For a brief period of time, way back in the day, I was talking to some guy I used to work with. You know. “Talking.” He was supposed to come over one night, and I had recently scored a new Cure bootleg video (literally on VHS, this was a while ago), so I suggested that we could watch this damn thing together. He made a slew of disparaging comments about the Cure, about how he would rather watch dogs eat their own shit, about how much that band sucked, about how “faggy” they were, and I could actually hear my heart breaking in my ears.
Followed quickly by the sound of the door slamming on this asshole’s opportunity. I just couldn’t imagine being with someone who didn’t like The Cure, or who could at least respect my staunch devotion to them. (Not to mention someone who calls things “faggy”? Ew no.)
And thank god I didn’t give that guy a second chance, because then I met Henry (at the same job! I was such an office ho!) and do you know what the first thing is that Henry ever did for me, way before we even started dating? He made me a screensaver of all of the Cure’s album covers.
That is a fucking good man.
Back then I probably said he was wife material, too, but clearly that material is full of holes.
What is: Cheese cloth.
What is: A handkerchief in some person’s pocket in a coffin underground.
All of this is to say that when The Cure announced their hugely anticipated North American tour last fall, Henry didn’t even question it when I said, “Well, there’s no Pittsburgh date as usual, but we could go to the Columbia, Maryland one…?”
“Buy the tickets when they go on sale,” he said with NO HESITATION.
BECAUSE IT’S THE CURE. And Henry loves me, you guys. Duh.
I sat at the computer and waited for the clock to tick down and then I bought two tickets on the ASAP. Of course with all the presales and ticket reselling schemes out there, every last spot under the pavilion was taken, so I had to be satisfied with lawn seats. And honestly, this being my 6th Cure show, I was content that we were even going at all. Traveling for shows is expensive and we are not rich people. SHOCKER. Plus, we were pretty close to the front two years ago when they headlined Riot Fest so it was fine.
We left Chooch at home with Judy and set off for Maryland around 9:30am. I was acutely aware that my left contact was jacked up, but you have to understand the tolerance I have built over the years to eye woes. I figured the discomfort would eventually just fade into the background, and then I proceeded to just up my blinking quota during the car ride.
The drive down there was pretty uneventful and quick, by the way. I didn’t even live blog because I was too busy listening to the same Pierce the Veil song over and over, psychoanalyzing it, and feeling depressed. That’s just what I do. Also, I bought a ticket to see PVRIS the moment they went on sale, which was a lot less stressful since it’s just general admission at the Altar Bar. And then we ate at some shitty country cookin’ diner thing on the side of the road, because I was off my game and let Henry choose the lunch spot.
I went in the bathroom there and jiggled my contact around a bit, because sometimes that helps. In this case though, it still felt like someone was applying slight pressure to my eyeball with the tip of the long-nailed finger. So, normal.
We arrived at our Extended Stay hotel thing around 4 and I got angry because GPS said something about taking the third right at the traffic circle. “IT’S A ROUNDABOUT!” I cried petulantly. “EVERYONE IN AUSTRALIA KNOWS THAT!”
Henry muttered something about this being America and in America, “we” call them traffic circles and I’m like, how about not lumping me in there with all you “we”s, thanks. And then I loudly counted down the rights so that Henry would know which one to turn off on, thereby fulfilling my co-pilot duties.
If I had liveblogged that day, it would be a lot of “AND THEN”s because I was pretty fucking happy.
After sufficiently complaining about our hotel room (because that’s my other duty – reminding Henry that nothing he does is good enough for me), Henry fed me a candy bar (Hershey with almonds if you need this for the case study), and then it was finally time to leave for the Merriweather Ampitheater.
One good thing about Henry is that he booked our room months and months in advance. It was the closest hotel to the venue and completely sold out. The lady at the desk even asked if we were there for the Cure concert, because duh. This happened right before Henry denied ogling some yuppie bitch who was walking two Pomeranian dogs.
It didn’t take us long to get to the venue at all, maybe 15 minutes tops. I was too busy hyperventilating and saying, “Ohmygodohmygodohmygod” incessantly to properly keep an eye on the time. Sorry for the inaccurate journalism!
Henry and I had a brief feud before getting out of the car because he didn’t bring a blanket from home and had to buy a blanket from a Target near our hotel and it was sooooo ugly (brown plaid and fuzzy, ew) so first I was like, “I WILL NOT BE SEEN WITH THAT ATROCITY, LEAVE IT IN THE CAR!” I mean, plus it stunk of plastic because he had just unzipped it from the stupid vinyl package it was all cubed-up in.
Not surprising, Henry didn’t bother to fight with me. He knows not to fuck with me when I’m in an emotional fragile Cure-related state. So we left the blanket in the backseat and wove our way through the gravel parking lot to the end of the line. We got there about 45 minutes before the gates open, I would say, and in no time, the line behind us had grown so long that we could no longer see the end.
I spotted someone in line nearby carrying a blanket in the same bracket of ugliness as the one that Henry had purchased. So I succumbed to the Ugly Blanket Squad and told him he could go back to the car and get the motherfucking poop-colored blanket. Whatever. This isn’t the blanket prom, is what my dad would have said if he had been there.
I could only see the first 30 or so people in front of us, because then the line snaked down and around into a forested area. It was making me nervous not knowing how far back we were.
People-watching was splendid and helped pass the time. There were OG Goths, neo-goths, yuppies, hippies, hipsters, Henrys — people of all walks of life had converged upon Merriweather all for the same reason: to bow down before the Cure. Two guys behind me did nothing but quote from Pitchfork the whole time, while the two dads and their respective young-teen sons talked dryly about sports.
Hockey came up.
I inched in closer.
“Yeah, his mom is a huge hockey fan,” the one dad said to the other. “Her favorite team is the Flyers, and then the Penguins.”
I was bouncing on my toes by this point while Henry was giving me the “KEEP IT ZIPPED” look.
“Oh, well she must be happy. The Penguins won the whole thing,” the other dad said and I was SQUEALING now, about to raise my hand and do the whole, “OOOH! OOOOH!” thing that I do when I’m desperate to add to a conversation that does not belong to me.
Henry, that motherfucker, actually grabbed me by the elbow and pulled me back!
I hate small talk EXCEPT when it’s about music or hockey, or if I overhear incorrect information and feel like I could die if I don’t set the universe straight with my infinite wisdom.
But apparently this is “annoying” and Henry doesn’t like to be a witness…or an associate.
The opening of the gates was pretty prompt and we were inside in no time at all. There are several entrances and parking lots and there were less people in front of us than I guessed. We were able to snag a prime piece of real estate very close to where the pavilion seats ended and the lawn started, and I let go of all my high expectations of having the perfect, unobstructed view and instead just enjoyed being there. Sometimes you really gotta just let go.
Henry bought me some kind of beer that he figured I would be able to drink without wasting — Shocktop maybe? I’m still trying to become a beer person but I’m just unapologetically picky. Don’t fuck with my palate. I managed to drink two whole beers! Each one cost less than my $10 pizza, which was actually pretty good but NOT ENOUGH.
“For $10, it’s gonna have to be,” Henry frowned before going off to buy some gross sausage in a bun atrocity for himself.
The fact that you can barely see my left eye in this photo is FORESHADOWING.
The lawn was really starting to fill up and so far, I didn’t find a single person I hated. I wasn’t too startled by this revelation though because Cure crowds have historically been some of the kindest and most fun I’ve ever been in the middle of.
EXCEPT: Coachella 2004. Worst crowd ever. A bunch of rich frat boys screaming “FAT BOB!” and booing when anything other than a radio single was performed. Welcome to America, Robert. Welcome to America, indeed.
Just then, two middle-aged men tossed down two seat cushions in the small section of lawn available between the two couples in front of me.
“And DOWN!” the one announced loudly and jovially as he plopped himself onto the cushion, beer sloshing all around. He looked at us and laughed, but I gave Henry the “I hate this guy” look. When the two women whose blanket they sat down next to came back from getting beer, I thought for sure they were going to be all, “OH HELL NO” but instead, the one lady was like, “LET’S BE FRIENDS” and then everything was happening so fast before my eyes.
Henry went to get more beer, leaving me alone to stew in my depressing solitude while everyone around me was carrying on with each other and making friends with new people, and ugh just ugh. Never was there a more apropos moment for Robert to come on stage and sing, “Why Can’t I Be You.”
(But he should have.)
So now the people in front of me were introducing themselves. The one who had yelled, “DOWN!” told the two ladies that they were from Pittsburgh.
PITTSBURGH? I’M FROM PITTSBURGH!
I tapped him on the back and was all, “Hey guy, I couldn’t help but overhear you say you’re from Pittsburgh. We’re from Pittsburgh too,” I said in that weird 1920s radio DJ syncopated voice I get when I’m no longer Erin but some weird caricature of a person with a sturdy societal footing.
And that’s when Henry returned to his ugly blanket and found that his girlfriend had made new friends with the boisterous men in front of them. (I never talked to the broads though. Once I heard the one lady say that she was heartbroken that the Penguins won the Stanley Cup, I knew I had nothing left to say to her, except for SUCK IT.)
(J/K, she and her sister seemed like fine ladies.)
Randy was my favorite of the two guys. I can’t remember his friend’s name. He was nice too, but not as hilarious as Randy. I can’t explain it, you guys would have had to have been there.
You know how it is.
The Twilight Sad came out sometime around 7:00. I was already familiar with them and interested to hear them live for the first time. And I mean, they were wonderful, but it’s hard to give a shit about an opening band when you know, and they know, and everyone knows that The Cure is back there somewhere, pretending to jump rope, touching up that blood red lipstick, sipping a spot of tea.
So I can’t say anything other than, “The Twilight Sad seemed good.”
I ran to the bathroom afterward, while there was still a bit of sunshine left. I was immediately cold-cocked by the essence of patchouli and clove.
And it just felt right.
As I washed my hands, I inspected my eye in the mirror. There didn’t appear to be a dagger or any such spiny specimen jutting from it, contrary to how it felt. So I gave it one good, aggressive rub (What Not To Do To Your Eye 101) and stumbled my way back to our blanket, which was now one of many in a sea of throws.
Sold out show, y’all.
As soon as the opening notes of Tape wafted into the air, my face was wet with tears. It doesn’t matter how many times I have seen this band, they make my heart feel so full and I even if I tried, I couldn’t hold back my emotions. I get all snively and trembly and the tears just flow freely – this who I am.
Aside from the three Instavids above and few Snaps that my brother requested, I didn’t fuck around with recording or taking pictures, because it’s the Cure and I needed to let every last second get into my pores, you know what I mean? Henry even gave me some “there-there” pats a few times.
He gets it.
He didn’t need to see my face to know it was slick with tears, mascara, and whatever poison was seeping out of my left eyeball.
You’d think that all the crying would have washed out whatever was in there, scraping my cornea, but instead it just started burning even more. The joy and amazement of standing before The Cure made it easier to shrug off, though. It was going to take a lot more than an eyeball malady to get me to leave this show early.
Tape / Open, High, Pictures of You, Closedown, Kyoto Song, A Night Like This, The Walk, The End of the World, Lovesong, If Only Tonight We Could Sleep, All I Want, Push, In Between Days, Just Like Heaven, Bananafishbones, Never Enough, From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea, End
1st encore: Sinking, It Can Never Be The Same
2nd encore: Shake Dog Shake, Burn, A Forest
3rd encore: Dressing Up, Lullaby, Fascination Street, Wrong Number
4th encore: Hot Hot Hot, Let’s Go To Bed, Close To Me, Why Can’t I Be You?, Boys Don’t Cry
I have never heard “Burn” live before so I was freaking the fuck out for sure. FREAKING THE FUCK OUT.
It’s unreal to me how solid this band sounds after all of these years. How they can get out there night after night, play for three hours with just as much if not more energy as bands 30 years younger. These guys are living legends, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame can keep snubbing them all they want because there are millions of screaming fans who know just how brilliant and incomparable they are.
When you can get even someone unmoved and unaffected as Henry J. Robbins to stand for the entirety of your show and also APPLAUD after every song? That’s how you know you’re frizzled hair, shoegazing perfection.
Little Cure fan. <3
Robert seemed to be in very good spirits too, chattier than I have ever seen him, and still breaking out his adorable little goth moves during “Lullaby.” However, he did get choked up during a new song, “It Can Never Be the Same,” which rumor has it is about his mother who passed away last year. When the song ended, he said something along the lines of, “The last song is a new one…. haven’t quite… haven’t learned how to hold back….so…”
He is a motherfucking god. No one will ever replace him in my heart.
As soon as we got back to the hotel, I raced to the bathroom and plucked the contact off my eye, which exacerbated the pain. Now it was like my eyeball was in labor with a hatchet-coated fireball. A thicket of natty homeless person pubes. A briar patch of all the human bones found in Jeffrey Dahmer’s apartment.
My eye was so red that it looked like it was bleeding, like it had been CHEESE GRATED. Tears were squirting out left and right, like some completely crude, X-rated, optic money shot.
“I CAN’T KEEP MY EYE OPEN!” I wailed, flapping my hands and hopping from one foot to the other.
I was panic-stricken, screaming about having to go to the hospital; but instead, Henry calmly went out and got me eye drops. I had cried myself to sleep while he was gone, but don’t worry! I woke up in the middle of the night and as soon as I realized that it wasn’t just a nightmare and that there were still flames licking the inside of my eyelid, I started screaming. Henry woke up and secretly pretended he was killing me when he held my head down against the pillow and put the drops in my eye.
In the morning, it still hurt and I felt like a vampire, screaming about the sunlight. As the day wore on, I was mostly OK again, though my eyelid was slightly puffy and I wasn’t even about to try to put my contact back in for the next two days. So I went about life squinting and walking with my arms outstretched. One-contact-wearin’ Erin.
But none of that was enough to tarnish the beautiful memories of the night before. Le sigh.