Now this is friendship. Chris drove up to Clarion from Pittsburgh on Saturday morning to pick me up for the Journey, Heart and Cheap Trick concert in Scranton 3.5 hours east of Clarion. Halfway into our road trip, Chris said, “Can I ask you a question?” Our conversation had been rather serious and so I said, “Of course. You can ask me anything,” and I braced for a tough question.
“Who are we seeing tonight? I thought Heart was one of the bands, but I don’t remember who else.”
She had no idea where we were going, either. Chris figured I had directions and would tell her how to get there. When she got the email from Dana and me weeks ago asking her if she wanted to go to a concert, it didn’t matter to her who we saw or where. She just looked forward to a weekend with her friends.
And what a weekend it was. We pinky swore we’d not get in another car with an unlicensed taxi driver (see the blog "Riding In Cars With Strangers In Hershey" for details on our adventure at last year’s Nickelback concert), so Chris drove to the venue. You’d think they’d never had a concert at the Toyota Pavilion before. It took almost an hour to drive two miles, and the parking lot attendants had no idea what they were doing. Cars were parked in lovely mosaic designs, but it made for a nightmare getting out of the place five hours later.
Once we parked, we walked a half mile downhill to our seats. Knowing we’d have to walk a half mile uphill to get back to the car kept me from drinking more than one Molson, which most of it spilled under my seat halfway through Heart anyway, and at $8.75 a glass I wasn’t going to replace it.
Even thought the venue seemed really full, the two rows ahead of us were mostly empty. People ahead of us were standing, so in order to see, we had to stand, too. No problem, until a woman behind me pulled on my shirt and yelled, “Sit down!” She didn’t yell at Chris, who was on my left, or Dana and her sister Ann, who were on my right. Just me. (She’s inadvertently in the photo below of Chris and me before the concert. Looks like she’s ready to party, doesn’t she?)
I looked at her and yelled back, “Stand up!” for which I got the evil eye.
I turned around and started singing again, but I felt kind of bad, kind of obligated that since someone asked me to sit down that maybe I should sit down. And so I did. Chris asked me what I was doing and I told her what happened and she yelled (because the music was so loud, not because she was mad), “This is a fucking rock concert! You’re supposed to stand up!” So I stood up again. Everyone else was. At one point, Ann turned around and suggested to the woman and her friend that they move to the rows ahead of us. I thought this was excellent advice, but they merely stared at her like she had a third nostril. Oh well.
Sometime during the Journey portion of the concert, a very amorous couple took their seats next to Chris. They immediately offered us whiskey from a flask and invited Dana and Chris to smoke a joint with them later. They practically had sex during “Open Arms,” and they grabbed Chris and the three of them danced to “Only The Young.” Chris laughed and went with the flow, but neither she or Dana took them up on their drug offer. Or the whiskey, either, now that I think of it. Twenty five years ago we’d have been all over that. Now, in our late 30s and 40s, not so much. When did we grow up?
Despite the massive crowd of women in line for the bathroom, the wait time was fairly short. No dawdling. Girls were just dropping their pants, doing their business, and zipping up as the exited the stall. I like efficient women.
Cell phones were used en masse, including mine. I texted my daughter throughout the concert, giving her reviews of various songs and of the new Steve Perry, aka Arnel Pineda. That's not how I watched concerts back in the '70s, that's for sure.
While I loved Journey and Cheap Trick and thought they rocked well, my favorite band of the evening was Heart. Ann and Nancy…man, they’ve still got it. “Barracuda” was hot, and the song I liked best was “Love, Reign O’er Me,” a Who song. What an obscure little surprise.
The moon was full, the place was packed and a cool breeze kept us comfortable. Everyone except the ladies behind us seemed to be having a good time. Around 11, Journey came out for an encore and sang “Any Way You Want It,” then the lights came up, and several thousand people filed out what I think was the only exit. After walking up the hill and (surprisingly) finding Chris’s car, we started the hour-long two-mile journey back to our hotel. The crickets and beetles sang in the woods and the air smelled remarkably good considering all the carbon monoxide wafting above the parking lot and road.
We didn’t think to bring after-concert snacks or drinks with us since we were “only” a few miles from the hotel and we assumed the bar would be open until 2. How disappointed were we when we got back at the hotel around midnight and walked to the bar only to be greeted with a “closed” sign. Dammmit.
The girls weren’t in the mood for pizza delivery and the Waffle House just isn’t the same unless you’re inebriated, so we shuffled up to our room and Chris and I broke out the food we brought with us, namely hummus, whole grain crackers, sugar snap peas, cucumber salad, grapes, cantaloupe, a half bottle of chardonnay and what was left of her zinfandel. By 1:15, we were all asleep.
When we got up at 8, we drank some coffee, ate some more cucumber salad and found some oatmeal down in the lobby. We took a few photos, talked about life and solved some problems, then parted ways around 11. Our voices were no worse for wear, although I won’t be singing any arias for awhile. Like that matters. I sound MUCH better when I’m singing with 30,000 people. The palm of my hand at the base of my thumb was bruised and sore and I wondered how that happened and I surmised that I need to take lessons in clapping from Paula Abdul to avoid future injuries.
As Chris, Dana, Ann and I said goodbye, we promised to keep our eyes open for another concert, sometime around January. We agreed we needed something to look forward to after the holidays and when the harsh reality of winter sets in. We might just go hang out in Dana’s Jacuzzi and make blender drinks. That would work, too. After all, when you’re with good friends, it doesn’t matter what you do together. As long as it’s not in a car with a scary woman named Clara in Hershey.