The air was as full of tension as the room was full of people. We could feel the eyes from the back of the room that narrowed a little bit more every time another word came from Adam’s mouth. You see, we were at Messiah College – definitely not a Bible Belt school, but a churchy one nonetheless. And the guy up on stage didn’t seem to pay a lick of mind to the sanctified air. It sure seemed like every other word out of Adam Duritz’s mouth was a dagger, and I expected the lights to come up and the band to be ushered off stage any second. Fortunately, it didn’t. The Counting Crows were transcendent.
We got inside about three or four songs into Sixpence’s set. The crowd was apathetic, and the band wasn’t much better. I’m a big fan of Leigh and the gang, but the show was remarkably bland. The songs were fine, they sounded like the album.
The venue (a.k.a. gym) was Standing Room Only and the smell from a couple thousand sweaty college kids was overpowering at times. We had to wait about an hour in between sets, all the while being subjected to some collegian’s idea of a party music mix (although anybody who plays The Cars can’t be all bad).
The lights went down, the screams went up, and the band walked out. First song: Have You Seen Me Lately. We were standing probably about 50-75 feet from the stage. I’ve talked to lots of artists before, been up close and personal with quite a few, and been way in the distance from guys like Billy Joel and Dave Matthews. Adam Duritz (and the boys) is the first big time star that I’ve seen perform that close up.
I’m not sure if he was high that night (a distinct possibility), but he was so vibrant and likable that the music almost became secondary, and, all of a sudden, it was Adam’s night. (If this sounds a bit too much like idol worship, don’t worry, it is).
The vibe in the room changed a bit the first time that the “shit” flowed out of his mouth (there’s a mental picture for you). Then the man took the profanity to a level heretofore unseen at Messiah College, at one point inserting a whole verse (consisting in large part of the phrase “Fuck Christmas”) into “Goodnight, Elizabeth.” And it was wonderful. He was funny and eloquent.
There was a contingent of old folks in the back of the room – faculty, parents, who knows. I didn’t get a look at them during the show, but I could feel their eyes drilling through the back of my head and into Adam’s face. The tension was to be loved. My only wish was that I had felt this at Ouachita, just once.
The rest of the band was just as great – Ben standing up on the monitor like Leo in Titanic, playing the accordion on “Omaha.” Dave coming back from the bathroom with toilet paper stuck to his shoe.
Here’s the thing, though: we have two children. And, while our babysitter was wonderful, we had to leave the concert a bit early – we missed the last five songs. And, being the old freakin’ man that I am, I actually found myself saying, “Well, at least we’ll miss the traffic” and (here’s the really scary part) I believed it as I said it. Oh well, I guess I had to grow up sometime.
I don’t say this lightly: this was the best concert I’ve ever been to. That puts them ahead of Del McCoury, Dave Matthews, Bill Mallonee (the lightning should be striking any second now), Over the Rhine (my gosh, I feel like a traitor), even Steven Curtis Chapman.
Well, I've finally figured out my mistake. I had a lousy 3.0 GPA in college and, ever since, I've been trying to figure out why. Was I lazy? Did I party too much? Is it because I got married while still in school? Was I easily distractable? Did I have a learning disability? Did I just not care?