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I’m With the Band

Let me get one thing straight from the start—I’m not a groupie. I don’t want to be friends with, hug, kiss, or sleep with any member of any band.

I was a poor college student at a time when Napster was being blamed for killing the music industry and bands were limiting their free show schedules to hometowns only. I love music and get bored easily. That’s it. That’s how it all started.

That’s why, for years, my camera bag had a dozen or so All Access passes clipped to the strap and why, at first, they were all homemade at Kinkos for shows I never attended. The phrase “I’m with the band” wasn’t my typical go-to tool but it slipped out every once in a while. More often than not I’d drop the name of my college newspaper or the radio station I did overnights at as if the promoter should recognize the immense prestige those call letters held. They’d glance at my collection of passes and wave me in.

By the time I really belonged on any list, I’d worn my favorite pair of Chuck Taylors to well over three hundred shows. I’d interviewed dozens of bands and bought a lifetime total of zero concert tickets.

I ended up backstage with Ben Folds and Guster in Kansas City and in a hotel with The Strokes in Tulsa. I sat in an old van with The Aquabats and interviewed The Flaming Lips on a curb outside some bar in Stillwater.

It was a wild ride that led to some pretty jacked up stories—someday I’ll tell you about the bassist who did a backflip off his amp after downing a 40 and never missed a note—but the point of my telling you all this is to say that life is incredibly short. Don’t waste it. Don’t sneak into concerts either, even if it’s going to be a great show, because they take that a lot more seriously nowadays. But don’t waste the short time you have on this beautiful, twirling rock either. You shouldn’t be sitting inside with artificial experiences when you could be out living real ones and collecting stories of your own.

Those first few passes—the fake ones—looked pretty good but the real ones were even better. Use that implied metaphor how you will as long as you get out there and live a little. Be creative. Have fun. Work hard for what you want and avoid crappy music—especially live, crappy music.

There are only a few things in life that are worth what they cost—family, friends, adventures, a great pair of headphones, and an education—everything else can be taken or left along the road to the next show, the next experience, the next adventure.

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