Back when I was a teenager in high school, I was working freelance to help folks with their websites. Through a series of strange circumstances, I found myself with a client who worked for Warner Bros. He needed someone to help him create the website presence for some well known bands of the time.
Over the course of the work, I got to know the client a bit. He’d throw me a bone very once in a while, with this little perk or that. I got a pair of drumsticks that were used during a show in Europe once. Which I promptly gave away to my crush at the time. I had backstage passes for a show in Chicago another time, but turned it down since that same crush had declined to go with me. I guess in hindsight the crush was a little one sided.
Despite having worked for the band for a couple of years, I never made it out to a show. I moved on, started my career after high school, and that was that.
One afternoon while living in Manila I get a text from my past client.
“Yo, we’re in Manila for a show! Wanna watch?”
Uhh, yes please.
Well, ok, the conversation didn’t quite go that smoothly. Going outside my comfort zone, depsite living in a third world country, was still a bit much to ask of me. But after some convicing from friends, I agreed to go. How could I pass up such an opportunity?
They were playing at the Araneta Coliseum, not too far from where I was living. I arrived and immediately got ushered in. My client had told them to expect me.
We met in the lobby and caught up. I told him about life in Manila, life after highschool, the unfortunate result of the drumsticks he’d given me. He told me about his touring schedule, his life back stateside, and all the adventures he’d been on with the band.
He gave me a tour of the backstage area. I told him, “Wow. Taylor Swift walked these halls just a few short months ago.”
“Uhh, you sure this is the concert for you?” he asked.
The next thing I know I’m standing to the side of the stage.
“Here, put these in when they start playing.” He handed me a pair of earplugs.
“Is it gonna be that loud?” I asked, not knowing any better.
“Yes. Very loud,” he said before dashing off backstage. He had the job of filming for the night and needed to get setup.
I waited patiently for the concert to start, just admiring where I was. “How many people get to be in this kind of place, where I’m standing right now?”
Fan girls in the crowd started waving at me. “I think they want your number,” one of the security guards said with a smile. I couldn’t think why. Did they think I was part of the crew or something? What was I going to say? “Yeah, I built their website like 6 years ago.” I just smiled and waved back at them.
The concert started. My ears rang out in pain. “Oh yeah, the earplugs.”
Even with those suckers jammed deep into my ear canal I could still hear the songs clear as day. Some I remembered from my teenage years, most I’d never heard before. Heavy metal, admittedly, isn’t quite my thing. But the fond memories from the songs I’d listened to back in the day were nice.
The songs transitioned neatly one into the other. The crowd would sing along. I began to notice how odd goth punk Asians looked. I’d only been around clean cut professionals this far into my stay. Then I saw underwear being thrown on stage. “Woah, I guess Asians aren’t all so innocent after all,” I thought.
The music died down, the band walked off stage. The crowd cheered for an encore. I started to get my things together to leave. Noticing this, the security guard told me, “No no, they’re scheduled to do an encore. Just wait.” So all that chanting isn’t to get them to do it? My earth was shattered. And sure enough, like clockwork, they came back out for one last song.
The concert ended, I talked some more with my former client, thanking him for a once in a lifetime experience. I walked out of the arena, hailed a taxi to take me back home. “Remarkable,” I thought, reflecting back on the experience. Then I slipped on my headphones.
🎵 “Our song is the slammin’ screen door! Sneakin’ out late tappin’ on your window!” 🎵
Ah. Maybe that wasn’t the concert for me. But it sure was awesome.