I don’t look back on my teen years very often. Maybe once a year, when I get the sudden urge to bring out a rather large gray tub full of letters, love notes and trinkets from my high school days. I don’t get rid of anything even remotely sentimental. Anyway, I already went through my “who the hell was I at 16” phase earlier this year, and the tub is sitting in my garage collecting dust, even as I write this.
I was good to go, until a friend on Facebook talked about Nirvana (the band, not the state of mind). Nirvana is one of my all-time favorite bands, and the conversation took a turn down Mosh Pit Lane. Another friend had mentioned how she’d rocked out to Nirvana once, and ended up in the doctor’s office with an injured lung. I immediately assumed it was mosh pit-related, and she quickly informed me that it was not mosh-pit related, and there was no way whatsoever that she would have ever moshed. I don’t blame her. That was never my scene either, but I recalled a special night out with my friends, and the time I ended up smack center in a mosh with a fist slammed into my face.
When I was a kid, I was surrounded by grunge and alternative. I grew up in Oregon, and it’s what you did. You wore flannel, you dated skateboarders, and the music we listened to was always on the cutting edge. A good friend of mine had wanted to see the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies for her 18th birthday, and of course we were all in on the action. Man, I wish I could remember the name of the venue! It was located right next to the Cherriot’s bus depot there in Salem, OR, and the inside of the place was dirty and dank. It was absolutely perfect.
I didn’t know much at the time about the Daddies. I knew they were a rather large band, with lots of big band instruments, and somehow one of my friends knew the drummer, and scored a set of drumsticks at the end of the night. I took an instant liking to the music, the Ska of it. The punk of it. The crowd was getting a little crazy, and here’s what I remember about the pivotal moment, the moment where a fist slammed into my face. The Daddies started to play “Sockable Face Song”, and all the hormone-infused teenagers began to go nuts. I had never been to a concert such as this. I stood there within a sea of moshers, random bodies pummeling into me. A friend of mine had called this style of dancing “RAGING”, and that’s exactly what was happening. Sweat, heat, a fury to the movements. Only, when the song would say “you’ve got a sockable face”…. well, fists flew, and it wasn’t long before I felt someone’s fist slam right into my cheek. It didn’t hurt as much as it stunned the hell out of me. What just happened? Did someone punch me? Am I seeing stars?
We had a few people in our group that night, and one of the guys was an enormous kid, over six feet tall. I can’t remember his name, but I do remember him. He saw the fist slam into my face and grabbed onto me, dragging me out of the pit. He offered his shoulders as a place to sit for the rest of the concert. I swear. There I was, a seventeen year old sitting on this big guy’s shoulders like a little kid at the circus! We crept back slowly out of the mosh crowd, edging ourselves along the entrance of the building. That’s how big the pit was. It encompassed the whole venue!
That was the life of a teenager in 1996. Spending time with others who were out for adventure, feeling bad ass in our flannel and Chucks. We were out late on a Friday night attending a concert where we didn’t have to be chaperoned, getting thrown into a mosh pit, and getting socked in the kisser.
(All right, we weren’t bad ass, but we felt like we were, and that’s what made all the difference).
Do you have a crazy concert story? I’d love to hear it!