I was 12 years old? I remember being 13, but if the date on the ticket stub is correct, I was 12. I think it was a school night. I was in no way old enough (or ready) to attend a concert on my own. My mother asked my sister to take me to the concert. Lord knows what dinner date my 20-years-older sister had to cancel, or if she had to use vacation hours to accommodate her little brother.
In addition to adult supervision, I had to invite a friend under the terms and conditions of my concertgoing. I invited my friend Mark. His mother had been taking him to concerts for years. So – it was my sister, my friend Mark, my sister’s friend John-George and myself.
I had been listening to Blur’s self-titled album since it came out in March of that year. I was obsessed and knew the words to all the tracks with intelligible lyrics. My favorites were ”Beetlebum” and “I’m Just A Killer For Your Love” along with (of course) “Song 2”. I was hyper-self-aware back then and thought people could read my mind so I kept sending out negatives vibes to people who only enjoyed “Song 2” or the self-titled album. Even then, posturing myself for some semblance of hipsterdom sending the thought “poser poser poser poser” to everyone else. I can’t blame myself, I was just a stupid kid.
This was in 1997, the days of yore, pre-broadband. I had to tug at my mother’s heel to get her to drive me to brick and mortar retail outlets to buy their back catalog. She bought Blur for me as a birthday gift. Parklife, The Great Escape, Modern Life Is Rubbish and Leisure? That’s plain spoiled. I couldn’t even find Modern Life Is Rubbish at The Wherehouse or Blockbuster Music, it had to be ordered into the store by a clerk. Remember when CDs cost $17.99 even though they weren’t imports?
My parents definitely loved me or wanted to shut me up.
It was a really good night. Everything is, of course, a blur. I had hair parted in the middle back then. I remember wearing a blue v-neck shirt with a green horizontal stripe across the chest because I wore that stupid shirt all the time. I also wore my black corduroys. Appropriate concert attire.
My sister and John-George took my friend and I to the original Philippe’s (I probably didn’t even try the french dip) in downtown Los Angeles. I wouldn’t return for another 12 years. My sister bought me a Blur shirt as soon as we entered the Palladium, without complaining about the $25 price tag. We missed Supersport 2000’s (who apparently only ever played a handful of shows) set but caught the tail end of Smash Mouth’s set. I got to dance with my sister to “Walking On The Sun”.
I told my sister and John-George that I wanted to be in the crowd for Blur. It was the first but not the last time I would coat myself in a glistening layer of other people’s sweat and smell the impossibly strong odors of hundreds of people. John-George instructed me to ball my hands into fists cross my arms in front of me and hold them up close to my face and set my feet shoulder width apart and shuffle with the crowd.
The Palladium’s waxed down hardwood dance floor scared the bejesus out of me in that crowd when Blur hit the stage. The lights were impossibly bright, the chandeliers hanging were impossibly huge and I was impossibly happy that they started their set with “Beetlebum”. I chickened out after nearly falling and being trampled every other second of that song. We watched the rest of the concert from the raised and carpeted standing section off to the sides, where people were enjoying the music more civilized-like. I really can’t remember much more about the evening. I’m sure there was lots of bobbing around and smiling and singing.
I can with all honesty say it was the best day of my 12th year of life. It was the first time that I had ever been electrified and enlightened by live music but it was not my last.