Partway through my friends’ New Year’s Eve party, I caught a bus downtown to the Headstones concert at the Shaw conference centre.
The last concert I went to there had an “all-ages” setup, with the draft beer confined to a standing-room cavern at the back. This time it was like my friend D had described, most of the room filled with round tables and chairs, and the back rows of tables even had friendly looking candles in glass as well as tablecloths. I got there during the second band of the night, Tupelo Honey. I hadn’t heard them before but they were local and I thought they were good, and also their lead singer looked like an old friend which is a plus. For the end of that set I was standing a few rows from the front, comfortable and dancing, so I decided to move up as I could between sets, until I had a tiny piece of real estate on the centre of the barricade. This wasn’t as comfortable, because there were a couple of drunk guys being a little aggressive with other and smarmy with me, and when the concert promoters came on stage to count down to midnight the one guy made a really creepy pitch for kissing strangers ‘and if you can’t get a kiss get a grope’ and stuff like that.
Still, I stuck it out and then the Headstones came on and started to play Tweeter and the Monkeyman and I was the closest fan to Hugh Dillon and he looked and sounded just like on television only right there in front of me sweaty and happy and full of energy and yelling “fuck” a lot. By then I’d worked out the territorial claims to my side, but as the show continued the crowd behind was dancing and thrusting forward and I kept getting elbows in my back and the barricade in my front, so after a couple of songs I found a friendly big guy behind me to swing me backwards and I got out of the standing-room crowd. The crowd was a funny mix of intent music fans and dressed up people out for a party evening, some dressed in little sparkly dresses and some dressed in Team Canada hockey sweaters. As I’d predicted, I wasn’t the only one in my age group, and there wasn’t as much cellphone-documentation up close to the stage as there was at Death Cab for Cutie.
I saw no appeal in paying concert-hall prices for a Canadian or Coors Light when I was working on not being hung over anyway, so my choices were basically a $3 Sprite or a $4 bottled water, both with the caps removed. I sat down and cooled down, then ambled back to the side of the crowd with my drink and got pretty close without being squished. I didn’t stay for the encore, (and I knew from earlier setlists that they hadn’t played my favourite song this tour).
I didn’t see any taxis and caught a bus from, whatever that big bus stop is called with the sliding-doors heated shelter (and where there was once a fatal altercation, although not when I was there), back to my little car and home before 2am. Big-picture thanks to the family member who recommended the Headstones to me in the first place back in 2007 or so.