Run Run Run

(the following 3 posts were written for a writing class that i took in the fall of 2006. i was just re-reading them, and these three just sort of stuck with me. this one is about a Placebo concert that i went to with Sydney last year. the opening act I refer to is She Wants Revenge.)

“The lights, they glow sideways and up and down
The beat takes you over and spins you round
Our hearts steady-beating, the sweat turns to cold
We’re slaves to the DJ and out of control”

It’s cold outside, as we wait in line. Our eyes are wide, trying to take it all in. People dress like stereotypes, parodies of their normal selves. Dark eyeliner is a must, and red lipstick. Their hair looks like they went at it with garden shears after a night of drinking: chopping wildly, randomly. Close to Halloween, they dress in costume. I can see the mad hatter, a vixen nurse, and several corsets. Anything goes. Everyone is waiting anxiously, rocking back and forth and looking towards the door that should have opened five minutes ago. Some of these kids, the ones at the front, have been here for hours, waiting, in the cold, in their tiny tank tops and fishnets.

You can tell a lot about the band by who shows up. This crowd is different than usual; I knew it would be. This band plays to the outcasts. We’re all a little odd, a little kinky. I see some leather pants; I wouldn’t be surprised if someone had a whip.

The doors open. Security knows what they are looking for, nothing I would be hiding in the pockets of my black blazer. My drivers license is checked, ticket torn, and I’m in. Suddenly I can move freely, as freely as possible being surrounded by people. You learn to maneuver, how to slide your body through groups of people without disturbing them.

The first thing to do is reevaluate the crowd. Who is in the balcony? Who are we going to need to squeeze past to get to the front? Probably don’t want to try to squeeze past that big guy; he could take me out pretty easily. Those two girls shouldn’t be too much of a problem though, and even if we can’t get in front of them, it won’t be too hard to see over the tops of their heads. No, wait, if we go over there, that really tall kid in the denim jacket will block our view completely and he looks like he knows what he’s doing here so he won’t be easily pushed aside. Oh well, the opening band hasn’t even started yet, we have time to work ourselves around them.

The DJ starts playing. He’s alright, he knows the crowd he’s playing for and suits his music to our collective taste. No one’s really dancing much, just sort of standing, having as good a conversation as can be expected in a loud environment like this. We’re still people watching: The emo boy to my left is far too good-looking for the girl he’s with, this girl in front of me doesn’t look like she fits into this crowd at all. She’s here alone. I wonder why she came.

We are approached by a man with a shaved head and a beer. He appears harmless, a little drunk, very social. We talk about the strangest things: the DJ’s suit—it’s red, but not quite the right shade, and did anyone win the World Series yet, do you know? He asks which band we came to see, the opening act or the headliner? He nods approvingly at our answers.

The opening band comes onstage to do a quick sound check before beginning. The lead singer would look like a joke it if weren’t so obviously intentional. Maybe that’s the joke. He has exaggerated the fact that he is balding by pushing his sloping afro as far up on his forehead as possible. It looks straight out of the ‘80’s or early ‘90’s, a Paula Abdul music video maybe. His body is long and sinewy, exaggerated by his ultra-thin stained t-shirt. He is graceful and captivating. His body moves with the music, his face remains completely blank. I am too busy watching him sway—trace lines in the air with his long thin fingers—to notice any of the other musicians—keyboard, bass, drums. His voice is deep and flat, entrancing. My friend leans over and puts her mouth to my ear. She shouts,


I shake my head and shrug. I think I would remember this guy if I had seen him before.

She’s positive she’s seen them somewhere else, and for the rest of the night, it bothers her that she can’t think of where. We run over the mental list of concerts we’ve been to together. It’s a long list; we’ve been doing this for years… Nope, nothing. It must have been one she saw without me.

The set feels long, probably because one song sounds like all the rest when you don’t really know any of them. By the end, they’re starting to sound familiar to me too, but I think it’s just because the sound is predictable. Oh well, at least it’s good.

This girl who we are standing behind is driving me insane. She’s got about two feet of space in front of her, which for a sold-out standing room only concert should be a crime punishable by death. I try to bump into her, accidentally catch her hair, and brush her with my elbow to get her to move forward, but she doesn’t budge. If anything, she moves backward. Every time she sways to the music, the hood of the sweatshirt she has tied around her waist brushes my thigh. It bothers me, but I can’t scoot back, I am sandwiched. The thigh brushing becomes distracting. I really want to shove her hard in the back or yank hard on her hair, but I won’t. Every time I brush her, she gets annoyed and looks back at me, but doesn’t move.

“Thanks for coming tonight, to support us and our good friends from across the Atlantic, PLACEBO!” (The crowd goes wild.) “We have just one more song.” He starts singing again, alone, without the band.

“Run run run would you wear that black liner baby,

Run run run, run run run…”

His low deep monotone seems to cut through the air. Everyone is silent. His emphasis, timing, rhythm are perfect. We are all captured, slightly terrified of this loud voice that hits us straight and hard in the chest. The drum comes in on top of the vocals. The beat resonates through us. We don’t hear it as much as feel it. It becomes our heartbeat, the only pulse we can feel moving through us. We are a single entity, beating as one, led by this God onstage who has complete control of our bodies right now…

The song is over. We gasp, our heartbeats become our own again. The stereo system starts playing some modern rock music while technicians move equipment on and off of the stage. They unplug amps, coil mic cords, tune guitars. I could get a job like this, there isn’t much that they’re doing that I don’t know how to do, and I bet they get to meet all the bands and hang out with them backstage.

We have managed to squeeze our way to close to the front. We are so good at it, it’s almost scary. We did it without making anyone really angry also, which is the real accomplishment. We are so close that we will probably be breathing the same air as Brian Molko, our hero, the lead singer of Placebo.

It feels like we’ve been waiting forever. It’s one thing to stand cramped in with strangers when there’s a band playing but when it’s just waiting, it’s nearly unbearable. I can’t even talk to my friend anymore, since she’s in front of me and it’s so packed that she wouldn’t be able to turn around without getting squeezed back.

Finally, Placebo takes the stage. Of course everyone is going wild, reaching towards them, screaming. One girl near me faints at my feet, hardly anyone notices. I help her boyfriend pick her up and try not to go down myself. They leave and their space is instantly filled by more screaming fans. People are pressing into my back, I am pressed into my friend’s back. I can’t move my legs, there’s nowhere for them to go that isn’t already occupied by someone else. My arms are protectively covering my chest, they aren’t going anywhere either. I can feel the heat radiating from every body. Someone could suffocate in here.

Brian Molko is different than I’d imagine him. He’s much shorter. He also shaved his head since the latest photo of him I saw. Nonetheless, he’s drop dead gorgeous. He’s got style, sex appeal. I’m obviously not as big a fan as the rest of the crowd; I don’t even know the names of the bass player or the drummer. They’re hot too.

Most of the songs that they play are off their new album, the one I don’t know as well since I only bought it a few days ago. I’ve been listening to it non-stop since then, but I still only know the words to certain choruses. Everyone around me knows every word. The girl to my left is getting really into it, singing her heart out, wanting to somehow become one with her idol by singing the same words as he is at the same time.

“Carve your name into my arm,
Instead of stressed, I lie here charmed…”

Her arms are outstretched, reaching toward him. No one else exists to her now, it’s obvious just by watching her. I envy her a little. Even if I knew all the words, I don’t think I could get as into it as she is. Near the end of the concert, I glance over at her. There are tears streaming down her face, her perfect black eyeliner stripes down her cheek, ending around her chin. I’m glad I saw it.

They don’t play my favorite song, the one I wanted to scream along to. There’s always that one pseudo-obscure song that I really want to hear that most people probably skip when they play the CD. Oh well. It’s hard to be disappointed after that. Man, what an amazing show, what an amazing crowd.

As I’m heading out, I stop at the table to buy concert memorabilia. While we are waiting in line, we start a conversation with the keyboardist from the first band, the one I barely noticed. He’s cute and modest and even a bit shy. We talk briefly, then he leaves. Every time he passes us, he nods at us and smiles. I love him.

Outside, the night is cold and quiet. Walking fast feels strange, walking at all feels strange, because we’ve been constricted for so long. My ears are ringing. I am high on adrenaline. Whenever I am out this late, I can’t help but feel sexy, I don’t know why. I walk with confidence through the parking lot to my car.

We drive home in silence. We are at the same time both exhausted and incredibly awake. Tomorrow we’ll go out and buy that CD, the opening act. I’ll glue the ticket stub into my scrapbook, she’ll burn me a disc with the photos from tonight on it. I’ll print a few of them, maybe, and stick them in the scrapbook with the ticket stub. Maybe I’ll even write a few lyrics to go with them. Then, sometime, next week, next month, I’ll turn on the radio and hear

“Run run run, run run run.”


~ by kiranapoleon on September 29, 2007.

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