I sit surrounded by strangers and teenagers in the Moore Theater, which is in Seattle and the kind of place you can imagine Eddie Vedder swinging from the chandeliers (by which I mean it's been there since Seattle meant Ivar's, not Starbuck's, and is not made of stucco). I am not sober but I am not smoking. Regardless of the substances flowing through my plumbing, I am having flashbacks.
As a young kid, convinced I wanted to be a witch, I bought two tiny vials of essential oils, Sun and Moon, respectively. They both smelled similar, heavy cloying musky smells like nothing I could put my finger on. Someone sitting near to me is wearing Sun. It is exactly the same, with the same potency that caused me endless teenage embarrassment whenever I made the mistake of dabbing some on.
Dissimilar from my teenage concert-going experiences, however, is that no one smokes. Anything. I realize I am of the age where I should be the one in the audience surreptitiously lighting a jay. We are on the top balcony and there is not even a cigarette.
If you listen to the lyrics, it makes sense. No, these angel girls aren't walled off by their politics or their heroin. They're made distant by their brattiness. By the things their Prozac and Ritalin should have cured. In my day, singers who stared at their shoes wrote love songs about girls who cut themselves. Now the love songs are about the shoes. The kids are keeping it clean. The internal drama of their occasional unhappiness is trip aplenty.
In the mid-nineties I would walk out of a concert in a sea of flannel limbs and green hair, all pushing and smelling of young sweat. We walk down the stairs single file. A girl is talking on her cell phone. "It was so sad. You should have been there."
Don't these kids dance anymore?
At the bottom of the stairs we stall, needing to merge with the crowd flowing out of the GA area and the other balcony. There are doors no one is standing in front of. I push, they open. Ten years ago, I would not have been the one to think of that. Ten years ago, we pushed on everything. Didn't we?