Apr 21

Robert Smith Tribute: The Cure Pilgrimage, repost

(Reposted from May 23rd, 2008)

IV: Pre-Show

In the 3.5 miles it took us to travel across the Walt Whitman Bridge back into Philadelphia and parked the car at the Wachovia Spectrum, I managed to spend $14: $3 to cross that scary-ass too-big bridge and ELEVEN DOLLARS TO PARK. I’m used to shows at small clubs, where you park on a fucking curb for free, so I felt physically ravaged after that.

There wasn’t so much of a line outside of the arena, but more like relaxed huddles of people waiting for the doors to open. We only had to wait for about 10-15 minutes before they started letting people in, and we occupied our time by people-funnin’ and inhaling clouds of clove-smoke drifting around our faces.

“There’s a lot of old people here,” Corey noted, staring dead-on at two aging goth women swaying on the edge of the steps. Too much Absinthe perhaps.

Corey and I both really took a liking to a young man in tight red pants. I liked him because when he smiled, he looked like Timmy from Fairly Odd Parents.

Tickets scanned and hips bruised on the turnstiles, we ran straight for the merch table, where I bought a bright pink shirt and joked that our motel room only cost $13 more than it. Corey almost bought a girl shirt so I made fun of him for way longer than acceptable.

After we got situated in our seats, the real fun began. We scoped out the fans around us and Corey pointed out that we were surrounded by an alarming amount of crimson-locked women. He gave them names like Ginger and Big Red and dramatically announced their movements.

“Ginger just got up! I wonder if she’s getting nachos?” We could only hope.

My personal favorite was the Asian man who sat down a few rows below us with a large, drooping hot dog. I fixated on him for a long time, laughing so hard I was wheezing.

“Asian Hot Dog is getting up!” I yelled, hand on my heart. Corey and I silently followed him with our eyes, snickering inappropriately. That’s when I noticed his face was constricted in awkward spasms and his tongue seemed to wag uncontrollably.

“I think there’s something wrong with him,” Corey whispered, and we sat quietly in shame. But I wasn’t too ashamed to take his picture when he returned with some sort of food product wrapped in foil.

A young couple found their seats in the row below us and Corey was entranced. “I want them to be our friends so bad!” he enthused. So I named the girl Margot and he named the man Jean-Paul. A few minutes later, Jean-Paul turned to us to make sure he had the right section and I could feel Corey cheering internally.

Corey really liked his shirt. They sat motionless through the entire show.

V: The Show

Sometime after 7:00pm, 65DaysofStatic emerged and treated us to a thirty minute set of top-notch post rock. I won’t lie — I was moved to tears a minute into the inaugural song. I have a penchant for post rock.

“Is there a reason they’re not singing?” Corey shouted in my ear. I had to explain to him the concept of post rock, something that I’ve grown used to. A man behind us was unable to contain his disgust for lack of vocals. “Maybe the singer forgot to show up,” he scoffed sarcastically. There always has to be that one person with something shitty to say. Just enjoy the music, douche! It’s fucking incredible.

By the time they left the stage, Corey had decided he was a fan of post rock.

A fire in the pit of my stomach ignited for the yuppie couple sitting next to Corey. Every time their tight yuppie asses rose from their seats, they hovered over top of us, imploring us with their dead yuppie eyes to let them through. The woman part of the yuppie-parade had a short black hair helmet, greased securely into a side-part. Before the Cure came on, I embarked on a spy-cam mission, pretending to take cutesy sibling love pictures of Corey to paste in my high school locker.

“Alright you two, hand the camera over,” an older man behind us demanded. My face flushed slightly, thinking I had been busted taking asshole-y pictures of strangers. “Let me get a picture of you two!” Oh. I handed him the camera, initiating the most awkward minute of the entire trip.

“Put your faces closer!” he insisted, but since we were turning around in our seats for the photo-op, it was a difficult maneuver.

“I can’t, my neck is going to snap!” Corey whined.

The worst part for me was that people around us were intently taking it in like a circus side show, as if I don’t hate having my picture taken enough as it is. Great, now my misery is a spectator sport. And then the picture barely turned out anyway because we still had the flash off from when I was taking secret pictures.

Shortly after 8:00, the lights went out and into music ricocheted all throughout the arena. One by one, the Cure walked out and when Robert strapped on his guitar, every voice in my mind quieted and my breath caught in my throat. Dude, it’s the fucking CURE.

Appropriately, they started with “Open” and I’m pretty sure I didn’t breathe once through the entire song. From there, they presented us with a three hour orchestral buffet of new and old, pop and gloom. I stole occasional glances at Corey, who was in the throes of having his Cure cherry popped, and his face was smothered with a look of awe.

The Cure had an amazing energy that night. This was my first time seeing Porl, now that he’s back in the line up, and I laughed every time he treated us to cutesy little dances and circle-skips. Simon has more stamina than most bass players half his age. Jason is a king atop his drum kit throne, and Robert continues to make me die. At one point, between songs, he sheepishly said, “I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing up here.” You’re touching lives, dude, that’s what you’re doing up there. And having fun.

It’s amazing how no matter how much time passes, each song still takes me back to different times in my life. “Kyoto Song” plays and I’m buying a plane ticket for Australia. The opening notes of “If Only Tonight We Could Sleep” waft from the speakers and I’m laying on floor pillows in my living room, crying into a glass of black cherry Manischewitz. Robert sings “Maybe Someday” and I’m thinking of killing myself on St. Patrick’s Day in 2000, but decide to have a party instead. I’m looking for bus fare so I can run away in tenth grade, “A Strange Day” indeed.

Below me was a woman who was dancing for Jesus. You know the dancing I’m talking about:  the person is so wrought with the Holy Spirit that they’re moved to rock and sway like listening to someone singing the Bible atop an orchestra of bongo beats and sinner flagellations. You see this in Jesus camp all the time. ALL THE TIME. Sometimes they take their shoes off, too. Her husband remained in his seat the entire night, passing her fresh beers and sticking out one strong arm to catch her when she began to fall at the end of the night.

Toward the end of the main set, “Just Like Heaven” was played, and Jean-Paul turned excitedly to Margot. They shared a brief moment of giddiness and I thought they’d rise from their seats, but then they turned back to the stage and continued emulating statues. But one row in front of them, the yuppiest man ever to attend a rock show stood up, ran his hands down the pleats of his khaki shorts, and took the hand of his blond bobbed female companion; together the two of them rocked moves that I imagine are stored safely for really special occasions, like a Michael McDonald show on a cruise ship. The man kept his eyes closed, head back slightly, and pursed his lips like a duck, while the woman did a really disjointed hip-rock paired with car-driving arm movements. Corey kept calling her SpeedRacer. Could not take eyes off her.

The highlight for me was during the first encore, when they pulled out the big guns with “The Kiss.” That song is like the most violently intense hate sex you can imagine, stuffed into a cannon and left to roil like a cat in heat, until Robert finally shouts into the mic and all that hate and fucking and frustration explodes and you have strong desires to punch the fat Goth woman simmering in Patchouli next to you.

“From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea” was amazing as usual, and I made sure to check if Corey was putting his hands in the sky upon Robert’s command. He wasn’t so I lifted his arm up by the sleeve and all was made right. I can never get Henry to abide.

The third encore was dubbed “Old School Encore” and it knocked the wind out of me. Seven straight classic Cure songs, hold me back. It was like the BMW at the end of the Sweet Sixteen party.

This was my fourth time seeing them and they still made it feel like the first time. There are not enough superlatives in the dictionary to properly convey how extraordinary this band is, and somehow after twenty+ years of doing their thing, they still manage to bring it, and bring it hard. They are the true definition of serious business. As we walked back to the car after the Cure reached the venue’s curfew, I could still feel them pulsing in my veins.

  • Open
  • Fascination Street
  • A Strange Day
  • alt.end
  • The Walk
  • End of the World
  • Lovesong
  • Kyoto Song
  • Pictures of You
  • Lullaby
  • Maybe Someday
  • The Perfect Boy
  • From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea
  • The Only One
  • Push
  • How Beautiful You Are
  • Inbetween Days
  • Just Like Heaven
  • Primary
  • Never Enough
  • Wrong Number
  • One Hundred Years, End 1st encore:   If Only Tonight We Could Sleep, The Kiss
    2nd encore:  Freakshow, Close To Me, Why Can’t I Be You?
    3rd encore:  Three Imaginary Boys, Fire In Cairo, Boys Don’t Cry, Jumping Someone Else’s Train, Grinding Halt, 10:15 Saturday Night, Killing An Arab


[Part 1][Part 2][Part 4]


6 Comments so far

  1. Lisa April 21st, 2010 11:42 pm

    Great recap of an awesome concert! I was at the same one and it was indeed glorious. Happy birthday, Robert Smith.

  2. Tuna Tar-Tart April 23rd, 2010 10:15 am

    Oh that’s so cool you were there too! Isn’t it incredible the energy they have? I’ve watched bands half their age, play for 1/3 of the time the Cure plays, and not have nearly that much stage presence and stamina.

  3. Alyson Hell April 30th, 2010 11:14 am

    This post made me Tolhurst all over again, especially the yuppie couple dancing. And the nachos.

    Thinking of The Cure always makes me think of Amanda Palmer. If you’re familiar with her, what do you think of her?

  4. Tuna Tar-Tart April 30th, 2010 7:42 pm

    You know, I never really got into Dresden Dolls/Amanda Palmer. My opinion is very neutral, I guess!

  5. Jessi May 5th, 2010 4:02 pm

    As I read I find myself wondering what your idea of acceptable concert behavior is exactly. What do you do while listening, do you stand, sit, wiggle to the music? I’m all for people watching but fear that your post will make me be far more self conscious about impressions I give to on-lookers the next time I am rocking out.

  6. Tuna Tar-Tart May 5th, 2010 4:53 pm

    It depends on a lot of different things: what type of show it is, who I’m with, what mood I’m in. Generally, I prefer to be as close and “in it” as possible, without the risk of getting hurt (you have to remember that most of the shows I go to are hardcore/post-hardcore/screamo, so there is always a pit).

    Lately, Alisha has been my concert buddy, and she’s the opposite of me. So we usually stay at the bar, or in the back somewhere so she will be comfortable. I’m OK with that mostly – as long as I can see/hear the band.

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