I planned to get a crew together to relive our middle school musical years by going down to the usual spot to check out the Stone Temple Pilots, but it ended up just being me & Vanessa for the musical tailgating adventures. A terrible local band played before Cage the Elephant, and we watched various characters debate the best way to hop the fence, while a lot of people who looked like they were in their 30s filed in below us.
One guy gets in by wearing scrubs and saying he's part of the EMS crew but he got kicked out, and then a ghostly pale older metalhead guy in a black cutoff t-shirt started talking to us about "killer songs," Salvador Dali, Alice Cooper, "The Man,"("the cops are always hassling the hippies and the artists, the poets and the freaks. tryin' to keep us down maaan..." and so on.
People are serious about this tailgating thing. There were lawn chairs, minivans with the backs opened up, coolers of beer. The cops would drive by or perch on top the hill above with binoculars and while this wouldn't have bothered me before, the sight of the blue and white cars makes me jumpy but they didn't bother anyone.
Evidently there were hundreds of people down here for 311 ("They come through every year") and there was a great crew for Slayer earlier this summer and some of the guys are regulars and come down here for everything but were especially saddened that it rained during REO Speedwagon the night before. I'm thinking about coming down again for "Fake Sublime" in two weeks just for the people-watching awesomeness that could ensue.
I forgot how many of those songs were in constant rotation on the radio when I was in high school even though by then they were getting close to a decade old. They were one of those bands that really wasn't held in the same regard as others, but seemed to have some kind of universal appeal in the burbs. One of the girls in my English class in 7th grade explicated on "Lady Picture Show" and another friend of mine used to bellow "STONE TEMPLE ROCKS" at inopportune moments, and my dad was a big fan of "Interstate Love Song."
The light show alternated between being interesting and having that look of those Windows Media Player visualizations with names like "Vortex" or something someone's kid did in Photoshop and often made no sense whatsoever. Scott Weiland's weird white boy dancing and stage banter was absurd as only a recovering 90s junkie can be ("and, uh, this song, is like, off of Purple. I think you know it... Uh, yeah, we actually practiced our songs again before, uh, going out on the road... yeah Cleveland, like those were the best years of my life.." and they played all the hits and a few I didn't expect (though I would've loved a few more off "Tiny Music"), like their cover of "Dancing Days" that I've always loved.
And I enjoyed the crowd of bros and their lady friends watching the show with us, and the odd ones that showed up too, like the quiet guy in khakis and sperry topsiders who showed up by himself and knew all the words to "Dead and Bloated," and the couple slow dancing on the bed of a red pickup truck to "Plush."
It felt like such a Cleveland night, with the strange mix of characters hanging out in a barbed wire parking lot in the industrial part of town looking down across the valley to the stage singing all the songs and clapping and saying "no way in hell I'm paying $60 for that show" while singing lyrics that don't make a whole lot of sense in a totally unironic way.