Hejira

i am a prog rock chick

february 26. 2000

this is from last week...oh wellI'm one of those people who goes to Tori Amos, Ani DiFranco, Dar Williams kind of concerts...folksy, gentle kind of concerts where everyone is happy and blissful and there's a general feeling of good will all around. So you can see how going to see Dream Theater was a complete departure for me.

I really only became a fan of DT last summer, when I got the "you must have this album or your life will have no meaning" spiel from Dave. I was visiting my friend Paul in East Stroudsburg in July and we happened upon a nice little used CD store and I found "Images and Words". So what the heck, it was ten bucks, I bought it. Drove home on Route 80 with the first taste of prog rock in my mouth. I distinctly remember being kind of ho-hum about it, mostly because it was completely unlike anything I was listening to at the time.

But, like many things, it grew on me. Then in October I got their new album "Scenes from a Memory", and forget it, I was off the races. All their other albums were purchased in quick succession. The beginning of January found me with tickets to see them in NYC. Finally, I thought, I am hip. I am tough. No more weepy Tori or angry lesbian music for me. I am a PROG ROCK CHICK.

The line that wrapped around the block, which I had assumed was the line for Miss Saigon, turned out to be the line for Dream Theater. The turnout was amazing, but considering it was their hometown, not surprising. Once in line, we found ourselves with some crazy kids, friends of Dave's, from the Ystejam mailing list. They turned out to be as perverse as Dave can sometimes be, so he was in good company. It was a most amusing time.

Once inside, after checking coats and bags, buying the obligatory overpriced tour shirts, we went into the ballroom proper. It had a kind of smoky, gothic feel to it, the walls and ceiling looking well worn and dirty. Finally, the tension mounting, the crowd salivating, the pot smoke wafting through the air, the lights went down. Then came the "tick tick tick" of a pocket watch that signified the beginning of the album. They were going to play the entire album all the way through with no interruptions.

"Close your eyes and begin to relax..." A collective scream rose from the crowd, I found myself being involuntary borne towards the front of the stage. I eventually lost sight of Dave and Scott in the melee, but later I managed to spot them a little ways back. I somehow ended up nearly at the stage, to the right a little, and right in front of the ten foot speakers. Needless to say, I had earplugs in (tissues, no less) and all the sound I could hear was dominated by bass.

I was being pushed, people were crowd surfing above me, I nearly fell several times. I should have, by all logical accounts, been scared out of my mind. But I wasn't. I suspect I had a stupid grin plastered on my face. I had NEVER experienced anything like this. It was an amazing adrenaline rush that just wouldn't stop until the last song was over. I hate to sound cheesy, but despite all the pushing and the moshing, there was a real feeling of unity within the crowd. All of us going collectively apeshit for some great music. I think the high point was during the song "Home". There was just this explosion of energy from the crowd, from the musicians...everything seemed to chaotic and yet it was so amazing.

Once they finished doing the entire album, they came out again to do some more songs from their previous albums. Dave managed to get up in front with me, although we lost Scott somewhere along the line. Everything started spinning out of control when they played "Pull me Under" from "Images and Words". I was separated from Dave by the crowd from him again, and ended getting even nearer to the front of the stage.

There was this guy right in back of me who had his hands on my shoulders. Which wasn't a big deal, because it was crowded and everyone was crowded together. Then I felt his hands on my ass. At first I wasn't sure, I was too distracted by the music and crowd and trying to stay standing, but I gradually became aware of it. I tried to move away, but the crowd wouldn't move. I know I should have hit him, or kneed him in the crotch or at least used a few strong words, but I didn't. I don't know why I didn't, I felt like a dork afterward for not doing anything about it. Nothing like being groped at a Dream Theater concert. Ew. Ew. I saw the creep after the concert, as everyone was leaving, and I thought about going up to him and saying something then, but I don't think it would have accomplished much of anything. I should have hit him where it hurts while we were in the crowd. Dammit, I am such a wimp. That was the only negative thing marring an otherwise amazing concert.

I stumbled out there, senses overtaxed, hungry, sleepy and VERY thristy. I felt like I had been run over by a truck, but it was a good kind of tiredness. I had survived my first prog rock concert intact.