Polly and I drove to Fort Wayne, Indiana last night to hear country singer Darius Rucker in concert, along with David Nail and Eli Young Band. We had a delightful time. This was our first country concert. Prior to this, we attended a Matt Nathanson concert in Pontiac, Michigan and a Collective Soul concert at Pierre’s in Fort Wayne.
We stopped at our favorite restaurant, Mad Anthony’s in Auburn, before driving to Allen County War Memorial Coliseum. We arrived at the Coliseum, eighty minutes before the start of the concert. Parking cost $5.00 and we able to park fairly close to the Coliseum entrance. Tickets for the concert cost 45.00 each. We had great seats, on the floor, four rows back. There was what they called a pit section in front of us where ticket holders could stand. We noticed that most everyone in the pit section was much,much younger than us. Polly remarked that she couldn’t imagine standing for four hours. I laughed and said, I couldn’t imagine standing for a half hour let alone four hours. Such is the life of the old woman and her handicapped side kick.
The staff at the Coliseum was quite helpful. The man at the main entry was in a wheelchair. We talked briefly, and then I asked him if he was a carrot top when he was a kid? He laughed, and said yes. He had a complexion similar to mine, and both of us had a hair color that was a washed out reminder of the bright red hair we once had. He pointed us to the elevator, and after waiting for about five minutes, the elevator door opened and we got in. Polly hadn’t pulled me in quite far enough, so when the door started to close, it smacked the feet of my wheelchair. This was the first of what would be many smacks during the concert.
After we exited the elevator, we motored down a long hallway to the arena. As we entered, one staff member looked at me and said, handicapped? (I thought, what gave it away) He then pointed to an open section towards the back of the arena. He said that this is where all the handicapped people sit. (the back of the bus?) I told him that we had tickets for section 204. He said, oh, uh, ok and he directed us to our seats
About halfway to our seats, we noticed what looked like a huge speed bump. This bump was where they ran the cables and wires for the soundboard, lighting, and audio-visual equipment. Polly feared she would not be able to push my fat ass over the bump, but with a little help, we were able to get over the bump with me still in the chair. Once we arrived at our seats, the staff was quite helpful with arranging things so my wheelchair could be parked properly.
To the left of us sat a young man with spinal bifida and his girlfriend. To the right of us sat several adult women, including one woman in a wheelchair. Sitting directly in back of us were some adult men and women who all knew each other. The woman in back of me, by the end of the night, would prove to be quite a problem. As the concert wore on, and as the level of alcohol in her bloodstream increased, she started banging into the back of my wheelchair. Every bump sent a painful jolt through my body. I was already over medicated, knowing I would likely be bumped and jostled around, but this lady beat me like a dominatrix. About 3/4th’s of the way through the concert, I rolled my wheelchair a few inches forward, hoping to put an end to her thoughtless behavior. The woman just moved forward, and continued to bump my wheelchair. Polly said, at times, the woman was hanging on to the wheelchair handles. I suspect this helped her keep from falling over. (I tend to endure rather than having conflict in public)
The concert started promptly at 7:00 P.M. David Nail sang first. He did a wonderful job. Polly and I didn’t really know any of his music, so it was nice to be exposed to a new artist. Next up was Eli Young Band.(we thought Eli Young was a person, but the band is made of two men with the last names of Eli and Young) My oldest son had already told us that Eli Young Band was a kick-ass band, and he was right. These guys could flat play. Mike Eli is the lead singer for the band. His vocals started strong, but towards the end of their hour set, his voice became quite raspy. Our only complaint about Eli Young Band is that the sound was not mixed properly, with the instruments overplaying the vocals. I worried that this problem would continue when Rucker sang, but whoever did the mixing for Rucker had everything mixed just right.
Darius Rucker was who we came to see, and he proved to be everything we hoped he would be. Rucker sang for about an hour and forty minutes. He sang songs from his solo albums, along with a number of songs from his time as lead singer for Hootie and the Blowfish. Rucker’s vocals were crisp and we loved every moment of his concert. We sang along with many of the songs, especially the Hootie and the Blowfish songs.
Polly and I love listening to live music. There is just something about the live music experience that can not be duplicated at home. In many ways, the emotions that are stirred during a live concert are like the emotions stirred during a revival service. I whispered to Polly that the concert has a “religious” feeling to it, minus Jesus of course. The triune god of country music is alcohol, southern life, and heartbreak. But hey, they will all be in church on Sunday!
The only real negative came towards the end of the concert when a graphic of the Duck Dynasty guys was displayed on the video screen. The crowd erupted in wild cheers. Bruce? I lifted my right arm and hand into the air and flipped off the video screen. Polly laughed. I wanted everyone around me to know that there was least one liberal in the crowd. (Country fans tend to be white, working class,right-wing, and Republican, Ask the Dixie Chicks what happens when you cross this crowd)
After the concert ended, we waited until the arena was almost empty. I tend to panic a bit if we try to navigate the wheelchair though a crowd, so we usually wait until everyone clears out before we leave. The workers came out and began putting the chairs away while we were sitting there. The workers were overwhelmingly African-American. During the concert, we saw two African-Americans, one of which was Darius Rucker. This was definitely a white man’s concert. As far as most of the workers being African-American? That’s a subject for another day. (quick, name all the non-white country singers you know)
All in all, Polly and I had a great time. Driving home was treacherous, adding a half hour to our 45 mile drive home. We were exhausted, well I started the day exhausted. Polly quickly fell asleep, and I, just like every other night, dreaded my least favorite time of day. Finally, around 4:15 AM, the drugs won the battle and I fell asleep. Was it worth it? It sure was. Polly and I were confined by the girdle of our religious beliefs for many years. It is nice to be able to go out on the town without considering what the Bible says or what would Jesus do. Since the sun is starting to set in West for us, we have a lot of things we want to do and experience. In many ways, Polly and I are now, for the first time, living our teenage and young adult years. Too bad we don’t have the bodies to match the time period!
Sadly, I have no pictures to share with readers. I called the Coliseum about their photography policy and they told me that I could bring a professional camera as long as the detachable lens was not longer than 3 1/2 inches. When we got to the Coliseum, there were signs posted that stated the artists were not permitting the use of any camera with a detachable lens. I tried to take some shitty pictures with Polly’s shitty cell phone, and, well, shitty + shitty=shitty. The cell phone camera was not able to process the ambient light properly. While this upset me at first, I finally settled down and realized that no-camera was a good thing. Sometimes, while I am busy focusing on getting a great shot of the “experience”, I end up missing THE experience. (I do plan to add a decent point and shoot camera to my wish need list)
I noticed that Casting Crowns, a contemporary Christian band, is going to be at the Coliseum in a few weeks. Tickets? 45.00/25.00 I laughed, and said to Polly, “ministering” has turned out to be quite lucrative for Casting Crowns. (one of our favorite groups when we were Christians)