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A Rock and Roll Lifestyle

Touring bands, gigging musicians, and mega-stars have rock and roll lifestyles. Can a mere fan, someone who enjoys the culture, style and attitude of everything that is rock music, claim such a thing? 

Today felt like a rock and roll lifestyle day, as I was out at a show last night, staying up late, getting drunk on the enveloping sound and feel of live music, the joy of being with 3,000 other rock fans, and beer. Last night’s lifestyle also included getting searched before entry to something I’d paid lotsa money to attend, letting a stranger shine a light into my purse, and hoping the person nearby who was staggering down the stairs wasn’t going to fall and hurt themselves.

The after-concert glow remains. Savouring the band. Replaying the songs they played. Looking up background to get to know the band and starting act better. Confirming you heard unusual timed rifts, which are indeed the signature traits of their sound. Thinking about how cool the light show was, bleaching out your visuals in time with the sound saturating your hearing and the rhythm resonating in your belly. Remembering the guy you dated whose thing was to do light shows for gigs. 

Even as life intervened, the silly smile of having enjoyed the moment flavoured all the usual goofiness of everydayness. 

That morning, I found a beer in the freezer, undoubtedly put there with the desire to have one more well chilled one after the show. By that time, beer had solidified all over the frozen peas and pork chops. I transferred the bottle to the fridge, expecting a slow thaw back to liquid. Several hours later, there was beer all over the lower shelf of the fridge and in the vegetable crispers below. Big mess. Oh. Well. The fridge needed cleaning anyway, so I pulled it all out, hosed it all down, air dried and reassembled. The vibe: ‘rolling with it’.

Maybe mundane, but the life in lifestyle is 7 x 24. A groupie can always aspire to a rock and roll lifestyle. Because it makes for an awesome way to ride the humps and bumps of mundania. Living on a tour bus certainly has its share of mundania (songs have been written about it, like Sloan – Money City Maniacs). Even being a mega star requires a different approach to everyday day, just to go out and do regular stuff in public. 

It’s sneering, in a playful way, at whatever comes your way. 

For a while, I lived beside a concert venue. It was a wonderful venue – big enough to draw great bands with a stadium feel, but small enough that all seats had a decent view of the stage. No jumbo screen, because every seat has a direct view of the musicians. Theory (of a Dead Man), Motley Crue, Seether, Three Days Grace (many times) are just a few of the awesome shows I’ve seen there. 

Taking advantage of the situation, I’d hang around the tour buses after the concert, just in case some famous rockers came out. A few did. It was a good glimpse of the real rock and roll lifestyle, watching the buses appear in the morning, remain motionless most of the day and then disappear into the night, shortly after the show was done. They’d travel as long as it took to get to the next venue, getting as much sleep as possible on the road, or after parking for the day. Slipping out to do some promotion, eating takeout delivered to the bus, doing sound check after the stage had been setup. Another night, a different town, asking where are we? what’s it called? what’s it like?

That’s their lifestyle, we on the receiving end of great performances mix our love of music to into an everyday life full of shit, giggles, love and hate. There’s a song to listen to for each one. Here’s some of my top picks:

  • Giggles: ‘Come down’ (Bush), ‘Tonight’ (Seether), ‘Feeling way too damn good’ (Nickelback).
  • Love: ‘Into the Night’ (Chad Kroeger and Santana), ‘If you only knew’ (Shinedown), ‘Hot’ (Avril Lavigne),’Amongst the waves’ (Pearl Jam).
  • Shit: ‘Hardwired’ (Metallica) , ‘Santa Monica’ (Theory), ‘Remedy’ (Seether).
  • Hate: – ‘I hate everything about you’ (Three Days Grace), ‘End of me’ (Billy Talent).

Fortunately, a whole lot of songs have many emotions, all at once. Because life has.

A few rock and roll lifestyle staples for ‘normal life’:

  • stay up late, sleep until noon (due to attending shows at night)
  • wear black,] and band merch (black is kinda the uniform, merch supports bands and announces affiliations)
  • motorcycles, tattoos, piercings (part of the edgy culture)
  • quote lyrics to fit the situation, any situation, because music is about the telling of life’s truths
  • live on the edge – to me this means jamming as much fun into your life as you can get away with without screwing up your job, retirement, or personal relationships, much.

Embracing some recklessness is good. As I get older, I appreciate the reason that I’ve been able to get older is a bit of control over the seriously dangerous activities a person might include in the lifestyle. Drinking and then conducting a few tonnes of metal down a roadway filled with other tonnes of metal has the potential for a lot of unpleasant consequences. So, pass. On the other hand, drinking with the new friends you met tonight and cavorting around town with these almost strangers might be a lot of fun, when on foot, or someone sober is driving the tons of metal. 

While not entirely reckless, also just doing the things you want, even if most people wouldn’t, strikes me as rock and roll. Wearing yellow rubber boots and a little black dress in the sunshine. Waiting to get out of the car until you’re done head-banging to your favourite Rob Zombie song. Not trusting apps, or authority, but generally having faith in humans to do the right thing. 

Why even bother categorizing your lifestyle? In marketing speak, lifestyles are aspirational1. I aspire to have a rock and roll lifestyle because it represents something I admire – music with truth, power and the right kind of reckless abandon. And, fuck, I gotta get the beer out of the freezer.

1 Ironically, I first learned the word in a medical context, where it means inhaling fluids (not compatible with life). ‘Chocked on vomit’ is a demise that has unfortunately occurred to some famous musicians, otherwise known as the consequences of over indulgence. The marketing aspiration comes from the act of aspiring to be something. The medical term has a latin root. 

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