I had always wanted to have such an experience and last month my wish was finally granted. I called some friends to come over and help me assemble a pool I had recently purchased. They countered my offer of manual labor with a free ticket to the Orion Rock Festival at dater field in Atlantic City. The pool didn’t get assembled on that day. The roads that led to Atlantic City were in a state of gridlock, bumper to bumper, everyone in a rush to go nowhere. Finally, we made it to Batter field and too much of my dismay there was no parking. I looked down Albany Eave. ND all I could e was an endless wall of automobiles that were trying to deny my long sought after coming of age experience. Twenty minutes, and two miles later, we found parking In an obscure side street parking lot. Once we started the hike back down the road we had Just came, I realized that wearing flip-flops would be a decision I would soon regret. The longer we walked the more I lagged behind my companions, which resulted in me calling them twice trying to locate them. The conversations seemed more like a bad version of Marco Polo than an actual phone call.
Eventually, the mass exodus from our cars to the promise land of Batter Field was over. Approaching the main entrance, I began to be molested by droves of make- shift merchants trying to sell me anything from shirts that didn’t fit, event tickets I already had, to substances I didn’t want. I was impervious to their cunning tricks, while my friends weren’t so lucky having bought the exact shirt being sold inside the venue for twice the price. The oppressive summer sun was beginning to set for the day when we got our first glimpse of rock and roll royalty.
A bottle of Jack Daniels whiskey In one hand, and energy cola In the other, I made my way to the crowd around center stage. While I waited in quite anticipation consuming my beverage faster than I intended, the crowd grew from a decent mob to a daunting army of rock enthusiasts. People kept pushing by, eager to find the best position to see the stage. Soon I started to notice that people were staring at me. This isn’t unusual being 6’4″ I have a habit of sticking out in most crowds. Then began to realize how ridiculous I must look to them as they did to me.
Any of my would-be critics could have been an extra in any of the Mad Max” films, wearing ripped up Jeans and shirts that resembled mini billboards for different bands. I was subsequently wearing a button-down, with khaki shorts topped off with the dreaded flip-flops. Now, having reflected back at my outfit I probably should have changed before heading up to the show. The quite banter of the antsy crowd grew louder and louder until It was a deafening roar as the final moments drew near. When the headliner finally rose from beneath the stage, the crowd went into a wild frenzy.
People who I had been standing by for nearly an hour, o play its first song. The words that the vocalist used to tell his story no sooner left his lips, when they were immediately echoed back at him as if he was yelling down a Nell. I could feel every beat of the drum as it radiated through the speakers and liberated across my skin. I started to experience music in a manner like never before. Ere aspect of a live concert being raw and unedited was so fulfilling and I started to feel the urge to let go of my inhibitions and Join my annalistic brethren in the head banging, fist pumping Joy of the rock and roll experience.
Some people being overwhelmed by the music lost control of their bodies. What started as a mere distraction, quickly developed into a pit of rage induced delirium. I observed men bash their bodies into one another in such a violent manner that many were being thrown to the ground. But too much of my amazement a fist was never thrown, instead when someone was knocked to the ground many rushed to his aid to help him back up. This act of civility seemed so out of place that it made the experience all the more memorable.
The hours past like moments, the band was finishing its final encore and the exhausted crowd began to disperse. The experience was over but the effects were not. I was capable of letting go of worry and responsibility for a few hours and Just live in the moment. This is foreign and taboo in my normal life, I am unable recall the last time I felt that kind of freedom. The days that followed were filled with me reenacting the events of that night to the smallest detail within my mind. I like my father, have a similar story I can tell my future son about the experience I had at my first rock concert.