Mostly, this manifests itself in not talking, which I suppose can be annoying to the person you're with, but I think my friend was doing pretty much the same thing. I'm sure we would have been perfectly happy not saying a damn thing all day--for me, though, that sort of conversation-free existence begs for cuddly leaning on each other in some kind of semi-dazed, totally relaxed state, but not only are we not that kind of friends, we also didn't indulge in any of the abundant cannabis floating around that evening. Might have helped.
I'm always struck by the huge variety of people at giant festivals, from absolute die-hard fans of a particular band, to those who thought, "Meh, it's a decent way to spend a Saturday and/or Its a good reason to drink, and everyone in between. We met Mike and his wife Desiree, who travel all over the country, going to Dave Matthews Band shows, and who chastised my friend for not being excited enough about being in the presence of Dave.
I guess everybody needs some kind of church. Theirs was the Church of Dave. And, much like anyone else moved by some Holy Spirit, they couldn't help themselves from having a little two-person revival, right there in front of us--dancing, singing, stomping, hands in the air, emulating the man himself. We liked Mike and Desiree, even though they thought us sinners.
Kyle, the happy-drunk, maybe-21 year old formerly known as Red Shirt Guy (I insisted he tell me his name while we were both grooving to Ozomatli) never once lost his spunk--you know how some people get hammered early in the day, and sometime around 8PM, you spot them sitting alone and puking somewhere? Not Kyle. Two and a half hours into Dave Matthews, he came stomping through our row, high-fiving people, still going strong.
We ran into some media people, covering the event for their various outlets, and because we are gluttons for punishment, walked up to the promotional vehicle from a radio station where my friend and I both used to work, and introduced ourselves to young children who insisted that they were all disc jockeys there, just like we used to be. I'm certain that I was never that young when I worked in radio. The children stared at us blankly when we explained that we used to be them. I'm sure I would have never stared blankly at a hundred and fifty-year-old woman at a rock concert when I worked in radio. My friend talked them out of some swag, which I gave to my daughter when I got home, after I also gave her the history lesson on the significance of an ugly pink t-shirt with Black Eyed Peas lyrics printed on the back. And I would like it noted that it wasn't the Peas lyrics that made it ugly, it's just a nasty color pink. My daughter seemed to like the shirt, and the story.
There were other, random people--the guy who, 3 or 4 songs into the Dave Matthews set, loudly asked, "Is he gonna play anything I know?", and the couple directly behind us who not only knew, but sang, every song, all while simultaneously entertaining their 4 year-old son, Micah. To my left was a woman of color from Minneapolis, and to her left, her very Caucasian sister and her two sons, from Great Falls, Montana. At the campground, reporter Ted and his son were our neighbors. The son played guitar while his father tapped away on his laptop after the show at midnight, trying to make a deadline.
30,000 stories, and ours--a couple of old friends with minds mostly elsewhere, people-watching and trying to unwind, both of us with hearts freshly scrambled by separate love affairs that didn't work out the way he had hoped. What a weird mood we were in.
There are people who believe, or want to believe, that shaking your butt for a couple of hours makes all the bad go away, right away, and some of those people voiced their confusion with us, two supposed betrayers of happiness, with our asses firmly planted in seats. I realize with some sadness that I'm much nearer the end of confusion and loneliness than my friend, and I feel for him tonight as I write, but also admit that the only way I was able to shut out the world and go to sleep myself last night was by thinking of someone I wished was there with me. Comfort. It's the same way I fell asleep the night before last, and all of the nights before that, for many, many months.
It is strangely appropriate that we were there to see a man who's most recent lyrics speak of loss, and also honor a dear friend. Hopefully, in singing those words, he can at least make the bad go away, a bit at a time, much the way it works for us in the listening.