Full Details of the BIBJ Millennial Playlist Hullabaloo are available here. Today's entry is #19: Heartbeat by Annie(2004)
(NOTE: Today’s post was originally centered around one of my favorite recent Tom Waits songs, and it’s relation to my trip to Kuwait. But after reading it back, and in light of today's date, the whole thing was as depressing as…well, as a Tom Waits song. So I decided to change courses and tell a story about the worst concert-going experience I ever had. This story is in no way related to “Heartbeat” by Annie, which is three minutes and six seconds of Norwegian electropop perfection, and can be downloaded here.)
I still had shampoo in my hair. My roommate told me it was an emergency, so I stepped out of the bathroom in mid-shower to answer the supposedly urgent phone call. I picked the handset up off the table. Dan’s first words to me were shouted maniacally.
“DO YOU WANT TO GO TO CHICAGO?!”
“Those assholes left me! We were in the car behind them and they floored it on the interstate! I couldn't keep up with them! They have our tickets, and I have no idea how to find them once we get there!”
Why he chose to call me is still unclear. None of us had cell phones in 1998, so if his roommates had in fact left him and his friend Nic behind, there wasn’t much anyone could do, let alone me. But I had nothing to do this particular Saturday, so he picked me up and were off to Chicago.
The fall of junior year was a complete fiasco within the apartment of four of my best friends. They had bought tickets to the October show within the first week of classes, and in the 6 weeks in between, the apartment had become a war zone. It’s a fact: hooking up with a roommate’s (very recent) ex is counter-productive to the morale of roommates. Another less-than-healthy component? A French foreign-exchange student crashing on the couch while civil unrest reigns throughout the four-room suite.
We entered Indiana enjoying the scenics of I-70, five hours away from the Rosemont Horizon in the western burbs of Chicago.
“I know I mentioned this on the phone, but I am NOT going to this show,” I reminded Dan.
“That’s fine. We’ll find them and find our tickets, then we’ll sell them and hang out in Chicago.”
“Why aren’t we going to the show? I want to go,” Nic the foreign-exchange student chimed in. It sounded much more whiny when grounded in his French accent.
“Because I’m not paying for a ticket,” I maintained. “And because you don’t even HAVE your tickets. And you have no way to find the other roommates and get your tickets.”
It’s not often that I steadfastly refuse to see a show. But this was no normal show. This was the inaugural Family Values tour. There was a reason that I didn't buy tickets in the first place. Need a refresher on the lineup for the showcase?
Do yourself a favor. Go back and read each of those names again. Amazing, right? I imagine this tour as a "State of the Union" style grouping of the heavy hitters in shitty nu metal; one in which Slipknot were forced to take shelter at a secure location at the time, so that someone would be able to assume office should tragedy ever strike a Family Values venue. I digress...
316 miles after departing, we pulled into the parking lot and walked toward the front doors. Considering that the other car had sped away from Dan on the interstate, and that Dan had turned around to pick me up AFTER getting left behind, we knew that the 3 roommates had to be inside already. Dan and Nic stood seething, while I was silently elated. We waited for about another 20 minutes before deciding to head back to the car.
Then we saw the roommates approaching the arena.
I was in complete disbelief. And I wasn’t the only one. As shocked as I was to see them, they seemed much more surprised to see me, considering that I had no business being a part of this road trip in the first place. My shock quickly turned to dread, as about 15 seconds after seeing them, I realized that this meant my night was going to immediately turn for the worst. Because now Dan and Nic had their tickets. And I knew they weren’t going to sell them. Because I am friends with liars. Liars with occasionally shitty, shitty taste in music.
Dan and Nic chipped in to buy my ticket. However, this was not a general admission show, so not only would I be witnessing a rotating lineup of hacks, each less talented than those preceding, I would be witnessing the musical abortion by myself.
The show itself was mostly a blur. Obviously it goes without saying that it was all beyond terrible. Even more horrendous was the fact that although the group had initially decided to stay overnight in Chicago, we felt the wiser move would be to leave Chicago at midnight and head directly back to Dayton. I’ve done several things in my life that could be classified as “beyond stupid,” but it’s hard to think of many that topped this. All three of us took turns sleeping on the ride home – the main issue being that I was still driving during the majority of my cat naps. At a Greenfield gas station, I’d had enough, yelling at Dan in the backseat.
“We are going to die if I keep driving. You’ve been sleeping for 4 hours. You need to go the rest of the way.”
He groggily agreed and took over for the final hour and change. I passed out in the back seat and tried forget the last 20 hours of my life, hoping we would make it back to the Darkside before exchanging pleasantries with a guardrail.
I looked at the clock after walking in the front door. It was now past 6:30am. I collapsed on the couch and ran my hand through my hair. My fingers caught on a small clump of dried shampoo behind my ear.