Wednesday, July 30, 2008

GUEST POST: How To Blend In At A Cool/Hip Rock Show If You Are An Older White male

This anonymous post comes in response to my worry that if I went to the Monotonix show, I would be hopelessly out of place. If you've seen them on YouTube, you know why. Though I'm older than many of you, the same rules apply if you're creeping into the mid-to-upper 30's, agewise. Given the popularity of the "Cougar" movement, I suspect older women are fine however they wish to present themselves.

Silver Jews--"Slow Education" (mp3)
Monotonix--"Summers and Autumns" (mp3)
My Bloody Valentine--"Only Shallow" (mp3)

When I say cool/hip rock show, I’m not talking about R.E.M., ColdPlay, or even a RadioHead show. I’m talking about traveling to an intimate club (800 people or less and/or the Pitchfork Music Festival) to view something along the lines of Times New Viking, Deerhoof, a Slint or Mission of Burma reunion, or say the Monotonix at JJ Bohmias on September 17th of this here very year in Choo Choo City.

Unless you are Robert Pollard, Thurston Moore, J Mascis, Frank Black or Tom Waits, here are a few tips for the rest of us.

1) Avoid bright colors. In the cool/hip world, bright colors signify country clubs, yacht clubs, bridge clubs, and any other type of club you can think of except the COOL club.

2) What should you wear? Khaki or gray shorts always work in the summer. Leave the pleated ones at home. Solid color drab t-shirts (with pocket) are a no attention getter which is good. Black shoes with white socks or running shoes with black socks is always IN at the rock club. In the winter, Levis jeans with brown or black boots, t-shirt and wool sweater will never get you laughed at or thrown out. Always wear an interesting hat. This hides age and political haircuts well, and you can advertise something interesting/cool in a low key way.

The one I like to pull out for such occasions is the Texaco Hat. Shouldn’t have to explain this one. It’s in keeping with that gas station attendant look everyone else is going to have. Nobody else in the place will have 1 like it. Put a star in your car is kinda industrial and cool. I know it has the fossil fuel thing going, but politically correct only matters at a moe. or Dave Mathews show, in which case I would be pulling out my HEMP wardrobe. If it makes you feel better, wear something touting farm equipment or anything having to do with industrial supplies or cleaning. Irony always works as well….believe it or not, NASCAR and topsiders can be worked together if done right.

3) If you were one of the many unfortunates to get an easily viewable tattoo in your 20’s, it’s time to hide it……That is unless you are reasonably fit and trim. Nothing bums the kids out more than seeing some fat, old, white man, with a ying/yang, tribal band, or any other 90’s cliché tattoo at a cool rock show. I lucked out. I always chose buying alcohol over buying tattoos in the 90’s.

4) Speaking of buying alcohol, stick with Budweiser. PBR is cool and it’s good, but it might signal trying too hard. It’s up to you. You won’t get too much grief ordering either. Just steer clear of the following: Sam Adams or Amstel light. Yuppie ODOULS = old alcoholic? Even if you are, just order water or a soft drink. Micheloeb Ultra is definitely a NO, NO in public….Ok in the privacy of your home with friends. Drink drinks are always fine in the rock club, but I tend to steer clear of these in my old age.

5) So, how do you act in the club? You don’t. If you have done everything appropriately, the over-40 white male should essentially become invisible. Just find yourself a nice corner of the club (preferably near the bar) and enjoy the show.

Final thoughts: it never hurts to have some younger cooler friends/acquaintances to attend these shows with you. It’s definitely an added piece of camouflage. And finally, when in doubt on any decision, you gotta ask yourself, “Would Tom Waits do this?” Whether the answer is no or yes, well, you got your answer.

See you at JJ’s in September.

Music by these bands is available online at all the usual locations.


jbradburn said...

This is the part of middle-age-dom that one is never prepared for.

My "your not 21 anymore" moment came at a college football game. I arrived at a port-a-john at the same time as a cute co-ed. I chivalrously gestured for her to go first.

She politely replied "Thank you, sir."

Bob said...

I wish I'd known that about the Michelob Ultra.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Middle Age Guy Manners,

I have a Frederick Douglass t-shirt that I like a lot. Will that work in the club scene?