It all started when I found out The Specials were playing in London. I wanted desperately to go. But being a bit skint, I thought it not the most responsible thing to put a ticket to the UK on my credit card just so I could see a band. Not a terribly grown up thing to do – but I’ve never claimed to be a grown up. Still, I rationalized that they would be touring again next year and promised myself I’d go then. (Who’s in?!)
So when I saw the Pixies were playing in Switzerland, I told myself this was a much more appropriate way to spend money I didn’t have and that since I would take a train and not a plane, it was a much more practical outing. I booked 2 tickets and that was that. I was going.
My dear friend Anushka was about to turn 50 and I had the brilliant idea of bringing her to the show to celebrate. She lives in the South of France and is poor like me, but she has a car and money for gas. I’d get a cheap room on Airbnb and we’d be off to the races! But she had a once a year work thing she couldn’t get out of. Boo. Next.
I invited a man I’d just started dating. But that was a silly idea. The inviting and the dating. Before our scheduled naked Friday lunch, he wrote saying he couldn’t see us together long-term and though I’m awfully swell and all, he doesn’t see the point. Well, I agreed with that sentiment, though honestly, I would have waited until after the sex to say it. How terribly grown up of him. Next.
Man friend, ex-love interest. Left me hanging. Next person on Whatsapp:
Me: Do you like the Pixies?
Them: What’s a Pixie? Next.
Me: Do you like the Pixies and are you free Friday night?
Them: Aren’t they from the 80’s? You know I wasn’t even alive then, right?
Me: Road trip to Montreux and see the Pixies?
Them: I love the Pixies! Let me ask my wife. . .
I asked over 20 people and no one could go.
PEOPLE! What is wrong with you? How often do you get to see a band from the highlight of your youth? A band whose song was playing during the last scene of one of the most prolific films of the last century. “Where is my Mind”. “Fight Club”. YouTube it now.
Fuck it. I’m going solo. I board the train. I am a rebel. I am amazing. I have a flask of Balvenie Double Wood 12 Year Whisky in my pocket and am setting out on an adventure! Alone!
I’m early. I hover outside and take a few nips from the flask. The rebelliousness I felt on the train is now fading. I feel like a loser.
I feel very self conscious alone. I’ve never been to a show alone. It doesn’t seem like something one does. A movie? Yes. Sure. All day long. But a concert? I don’t know. I’m very uncomfortable but faking it well so far.
Maybe I’m not dressed right. I’m wearing a tight, cut-off English Beat t-shirt, a short black skirt, black tights and black boots. I’m slinkier than anyone else here. Are they staring because they are too old and no longer cool or because I’m too old to be donning such attire or maybe it’s because we’re in Switzerland and not London?
I try chatting up a group of dudes in the coat check line. They stare blankly at me when I try to commiserate about always picking the slowest line. Maybe they think I’m a working girl. Do I look like a hooker?
Back outside for nip. But Kristen, where will you put the flask, you have no pockets! I know! I know! A conundrum! But I have a secret! It’s called a Girlie Go Garter and it’s sitting snugly high on my right thigh. It has pockets! One can put almost anything in it! Gum, keys, money, credit cards, condoms, a flask. Brilliant! It can be a bit bumpy when wearing a tight skirt but at this point I could care less. My only friend flask is on my person and close at hand.
No drinks allowed in the beautiful wood-covered concert hall. Normally, I’d be very bummed out about this – I mean what do you do with your hands when you’re not holding a drink? Lucky for me, the bejeweled 60-something woman checking my ticket as I walk in is not looking at the bulge on my leg but my décolletage and I waltz in with my delicious little secret. Works every time. I don’t know if it is the whisky or my deep-breathing or the fact that after having paid 130 CHF for two tickets and only using one, I am determined to get my entertainment’s worth, but I am happy. I dance alone. I sing out loud alone. I make eye-contact and smile and though my smiles are not returned and some people even move away from me, I am okay. I am actually having fun by myself. I’m paying attention. I’m in the moment. Alone. And okay.
After the encore, the crowd files out. I am high. My ears are ringing. (I refused the earplugs at the entry. Bad call.) I’ve forgotten how much I love live music and how it triggers a happy place in my brain.
Of course my euphoria is interrupted by all the pushing and the lack of manners of everyone around me. I’m not exaggerating. Not a single Entschuldigung! or Pardon or whatever they say in the French part of Switzerland. I really need to work with you people here. I love the Swiss and abstain (mostly) from making sweeping statements, but for fuck sakes, people, manners. Get some.
The final sips from my trusty flask help me get my mojo back after the scene from Black Friday at Walmart for the long train ride home. I take inventory of my night: I didn’t cry once. I didn’t have to drink over-priced, shitty beer. I didn’t shell out for a 50 CHF t-shirt. I was not on my phone the entire time. (Took two videos and posted live on Facebook and did check to see who watched and liked. I’m only human after all.) I laughed. Danced. Was happy.
I finally got home at 3am. Before I crawled into bed, I grabbed my guitar and practiced the 3 chords I’m learning. A, D and E. My fingertips are actually getting tough. Next thing you know, I’ll be playing “Monkey Gone to Heaven”. It could happen.