There are certain expectations I have when I go to a rock concert.
I expect to get beer sloshed on my shoes by a tall broad-shouldered man when he spontaneously begins cheering and thrusts the two beers he’s holding in the air. I expect that at some point I will wait in line for 20 minutes while a petite bleached-blonde in a shredded concert tee pukes on the only working toilet. I also expect that at some point during the evening—possibly more than once—someone who is not my husband will grab my butt. Not that there is anything particularly magnetic about my butt—it’s pretty average really—but it happens.
Recently, I traveled to LA to see my first Rush concert.
Rush concerts have their own special sub-category of expectations because Rush fans are notoriously stereotyped. I expected to see a middle-aged cargo-shorts-wearing celebration of geekdom. I wasn’t disappointed.
Yes, there were the 50-somethings in their cargo shorts and freshly purchased $65 Rush concert tees. There were also the overweight shirtless guys with “Rush” written in black Sharpie across their chests. And there were the guys who carried the Canadian flag, which they unfurled during the concert as a nod to the band’s home country.
There were the men who brought their binoculars and their sons—or maybe their grandsons, in some cases I couldn’t tell. And there were the guys with the ultimate trifecta of cargos, Rush tees, and fanny packs.
The fanny-pack guy happened to be with Ron and me. “It’s convenient,” he explained, “I can carry my phone, my cards, and everything.” (His daughter had told him it is en vogue once again for a man to wear a fanny pack.)
I had the distinction of being one of the few girls at the concert.
“Girls don’t go to Rush concerts,” I was told by several attendees.
I have a couple of theories for this. The first being that as wonderfully talented as the band is, they don’t have the swagger or charisma that Mick Jagger had in the day, nor do they have the abs of today’s Adam Levine of Maroon 5 or the looks of a Jon Bon Jovi. They also don’t croon romantic lyrics or soft yearning melodies. What they have is a unique sound and a spot-on, technical way of playing. They don’t miss a beat; you won’t hear an off note. A recent Rolling Stone cover discussed how some of the band members rehearse for rehearsal. That’s dedication, but more than that, it’s not the haphazard, creative, bad-boy playing that some of the sexier male rock stars employ.
But this concert was different. It was rumored to be their last tour, and apparently female fans had shed their invisibility cloaks and stepped out, proudly revealing their Rush love.
After hearing several men throughout the night comment on the surprising number of women at the concert, I decided to put on my reporter’s hat and ask for some insight.
There are two types of hair at a Rush concert: long man-hair and no hair. Two of the hairier men were standing in the aisle reserved for people needing physical assistance. During certain points they would stand and bang their heads causing their hair—which flowed mid-way down the back of their cargo shorts—to thrash forward and back as they simultaneously played air guitar like they were competing for the golden pick of awesomeness.
I asked the hair duo what was fueling their virtual performance, and one of them replied, “It’s just Rush, they are just epic.” An answer I expected, so I asked them if they agreed with the comments going around the venue that there were more women than usual in attendance.
“Yeah, there are some outrageous babes that love Rush. Like yourself,” one of them said.
His comment about babes wasn’t even said in a sleazy way. His polite, respectful way of throwing out a line and hoping for a bite without expecting one kind of summed up the fans I encountered.
Suddenly, I remembered how anytime we tried to lift our phones to take a picture of the band, people walking by would actually duck so as not to interfere with our picture. The Canadian flag guys even unfurled their flag and let me take a picture with it. Men (because yes, there were still mostly men there) were cognizant of where their beer was sloshing, and they paid great attention to not spilling it on me. In fact, on three different occasions I had someone clink my cup as they passed in a friendly “cheers.” And in our tightly crammed seats, our seat neighbors pre-emptively told us they were OK with us asking them to stand when it was time for us to pass by them to get out of our seats.
And did I mention no one grabbed my butt?
In short, Rush fans were NICE. Like, really polite, friendly, and pleasant. That was the one expectation I totally didn’t expect. It didn’t fit in with the whole rock concert vibe.
Maybe there should be higher expectations for all rock concerts. Maybe there should be more courtesy extended and manners displayed at these events. Or maybe I’m just a middle-aged Rush fan.
Other rockers take note, manners can be hot, too. Shelly Cone can be reached at [email protected].