There was a moment last night when both The Drive-by Truckers and The Hold Steady were on the First Ave stage together, and as they tore through “Let There Be Rock” Craig Finn threw his arms out towards the audience and on his face was such a look of pure ecstasy that my eyes immediately began fill.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone over the age of like four express pure joy in such a physical manner. At least not in a room filled with hundreds of people.
A few minutes later the tears spilled from my eyes when the two bands teamed up on a brick-loosening version of “Keep on Rockin’ in the Free World.” It was one of those rare concert moments where the audience actually unites as one. The idle chit chat stops, the getting/drinking of beer ceases, and all attention is focused on what they are experiencing. No, that’s the right. Because focus makes it seem like there was a choice, and there was no choice. It was something that just happened.
At that moment the music and the band and the people and the building were all one. It was fucking magic.
The spell was broken when Sister #2 tapped me on the shoulder and leaned into my ear. “There will be no ‘Chill Out Tent’ tonight.”
I turned and nodded at her. “Nothing can follow ‘Rockin’ in the Free World.”
While my head was turned, I looked up to the people leaning over the rail on the upper floor. Up above us and to the left was a contingent of mid-fiftysomething grey-haired men. Maybe like six or seven of them. They were fist pumping and head-nodding with the rest of the crowd. Except for two of them. One of the grey-hairs had his arm around the waist of another grey-haired man. Their fingers were intertwined and together they played air-guitar.
It was the cutest, sweetest thing I’d seen all night. So sweet that it almost erased the bad memory of Giant Mom Purse whose Prada bag would knock into me every time she turned around to makeout with her date, an Andy Samberg lookalike who must have been about ten years her junior. The gay air guitarists kept Prada Purse from a beat down.
The concert on a whole was a-fucking-mazing. It is easily in my top ten concerts of all time. This was my first time seeing The Hold Steady and it makes me damn mad that I’ve missed so many of their shows. They brought it last night and it was a wonder to behold. And then the Drive-by Truckers, who I thought would be a bit of a let down after the Hold Steady, came on stage to kick an righteous amount of ass. The night was just, well, it was the kind of concert that renewed my faith in rock and roll.