We Rule The Smaller Markets

Before I scribe even one syllable, I have to thank all of you for hanging in here with me and my kids this week. Between broken collarbones and physical therapy for two kids’ two messed up shoulders, I am toast. I appreciate all the support (and cupcakes!) you’ve given as I have shuttled my boys to their many appointments around southeastern Wisconsin, seeking healing and sanity for us all. 

This is not my best work. You’ve been cautioned.

My husband and I saw U2’s The Joshua Tree tour at Soldier Field in Chicago in June.  I don’t live and die for U2 the way I do for a certain Canadian quartet, but U2 mesmerized me with decibels only a stadium concert could make happen, volume that rattled your bones.  They built a video display wide as an NFL field to complement and extend their musical storytelling.  The crunch of that lead guitar, the driving bass, and that voice.  Oh, that voice.  Bono’s pipes hit all the notes, ALL of them, but what moved me to tears the first time was not what or how he sang, but what he said.  Bono rallied the audience–ONE audience, not one torn by political affiliation–extolling the magnificent country in which we live, the US.  He exhorted us to be conscious.  To be kind.  To help.  To understand.  To celebrate and support women across time and across the globe.  And as they marched from the island (well, tree-shaped) stage on the floor toward the main stage to open The Joshua Tree in its entirety, the power of his words, combined with that guitar intro building Where The Streets Have No Name set against a blood red backdrop, so big and bright I nearly shielded my eyes?  Experiencing an overload of every sense music engages while my husband cheered his favorite band?  I teared up a little.  I did.

I typically don’t enjoy stadium tours.  As I have taught you, friends, second row is not the front row, and you don’t get front row at U2 for under several thousand dollars.  The football field was all general admission actually, which, ugh, just kill me now.

An anxious brain needs to know where its seats are before heading into the venue.  An anxious brain needs to know from precisely which vantage point it will experience the show.  Anxious brains don’t like to have to squat for space and worry that the drunk yahoo sashaying and stumbling in during the fourth song is going to elbow the brain’s body out of its established vantage point.  That shit has happened to me more than once, and I just really, really, really hate it.  Really, really.

It’s time for the front row again, kids.

I’m meeting two of Barenaked Ladies’ most committed fans and my sweet friends Sunday in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  Northern Indiana isn’t exactly a tourist hub, but it’s geographically about as close to an epicenter for eastern Michigander Bek, southern Ohioan Nikki, and me, just a small town girl, livin’ in a lonely world. . .  Sorry, wrong band.  And me, crawling again through Chicagoland traffic from my MKE home to catch my dear friends and my band.

With everyone reminding me of my “big” birthday pending, I’m feeling sorta midlife crisis-y, which is super fun for my husband, you can imagine.  The kids are cool with me taking off for an overnight–they’re so involved in their own business these days that I’m merely a chariot to their destinations.  Sure they hug their chariot driver and say all the right things, but I know where I stand.  I’m feeling moderately-to-mostly crappy that I’ll be leaving my boy with his broken collarbone and missing my younger’s last baseball games of the season, but what if my band never tours again??  What if this is it?  I gotta go.

Reading the last sentences I typed sounds ridiculous unless you’re us, I’ll grant you, but what if?  All those internet memes say tomorrow is not a guarantee, and I’m good at reading comprehension. Plus the internet never lies.  I even own socks that read “Carpe the fuck out of this diem.”  So we carpe.  That’s probs not the correct verb tense, but I don’t know Latin, so whatever.

I cannot wait to give my girls their commemorative tee shirts.  I killed the shirt this time, #nailedit.  There are two in the entire world like them (no, I didn’t make one for myself) and I’m goofy just thinking about them.  As per custom, the message is girly-girl borderline inappropriate, but HILARIOUS, because we are hilarious.  Just ask us.  We totally are.

It’s a surprise, so I can’t show you the front of the shirt yet.

I even compiled a list of things I want to ask the members of the band if we get lucky enough to talk with them after the show.  They’re in my phone’s notes app because I never again want to ask someone I idolize how his thing is.  Seriously.  I’m just gonna go over here and kill myself.

I want to be sure to tell Kevin Hearn how this picture he drew makes my heart skip.  I’m hoping my son is still eons away from requiring a wheelchair for ambulation–stupid @&$^# muscular dystrophy–but when I see kids in chairs depicted in art, well, yeah, I am moved. 

The week my son attended MDA Camp, Ed Robertson hit the Canadian talk show circuit, where he was featured for his support of Camp Oochigeas, a summer camp for kids with cancer. He wrote the camp theme song, and the symmetry of his song for camp kids and my kid’s being at camp was almost too much for me, so naturally, I got all misty-eyed. The point is that I don’t want to sound like a complete idiot this time. Not that sounding like an idiot is foreign territory or anything for me, because #skills, but I can speak cogently. Just usually not around them.

I originally planned to make this a 2-night BNL tour.  The big kid expressed interest in attending the EAA Fly-In and the Barenaked Ladies concert in Wisconsin Monday night. My band is finally coming to my home state, but their show here is general admission (see above for GA commentary).  On his best days, there’s no way my son has the endurance not only to walk around all day, but also then stand for a couple hours before and during the show.  And now with the broken bone slung to his side?  It’s a no-go, Houston. Sad face. 

I’m ever-grateful to connect with a faction of my #Ladiesladies. This will be the third show Ketchup & Mustard, and Relish are a trio. The first time we snuck into sound check, which SCORE!!! and the second time was a big city/small venue.  Nikki says we rule the smaller markets.

I offer commentary like, “I would sever off my arm to hear When I Fall live,” because I am comfortable with hyperbole and I ramble a bunch. Hearing my besties’ faves, Keepin’ It Real or Toe To Toe, would make this trip magic. My Barenaked Ladies fandom wouldn’t be at its zenith without the girls. See, ours is a story of friendship as much as it is about the music.  

And the road trip.  Ladies and Ladies, start your engines. 

9 thoughts on “We Rule The Smaller Markets

  1. I can’t wait. The shirt. Omg. Seriously. I am dying. When I said that I was trying to be funny. But then we both kind of looked at each other and realized…”Damn. We actually do.” Because the smaller markets belong to us. 😂❤️💛💚 safe travels Mustard and Relish. See you soon. 😘

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The Barenaked Ladies are coming to Naperville Last Fling. Would love to join you if you are coming down. Never been to the Last Fling or the Bare Naked Ladies concert. (Too be honest I don’t even know any songs–sorry–I just would love to hang with you!)


  3. Me, I always need to be on the aisle, or in a box. I have kind of claustrophobia, not like i’m afraid of small spaces, but my anxiety tweaks when I can’t find an escape route. Call it what you will, I totally get you. Glad the kids are doing well–go and enjoy yourself!


  4. I didn’t know you saw the Joshua Tree Tour this summer, too! Stadium tours are exhausting experiences at our age, aren’t they? I’ve got tickets to see Extreme — of “More Than Words” fame — at a small club venue here in L.A. in January. I guess Extreme is my BNL: There’s something about the intimacy of a smaller show, where the headline act isn’t the Biggest Band in the World, that allows you to connect with the music and the experience in a very special way. And going with old friends makes it all the sweeter!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Extreme of More than Words fame? How about Extreme of Decadence Dance or Get The Funk Out or Tragic Comic fame? Pornograffitti (I still have a hard time with the misspelling of the title) was the sound of my second year of grad school! I can see my ’78 Chevy Chevette and hear me toolin’ around town blasting that tape! You’re going to have a rockin’ time at the Greek, made even better by going to the show with old friends. Enjoy! I hate to admit that I sometimes feel like I am aging out of stadium shows, but there was a lovely range of diversity at the U2 show–people of all stripes were in attendance in Chicago, so I didn’t feel like the dinosaur I might have otherwise!

      Liked by 1 person

      • You’re an Extreme fan?! I didn’t know! Most people only know who you’re talking about if you reference “More Than Words”! But I’ll take anything off Pornograffitti (love me some “Get the Funk Out”!) or III Sides to Every Story, which remains an unrecognized masterpiece. Extreme just suffered from such a case of bad timing, getting lumped in with the hair-metal movement at the same time their preferred style of rock was falling out of favor for grunge. There’s no reason Cherone and Bettencourt shouldn’t be right up there, with respect to cultural esteem, alongside Page and Plant, Daltrey and Townshend, et al. If you haven’t purchased it, get your hands on Pornograffitti Live 25, a CD/DVD they recorded last year of Pornograffitti performed in its sequential entirety.

        You know, when my wife and I attended U2’s Innocence + Experience Tour in 2015, we both scanned the crowd in horror, noting that everyone in attendance was — egads! — middle-aged. Then we looked at each other and went, “Oh, wait…”


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