the boys run around trying to retrieve their lost articles of clothing, the woman’s son had joined her and was talking excitedly about the show. “And did you see when Craig pointed out into the crowd, mom? He was pointing at ME because he saw me pointing at HIM.” He went on to give a breathy account of the night’s songs, and his mother stopped him at one point to say, “Yes, I really liked that one.” It made me smile all over, witnessing that. I also felt kind of perverted, because it was such a cool and intimate parent-kid moment, but it made me wish that I won’t lose this love for the scene, so that when Chooch is older, we can have the same sort of conversations.
Eventually, I waded through the pile of ripped out piercings, sweatbands and tears to rejoin Henry. As I was heading toward the door I realized Henry, of his own accord, was heading the opposite way. Toward the merch table. THE MERCH TABLE. The table from which he always tries to distract me, and now here he was, approaching it alone. Because of Henry’s bravery, I now own a Chiodos hoodie, FINALLY. I tried to get one last winter and it turned into the messiest mail order debacle I’ve ever been a part of. This one is ten times better than the one I was trying to get in the first place, thanks to Henry pissing around at the goddamn ATM down the street.