When you have this particular epiphany mine came in my forties, if memory serves you just say to yourself, Self, you dont have to listen to music just because some dumbass says its hip and you cannot be hip unless you also listen to it. Listen to music you like. Embracing this philosophy saved me many hours of boredom, listening to Dave Matthews and pretending to like it.
(I will hear Dave at the festival tomorrow, to try to see what the fuss is all about it. My wife tells me he is pure sex, so I will do what I can to capitalize on any inroads Dave makes into her erogenous zones. But come on what is the deal with Dave Matthews? Hes Jack Lemmon in 1957 with a deeply affected singing voice. If I want to see Ensign Pulver or Under the Yum Yum Tree, Ill search deep cable for the Lemmon film festival.)
But its fun to watch the crowd at the festival. This afternoon, it was overrun with the deeply tanned and supple college-kid crowd. But as the sun inched out the door, the geezers came out. Maybe they had to work this afternoon, or take the grandkids to see The Dark Knight, or maybe it was tire-rotation day at Firestone. They sure as hell werent here earlier when I strolled the grounds, half-expecting them to pull me aside and say I did not pass the coolness code.
But now my fellow geezers are here, many of them in tie-dyed glory. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers take the stage and for those of my generation, its like an audience with the pop. God bless you, Tom. Were real proud of you down in Florida.
Its always been hard to be young, to feel the suffocating crush of peer pressure. The kids at this festival are so intent on not being uncool. And me, so obviously uncool, just could not give two shits what they think.
One of my last big-concert outings was about a decade ago, when I took my older children then on the crest of turning 20 to see Phish in concert. That was a festival of people watching. It was as if Id fallen into a time-warp cavern and all of my trying-so-hard-to-be-cool friends from the 1970s had materialized in the parking lot outside the stadium.
Fatty burrito, duuuude? a hirsute young man asked me.
Fatty? Did that mean it was loaded, sort of the Mexicali version of the hashish brownie? I never found out. I passed on the burrito.
I was so enamored of the parking-lot hippie culture kids of the 1990s trying so hard to embrace the culture and lifestyle of my generation that I pitched a book on it to my editor at the publishing house. Alas, she passed on the idea.
But there was something so innocent and charming about that Phish crowd. It was like seeing my adolescence pressed under glass. And I liked the music too.
Theres a little bit of that here, but you have to look for it. The Mile High Music Festival is exceptional well organized. But for the raging heat which the promoters are apparently unable to control this is a well-managed, enjoyable event. But the nearly mile-long vender row is all corporate. All of your favorite brand names have booths here.
Oh, where have you gone, fatty burrito man?
I could bemoan corporate sponsorship at the expense of the dudes and dudettes selling their homemades from their Colemans. I could go off on a rant, if I wanted to.
But corporate or not, this festival still offers that most magnificent of pleasures watching other human beings at play.
I have seen, in the last five hours, some of the most awesome examples of humanity Ive ever seen. But beyond the physical beauty, its a wondrous experience even for a geezer such as myself to be among so many thousands of people having so much fun in one place at one time.