I hate leaving my home, hate interacting with people out in the world, hate the whole hullabaloo. It’s SO much easier chilling on my couch, wearing comfy clothes, feeling at absolute ease. But you can’t be a functioning adult that way, and sometimes you can’t avoid society. This is Adam Leaves His Apartment!
My life can realistically be split into two equal-ish sections, each separated and defined by a particular, legendary rock band: blink-182 and The Who. The first half, which roiled from pre-raging hormones, into puberty, and through my collegiate days, was soundtracked by blink. The punk trio– that doesn’t exist anymore, because without Tom Delonge and Mark Hoppus, there is no real band– came tailor-made for the deeply painful growing pains of adolescence. The band seemed to have a direct pipeline into my developing amygdala, and the criminally underrated insightfulness of their lyrics and subject matter (which was muddled by their many juvenile antics) has stayed incandescent as I’ve aged.
But for as much as I continue to adore blink-182, the past decade-plus of my life, as I’ve slid harrowingly into adulthood and a world that I’m barely capable of surviving in, has been filled with the incalculable genius of Pete Townshend. There is no artist, in any medium, who can match the precision of his musical acuity or his depth of examination into the human condition. I’ve noted before the accuracy of the Almost Famous line about no one being able to explain rock and roll, except Pete Townshend, and since I’ve become entranced by the entirety of The Who, that truth has only clarified.
It’s almost unconscionable to consider how little of The Who’s catalogue I was familiar with before 2008, and it’s a marked embarrassment that the incendiary brilliance of the band– who created Tommy, Who’s Next, The Who by Numbers, and, of course, motherfucking QUADROPHENIA, to name a very few– was largely lost on me for so many years. I knew their hits, of which there are a ton, but had never been engulfed in the transcendent experience of their full albums, until viewing all of Freaks and Geeks just after college. I’d be remiss if I denied the debt of gratitude I owe Paul Feig and Judd Apatow, for filling that series with nearly a dozen of their tracks, and bringing eyesight to this blind man.
I can barely begin to describe the impact The Who’s music has had on me since my world was first enlightened by their full existence. I’ve written a screenplay where the two main characters are, essentially, modernized versions of Tommy, and Jimmy (from Quadrophenia). I own every album, and every track, they’ve ever recorded, and routinely listen to their albums while I write, or work out, or feel a burning desire to luxuriate in self-loathing. Hell, this entire website is named after an obscure lyric from a deep cut off of The Who by Numbers!
And, last Friday, at Fenway Park, I saw the band perform live, for essentially* the third time in the past eight years. Backed by a full orchestra, the two surviving members of the original foursome– in Townshend and Roger Daltrey– absolutely kicked ass, running through a slew of hits, including a suite of songs from each of their groundbreaking rock operas.
*I say essentially because, in 2011, I saw Roger Daltrey perform without Pete Townshend (who was considering retiring from touring at that time), but with Pete’s brother, Simon, and the rest of the current Who outfit. He played Tommy in its entirety and a dozen other Who songs, so I include that in my count. Sue me…
Frankly, considering that each man is in their mid-70s, it’s astounding how great they sounded, and how exuberant they appeared on stage. It was absolutely exhilarating to see the joy emanating from the geriatric musicians, with Daltrey twirling the mic around in the air like his heyday, and Townshend windmill shredding and leaping around in exclamation. Somehow, they sounded better than any time I’ve seen them perform, and the way Daltrey was able to still nail those growling, shouting notes he’s famous for– after all the years of abuse to his vocal cords– is astounding. It goes without saying that these are two of the greatest rock musicians in the history of music, but the way they continue to stay so improbably sharp (and limber) is inspiring.
Maybe it was the full orchestra backing them for so much of the show that elevated the evening. Hearing the “Overture” from Tommy or “5:15” from Quadrophenia as they were intended, with the orchestral arrangements that backed the tracks on record, was otherworldly. Maybe it was the setting in Fenway Park, and the breathtaking view of the Boston city skyline from our seats. It’s– to put things as eloquently as I possibly can– just cool seeing a concert at Fenway, and it’s sort of magical seeing the 107-year old ballpark transformed into a musical venue.
Or maybe it was the company, and the people I attended the show with, that’s provided a lasting charm for the evening. I went with my girlfriend, and a pair of great family friends– who are, basically, just family and not ‘friends of’ (hi, Mark and Janet!)– all three of whom were thrilled to go to this concert with me. I spent a lovely Friday night, and had a wonderful time, with three people who genuinely care for me, and respect me, and enjoy me, as a person and a human being. Honestly, the whole endeavor was heartwarming, and the subtle chills, accompanying the goosebumps that slowly rise when I remember The Who at Fenway, on Friday the 13th, are as much about the three people I went with as it is about the band’s performance.
Sometimes, it’s nice to get out of my isolated shell and let myself believe that I’m not completely broken, or flawed, or disliked. It can be difficult to ascertain just when I’m struggling with my depression and mental illness, or when I’m simply struggling to exist as a human being because, as some are aware, it can be fucking excrutiating just living and surviving in this world. So to have anything be unambiguous, and untainted by the irrational rationality by brain can toss onto any subject, is almost soothing.
I left my apartment this past weekend for a social outing that was amazing on every level. Maybe I should try this more often?