David has always had an irrational hatred of Philadelphia. And while I've never spent an enormous amount of time there, it's always stuck me as a perfectly lovely place. David's visceral response stems from bad childhood associations with some crazy relations who hailed from the city.
David and I love the Arctic Monkeys so much that David, a grown man of 40, joined their fan club, which is how we were able to purchase tickets over the summer during the pre-sale. New York sold out too quickly, so we settled for Philadelphia. That David was willing to travel there to see them says a great deal about our allegiance to this band.
Although the contents of our iPods are very different, David and I respect each other's musical taste. It is what allows me to roll my eyes as he yet again declares his love of the Dirtbombs, and the fact that Mick Collins is a demigod, or, as happened earlier this week, for me to smile bemusedly when, moments after mentioning to a friend while listening to a track from Portishead's Dummy, that it is one of my favorite records, David, who was not even privy to this conversation, turned to me and said, "I actively dislike this music."
The Kinks, Elvis Costello and more recently, the Arctic Monkeys, are some of the places where David and I find common ground. And as young lovers make a past time of time cataloging one another's many excellent qualities, so do we recount the many virtues of our latest crush. If you were to spend any amount of time with me, and I intuited that you were interested in music, eventually I would find a way to bring the conversation around to the awesomeness of the Arctic Monkeys. Once I get going, I can be quite insufferable.
Every time I hear them, I can't help but marvel at how such a young band can be so good. I can, and sometimes do, listen to them almost exclusively for weeks on end without getting bored. The Arctic Monkeys are not a band with a kernel of promise who had to grow into itself. They sprung from Sheffield, fully formed, and three records later, are only getting better. Whenever I hear them, my pulse quickens, and I sometimes have to restrain the urge to jump up and down, or bark like a dog with excitement.
Their musicianship is excellent, and they have a knack for compelling melodies. They rock hard.
But perhaps what I love best about them is their lyrical wit. They always come up with clever and unexpected, turns of phrase:
Yeah but his bird thinks it's amazing,/ though So all that's left/ Is the proof that love's not only blind but deaf
Presuming all things are equal who'd want to be men of the people, when there's people like you.
They are masters of the biting take down:
They are masters of the biting take down:
And as I've said before, never have I heard a bunch of lads be more articulate about how men are led about by their dicks:
You should have racing stripes the way you keep me in pursuit/ You sharpen the heel of your boot and you press it in my chest/ And you make me wheeze/ Then to my knees you do promote me.
I don't know if it's just that everything sounds better in British, or Alex Turner's excellent delivery, but their lyrics always strike me as wise beyond their years. If I were half as clever and insightful in my early twenties, I was doing pretty well.
This show was to be the highlight of my admittedly dull social season.
And so it was that we set out, tired, but excited, on Wednesday evening. Doors opened at eight, and we assumed that meant the band would start at ten, so we asked our sitter to arrive at 7.30. That turned out to be exceptionally dumb of us, but we figured it would allow us to miss rush hour traffic, and have dinner with the kids, thus having a comeback ready for when Sarah inevitably expressed her outrage that we were going out again? Because twice a month is really excessive.
We did not get on the road until close to 8, which was a foolish mistake, but as for the rest of the evening, I blame Google, and Philadelphia. Google Maps directions SUCKED. They weren't just bad, they were WRONG. Google instructed us to go east on NJ Route 38, when we should have gone west, and although David initially questioned whether that could be right, we went with it, and drove FIFTEEN minutes, searching for Admiral Fucking Wilson Boulevard, until we rechecked GPS via Google on my phone, and realized we had to turn around.
By the time we arrived in Philadelphia, we were cutting it very close indeed. We looked for the North 7th Street exit, only to find it DID NOT EXIST. And so we took the 9th Street exit and attempted to circle back around. This was deceptively difficult, because while the city appears to be laid out like a grid, the street numbers we were looking for continually eluded us. After riding around the block once, we asked a cab driver for help, and he provided a long and thorough lesson on the city's geography, during which we learned that Seventh Street was closed for construction, and we should take Fifth Street instead. We thanked him, and headed back in search of Fifth Street. And so we counted down the street numbers in their predictable order: nine, eight, seven, six...four. This sort of thing happened more times than I care to count.
As we took one wrong turn after another, David grew more anxious, while I was uncharacteristically relaxed, because I figured, it's rock'n'roll, and these things are never punctual, and maybe we'll miss part of the show, but surely not the whole thing.
And so it was that we finally arrived at 10.30, rushed into the concert venue excitedly, handed our tickets to the bouncer, who, as he ripped them, announced, "This is the last song."
CAPS LOCK CANNOT SUFFICIENTLY CONVEY THE EXTENT OF OUR DISAPPOINTMENT.
It was indeed the last song, and our timing was so impeccably bad that we only heard a few bars, not even enough to recognize what they closed with, before the house lights came up.
"What time did they go on?" we asked the bouncers.
Despite my immense disappointment, knowing that they started so early only made me respect the band even more, for I read into this perhaps meaningless bit of information that they were either morning people, like myself, or liked to knock off work early so as to fit in as much drinking and shagging as possible.
I suppose I could have found Alex Turner and offered him my body in exchange for a few more songs, but then David would have had to kill him, and the Arctic Monkeys could no longer make music.
So in reality, our only options were to laugh, or have a rip roaring fight in which we berated ourselves for our stupidity.
David asked me, "Do you want a t-shirt?
"Oh, yes, I do!"
Never mind that if you include the cost of gas, sitter, and parking, that it was one very expensive t-shirt. It allows me the privilege, which I will cherish forever, of being able to say I went to see the Arctic Monkeys, and all I got was a lousy t-shirt.
Although we were despondent, I was oddly calm throughout the evening and for this, I have John Friend to thank, as one of the most important lessons I have learned from Anusara Yoga is a very simple, obvious truth that often eludes us: look for the good.
And so, although we would have both much rather seen the Arctic Monkeys, it was nice nonetheless to spend several hours alone conversing with my husband, and be reminded yet again that not only do I love this man, but I also like him a whole lot.
Even as events were unfolding, the act of blogging is now so thoroughly ingrained in me that everything is material, and I could not help but think, despite my disappointment, this will make a really good story.
And, thanks to my new t-shirt, I had no trouble deciding what to wear on Thursday.
I also learned a few practical things from this endeavor.
David should never again drive at night without his glasses.
Perhaps we should invest in a GPS device.
Maybe there is a Philadelphia curse?