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I Was At a Concert Recently...

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I was at a concert recently. An intimate acoustic set by the lead singer of a band considered mildly popular and progressive in some circles. Despite the short twenty-five minute drive from our house, my brother and I arrived an hour late. Lost in the dark maze of New American Suburbia, we found ourselves on streets with overly patriotic names like Eagle Drive and Lincoln Boulevard. Pulling off the highway, we turned on JFK Avenue, an inconspicuous street lined with McMansions and trimmed green hedges, just like every other street near it. For fear of disturbing our Upper Middle Class-Never-Seen-A-Dark-Skinned-Person-In-Their-Life brethren, we dared not knock on one of their doors for directions. We instead wandered onto some indistinct motorway with bright lights and all your standard conventions of the new American dream, McDonald’s and Gap and Starbucks, etc.
After some skillful directionless driving and a spot of luck, my brother and I arrived at the rather dingy club, a hole in the wall, an eyesore in the otherwise whitewashed city of South Hackensack. Lined out the door were zig-zagging queues of overly pretentious-too-cool-for-school teenagers. We skipped the line. Walking with an air of authority we had no right having, we bought tickets at the blackened wood chipped door from the angry bouncer obviously compensating for something. His buff chest and grizzled goatee said “Don’t mess with me” but a little New York attitude revealed him more harmless than the guy giving the attitude, me. We entered to find the dim room full, packed with little scenesters and ultra-hipsters standing in neat little circles with their arms crossed, wearing girls jeans, t-shirts with ironic catchphrases, and the occasional girl with a hoody, black or blonde hair, and too much eyeliner. They spoke with a condescending air, discussing unironically how this band or that sold out or lost its touch.
It was standing in this crowd that I suddenly began to feel quite out of place, me with my grey sweatpants and striped black & dark grey sweater. I too had long hair with bangs that swept to the left and covered only one of my eyes yet I felt like I was inherently different. I was there for the music, and maybe so was everyone else, but it just felt like a good amount of these hipsters were there for the look. Their gait, their poses, said to me, “Look at me, Look at how cool I am, here at this show seeing what I perceive to be an underground band.” My brother, with his usual lack of grammar, reiterated my internal view point, commenting on the amount of people wearing ridiculous clothes “Why they wearin’ big white sunglasses inna club that’s darker than the night outside?” he asked me. I shrugged. I had no answer for him.
After a few minutes of pondering his previous question, I started with a vague observation about the entire crowd. “You know,” I told him, “they are all more concerned with how everyone around them sees them. They want to be the fad starters, all trying to be ahead of the curve. Well that’s not me. That’s why I’m here in sweatpants.”





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