There is a concert venue in Jones Beach, Long Island. It’s a beautiful venue that sits right on the beach. There isn’t another building for miles around. On a perfect summer night it is one of the best places you could imagine seeing a concert. And up until this past weekend, it had been nearly 10 years since my last visit.
Four of us went to go see Florence and the Machine, a British band fronted by a seemingly goddess-like songstress whose voice and lyrics I have been unable to get enough of over the past several years.
On our way to the show we talked about tailgating, maybe picking up some beers to drink in the parking lot.
We also talked about picking up some cookies, or at least, I did.
Ultimately we decided that we would just get to the venue and grab some beers there.
This is a luxury I never had when going to concerts at Jones Beach in the past because I have never been to a concert there and been of legal drinking age.
We got to the beach just as the sun was starting it’s descent towards the horizon. It was magnificent and beautiful, and made only better by the mid-September weather stretching it’s legs for the first time.
We pulled into the parking lot and set about finding a spot closest to the exit. This was a major change from concert-going as a teen. The goal had always been to get a spot closest to the venue so you didn’t have far to walk afterward.
However, age and experience teaches you that in post-concert parking lots, walking gets you where you need to go a lot faster than driving does and having a spot near the exit can literally save you hours.
We parked the car and hung out in the car for a little bit before strolling over to the concession stand in the parking lot to see what was going on. Judging by the line we assumed there would be booze for sale.
To our grim disappointment, and after 15 clueless minutes waiting on the line, we noticed the sign that said no alcohol for sale on concert days.
It was kind of comical at first; here we were 4 of age adults looking to legally procure alcohol and we had A. Forgotten to bring some and B. Not realized there wouldn’t be any for sale in the parking lot concession stand.
But that’s part of the glory of getting older, realizing that if you by tickets for an event, the event becomes the focus and not the spectacle surrounding it.
So we stood on the beach watching the sun go down before the gates to the venue opened up. We watched couples walking hand in hand, friends chatting, and tweens taking pictures of themselves.
I started to notice the age difference at that point.
There was a point in my early 20s when I was working for a music magazine when I was going to a lot of concerts, or more than I had ever attended. I would go with friends my age. I’m sure we’d notice the people younger than us and comment on it but those comments were based more in an effort to prove to ourselves our aging wisdom than out of truly significant differences.
Were we ever like that? No way. Oh my god they look so young!
But as we walked around before the concert I found it hard to believe how far away I was from the kids around us; taking pictures of themselves they were most assuredly probably uploading to Facebook and commenting on and liking in mass effect. Things that didn’t even exist when we were that age.
It was around this time that I was tagged in several photos on Facebook by the people I was with.
We made our way into the venue with the goal of finding beer because even though that hadn’t been the primary focus of the evening, the fact that we weren’t able to passively locate it had suddenly elevated it to priority number one.
It wasn’t until we had done an almost full lap of all the food and beverage venders that one of our group remarked:
Wow, I wonder if this is a dry venue.
That knowledge nugget fell on us like an anvil.
Did those things even exist anymore? The last venue I had attended that purposely didn’t sell alcohol was my college’s football stadium. That made sense.
This however, made no sense to me.
We kind of laughed about it for a minute before making an alternate beverage purchase.
I got a hot chocolate.
We found our seats, better ones than I had ever had at the venue, and we chatted, and soaked up the ocean air while I sipped my hot chocolate.
And as I sat there thinking in between conversations I felt wonderful. Reflecting on times spent at Jones Beach years ago and that moment right there was such a welcome time.
Concerts are a rite of passage for us. We remember our first concert, the first one we went to by ourselves, who we were with, how we got there. They are definitive markers in our memories. I have a better sense of the person I was at those concerts than at a lot of other events in my life.
The concert was incredible and ended marvelously. We left and found our car and were out of the parking lot in less time than it took to walk to the car.
And as we drove home I thought how different yet similar my night had been to those nights I spent at that same venue nearly a decade ago, and how I wouldn’t have changed a thing.