The line outside of the House of Blues was not very long and we were blessed to not be surrounded by roiling assholes. Alisha kept saying she felt old, but it seemed to be that there was a pretty good mix of ages out there. I’ve been to much younger shows so I felt like a big sister standing in this line, instead of a den mother.
Once the doors opened and our persons were checked for weaponry, we headed upstairs to the balcony. I’ve seen The Used enough times to not care too much about being close to the stage, and Alisha was still bummed about last year’s show at a shitty Pittsburgh venue where we could barely see the stage no matter where we stood. So the balcony seemed like the best bet for us.
I had a feeling I was going to dislike the opening band as soon as the curtain was drawn to reveal a set decorated with anarchy propaganda. And then Drive A bounded onto the stage and started playing stale punk anthems that knocked off old school Greenday and I was immediately in hell. I hate Greenday and therefore I hated Drive A. They had BORING stage presence too. The singer felt the need to explain what every song was about and all that accomplished was taking up more time.
After their set, two guys klutzed in front of us to claim the seats next to me. Instant entertainment. They appeared to be in their late 20s and the dorkier one was wearing slacks. The one immediately next to me spoke in a way that screamed Card Carrying Dork and seemed intent on talking loudly about all the chicks he’d fucked lately. Alisha was more annoyed than me and she wasn’t even sitting next to him. “He’s trying to impress you,” she kept saying.
When Atreyu came on, I would then learn that my new friend was a very skilled and thorough multi-air instrumentalist. He even fist-sung a few times. I was impressed for real at that point and was hoping I could be the next chick he had sex with in the back of his dad’s van.
Atreyu was boring. I swear I liked them once in my life, maybe when their first album was released? But they just weren’t holding my attention. I was freezing in that building, and was using Alisha’s coat as a blanket at that point. Rock shows should not leave a person cold.
I hated this broad. I’m not sure what it was about her: the fact that she and her boyfriend were seconds away from reproducing from the moment they sat down, her hair that I envied, or the cattiness I detected behind her eyes. I just sincerely couldn’t stand her. I laughed when her boyfriend rubbed her back protectively when Atreyu took the stage with a sound equivalent to 800 air horns going off at once.
It was during Atreyu when I first noticed the girl screaming behind me. I don’t mind loud noises when I’m at a show. That’s what shows are meant for – screaming and acting idiotic (to a degree; I don’t condone asshole-y behavior at shows). But this girl? My god the lungs on her. It sounded like a bag of babies screeching behind my head. I have never really been in a position to say that something was blood-curdling and mean it. But my blood was curdling all the way down to West Virginia. This was not an euphoric scream meant for shows; this was better reserved for expressing just how insanely painful it is when Leatherface nips your thigh with his chainsaw as you’re stumbling through trees in the the dark woods of Texas.
I fucking hated her and the way she made my left shoulder rise up to my ear, like she had it on a fucking string.
There was an incident in the crowd below, and one of the guitarists paused before starting the next song to ask the crowd to please help out the person who I imagine must have fallen. The singer of Atreyu very disinterestedly repeated, “Yeah, give him room. Security, get out there or something. OK the next song—” only to be interrupted again by the guitarist, who was pretty much refusing to continue the show until the person in need was helped.
I was kind of disgusted at that point, because the whole situation made the singer look like an insensitive prat and somewhere around that time I had also realized that from where I sat, he looked like Dunbar from the Real World: Sydney, so I double-hated him.
“I love how you have a talent for incorporating The Real World into your daily life,” Alisha said. At first, I thought she was being sarcastic but then I noticed she was shoving her Autograph pad at me.
When The Used came on, I was immediately overcome with mixed emotions. I so badly wanted to enjoy the show, but I couldn’t fight off the nostalgia; I felt really sad and frustrated and began to wonder if it was a good idea that I came at all. When I saw them last year, my friendship with Christina had ended (God only knows what do-over number that one was) and I was at a point where I had a lot of hate for her and the situation, so seeing The Used that time was like revenge in a way. Like, “Haha, this was our favorite band but I’m going to see them with someone else, you dumb bitch.” And it felt good, like a release.
But this time was different. I don’t have hate for her anymore. That has dissipated and left me with a very raw pain and an excruciating sense of betrayal and confusion. Being there in the House of Blues, especially when they played “Blue and Yellow,” it was like having our friendship play out in front of me, while being forced to drink kerosene.
I thought I was doing a good job keeping it together though, keeping my emotions in check. Until the very end, during the encore, when this drunk Napoleon with a God complex behind me started getting to me. I could feel my skin burning as my temper rose, and it’s a feeling I know all too well. I did not want to lose my shit there, and I kept repeating that to myself over and over until I found myself pre-rage blackout, twisting around and spitting Angry Girl ire in this fucking frat boy’s face. We exchanged heated words in a cloud of alcohol-fumes and profanity until his girlfriend (who I’m pretty sure was the murder-scream girl) begged him to shut up.
I don’t even want to get into it, really, because it doesn’t make me feel proud of myself. It doesn’t make me look “cool” or “hard.” It just makes me upset every time I replay the situation in my mind, which is something I did A LOT that night and the next morning and the next day and yesterday and right now. And it sucks. To work that hard to be a good sport, to try so hard to mind my temper, only to waste all that on some doucheknob who instigated a situation that didn’t even deserve a response from me, that wasn’t even directed solely AT me. But no, I was already so tense, so confused in my head, that I let a complete stranger get the best of me, and I’m not stupid – I know I was projected. He gave me an opportunity to unleash and I took it when I should have bit my tongue and walked away.
I wanted him to hit me. I honest to god wanted that guy to hit me. Just so I could feel pain on the outside instead of within.
Worst of all, it created a tiff between Alisha and me. She wasn’t mad, just worried that the situation was going to escalate and she wouldn’t be able to protect me if he got physical. So I stormed ahead and acted all angsty for a few minutes before realizing how stupid I must have looked. And we were good after that, but I fucking swear to god that really killed the night for me. I’ve spent all week being totally reflective about myself and the situation and my triggers, and it’s been exhausting. Just exhausting and traumatic. Perhaps that might be the last time I see The Used.
After getting lost after the show, we found an IHOP where the plastic cover to the toilet paper rolls in the bathroom stall opened up and fell onto my lap while I peed. (Bathroom: 3, Erin 0.)