Gavin Rossdale expertly maneuvered his way through a sea of sweating bodies. People were seething around him and hoping for a chance that their fingertips might brush his shirt. Some grabbed desperately and were shoved by the sullen, heavy Samoan security guards who followed in his wake. He was chanting, “There’s no sex in your violence” while wild-eyed girls grasped their faces with both hands, shrieking excitedly at their girlfriends. People were jumping up and down in time with the guitar and drums.
I was eight years old again. The crowd shoved wildly on all sides. Mom struggled to protect me. She had one arm wrapped around my mid-section and the other arm she used like a shield to protect me from the drunken adults who were bouncing around on all sides of us, completely out of control. Gavin Rossdale was singing “Everything Zen.” I asked my mom what “no sex in your violence” means. She couldn’t hear me.
My two best friends jumped up and down beside me with makeup smearing and sweat collecting at the tips of our hair. Some random guy returned with three beers in plastic cups and we “cheers’ed,” spilling beer over the rims. We licked up the beer before too much could spill. One of my friends leaned in and licked foam from my lips. Jumping up and down we gulped beer, sloshing it all over our shirts. The fabric clung to my nipples. The random dude who brought us beer was grinning at Allison and staring at her chest. I shook my head and tried to get lost in the music.
“Mom,” I said again. “What does ‘no sex in your violence’ mean?” My ears were ringing. I was thrilled. I think her ears were ringing too. She told me she didn’t know what it means. She was tired. Dad was out of town but trusted her to take me to my first concert even though it was a school night.
I was starting to yawn. I had work in the morning. That perv was trying to make out with Allison and she wasn’t having it. I shoved two grown men out of my way and tried to act like I just wanted to dance with my friend. With one arm around her waist and the other arm as a shield, I tried to keep that creep’s lips off of her. She looked thankful. People were bouncing around on all sides of us and we continued spilling beer. My Vans were completely soaked.
“I don’t believe that Elvis is dead,” Gavin chanted. Allison, Christina and I were screaming along with him. Guys kept trying to paw us. The lights were getting hot. I was tired of smacking hands away. Gavin was slowing things down but he was still in the crowd. “I don’t think so,” he sang. The security guards were still trailing him. I wished that my friends and I had security guards. “I don’t think so,” he said again as he began to climb back on stage. Christina spilled beer on her suede shoes and said, “fuck,” slowly drawing out the ‘u.’ The lights were getting hotter. The band was going nuts yet beginning to slow down. “I don’t think so,” sang Gavin, allowing ample, dramatic time between each word. The guitarist finished with a wild solo and the lights were killed.
“What does that mean?” Christina asked after the show. Allison and I turned to look at her.
“I’ll tell you what it means,” said Allison, with much sass in her voice. I knew she was talking about that idiot inside.
“I think the song is about western culture,” I said, trying to sound intelligent. “It’s about that and drugs and David Bowie.” But I had had too much beer.
Mom was tucking me in and telling me to get some sleep. She didn’t want my teacher to be upset with me for falling asleep in class. Mom kissed my forehead and said goodnight.