It was a gray afternoon with clouds filling the sky. The air was damp and would have been chilly if not for the constant breathe of all of the people waiting outside of the Shoebox Theater. The weather was not exactly pleasant, but that is what you expect when you venture to downtown Seattle in early autumn. The crowd there was less than desirable. The sickly sweet smell of marijuana and the bitterness of cigarette smoke would constantly invade your nasal cavity. I had never even listened to the band before the show, but at the time I was less concerned with the music and more distressed by the man in a leather jumpsuit with the dilated pupils in front of me.
Concerts had never really been my thing, especially when they involved such an obnoxious crowd.
Everyone had been screeching at friends who were at different parts of the line or cackling at some lame sex joke. My brother, Sam, had been dying to see the band play. They were his favorite and they forced his usually sullen attitude out the window to be replaced with one that resembled a child on Christmas. I never fully understood his love for their music until that day. I was more concentrated on how out of place I felt instead of the experience.
Big, burly security guards dressed in all black stalked up and down the long line of people, howling, “No recording of the concert is allowed! That means no photography, no video, and no sound recording!”
Their strange mantra continued as the doors were opened and we were all herded inside to get our first look at the place. The interior of the theater was smaller than I expected. The lightning gave it a magenta hue which made the attendants’ faces a light wan color. The ground was made of smoothed out concrete that gave the impression of someone forgetting to add the final layer to the floor plan. There was a makeshift, off-white table in a corner selling over-priced purple and blue t-shirts. It wobbled and threatened to topple over whenever anyone leaned against it. A woman dressed in the same garb as the security guards stood in front of the doors handing out pink and purple ear plugs.
I was separated from my brother soon after the opening band came on and everything got worse from there. He moved effortlessly through the slew of people to the front of the stage, while I awkwardly tried to follow. I ended up ramming my lips into the side of a six foot tall behemoth of a frat boy. I basically ended up licking his bicep and reeled in disgust. He tasted vinegary and sour, like an expired bag of chips. He did not even glance back at me while I forced my way through the crowd, threatening to vomit from his taste. I ended up being pushed to the side next to cast away trunks from the band. I sighed and just sat down on the ground, regretting that I came. The opening band sounded like a dying a vulture. I do not even remember their name or what they looked like. I was miserable and was reduced to just watching everyone clumsily gyrate to the music. The opening band finally took their last bows, and moved off stage. I pondered just leaving then while I had the chance, but my fear of being alone in the big city beat out my melancholy.
My Bloody Valentine finally took the stage. The members were relatively older, most of them in their fifties. The band had hit their stride in the early nineties and was doing a comeback tour after twenty years of separation. The front female vocalist wore a lime green dress with a dark brown cardigan and tapered heels. She looked extremely elegant, which was surprising considering the crowd she produced. Her hair was brown, curled, and fell delicately onto her shoulders. She carried an electric guitar with a brown strap that melted into her hair. The front male vocalist had a gray curly mop of hair on his head and wore slacks and what looked like a tweed jacket. He looked more like a professor than a rock star. The theater erupted as they came on to the stage. They all seemed to form a single voice, which begged for them to begin. I slouched further into myself, feeling out of place with all of the die-hard fans. Then, they began to play.
It was of course loud, but a different kind of loud than the opening band. It was some sort of out-of-this-world mixture of soft voices and exhilarating instrumentals. The woman who was dressed in green sang like a dove. She literally cooed. In different circumstances it would have been ridiculous, but there it was lovely. Also, it was a striking contrast from the loudness of their guitars and the mashing of effect pedals from some unseen magician. The male vocalist was lower and almost had a gravely sound to his voice. His sound was a stark difference from hers that somehow merged together perfectly. Listening to it caused relaxation and a feeling of intoxication.
When the concert ended it felt like waking up from a dream. Everything was hazy and wonderful. I reunited with Sam and we walked out into the Seattle streets completely dazzled by what we had experienced. It was especially cold that night, and a bit windy. Goosebumps prickled our skin as we waited for our ride. Words were not really said then because nothing needed to be said. I just finally understood his love for music after witnessing first-hand what phenomenal sound was really like.
Jacquelyn Mixon was born in Fountain Valley California in 1997 and moved to Morton Washington in 2007 with her older brother and mother. She is currently a student at both Centralia College East and Morton Senior High School with hopes of becoming a novelist.