When I made my journey to Tucson this summer, I truly believed I would not see Streetlight Manifesto ever again. Well, at least not for a very long time and at definitely after I had grown out of my some what obsession for them. So when the opportunity to see them one more time presented itself, I of course leaped at the chance, but never really sat down to fathom the chance I was granted. The pre Streetlight hype just wasn’t there for me and I don’t think I really accepted the fact I was seeing them again until about half way through this 4th time seeing them when “A Better Place, A Better Time” was played.
Now, the trip to see them was not without its fair share of adventures and hectic nature. Patch was flying into Atlanta that afternoon and the plan was to meet him in down town Atlanta, making him wait for us for maybe an hour. Due to traffic, bad planning and leaving late he ended up waiting for more like four and my anxiety was extremely high the entire car ride into the city, and I can not imagine what he was feeling. I felt so bad that I had essentially abandoned him so my guilt was still heavy in my mouth by the time we got to the show.
The venue itself was awesome. It was called the Masquerade and had three sections that artists could perform: Heaven, Purgatory and Hell. It was a three-story building with venues on each level, allowing multiple shows to go on at once. I thought it was an awesome idea executed perfectly because the only way I could tell another show was going on below me was the vibrations of the floor from the bass. Overall the feel was similar to Sunshine with its dinginess and rickety structure. The stairs were wooden and reminded me of a ride at Disneyland but the place packed in people and I was truly excited to see so many people there for Streetlight after my other ska experience earlier in the week in Athens when hardly anyone showed up to see Less Than Jake.
Two different guys, with different sets playing acoustic guitar were the openers and both were OK at best and awful at worst. The first guy was a knock off Jack Johnson who had apparently flown all the way from San Diego that day to fill in for one of the original openers. Patch and me just caught up during his set and met some people who had seen Streetlight five and eight times each. We marveled at their dedication and prayed one day we would be allowed to show our love that expansively. The next guy, a knock off of Andrew Jackson Jihad was louder and less Jack Johnsonish but more annoying. So instead of building suspense I was just getting annoyed.
Streetlight took a good while to finally come out, but when they did it was all business and they jumped right into song with no talking what so ever. In fact, the entire show saw fairly little chatter from them as they focused on giving the people of Atlanta the supposed last show of their lives. The crowd felt much rowdier than normal but I didn’t mind as I bounced around the floor feeling like an old pro, hearing the songs not with as much excitement but simple delight because I had heard some of them four times now. It was now almost refreshing and tranquil to hear these ballads I had been hearing since my high school days and I sang along as loudly as I physically could.
I just could not drum up the same emotions as I did for the show in Tucson. I felt guilty at first, and then annoyed but when “The Three Of Us” came on, I just felt simple joy. This show was like the TOB to Zia (a marching band reference). That Tucson show was what we had built our Streetlight listening careers up for, and seeing them one more additional time was just the icing on the cake. I finally realized this and just took the show as it was, not trying to create any momentous occasion out of it. I heard all of the classic songs (one particular one missing) like “The Big Sleep,” “Here’s To Life,” “Down Dow Down To Mephisto’s Café,” and “A Better Place, A Better Time” and I made sure to sing the choruses louder than my throat would allow. I made sure to push myself to the limit, feeling like I was going to throw up more than once and feeling bruises and cuts appear and my throat itself swell with soreness. I saw it as my duty to give them my all and I left with no regrets.
I even got my roommates to enjoy themselves. They were amazed with how violent they could be without getting in any real sort of trouble and enjoyed pushing each other around the floor. One of my room mates had indulged a little too heavily before though and did not have quite as good a time as I think he would have, but he also said he just simply was not expecting the chaos that comes with a Streetlight show.
What I discovered after this show was that it was worth it to travel hundreds of miles and pay a lot of money, no matter where Streetlight was playing just to see them and really I would see this band any chance I got. I may not have made the special connection with this show as the Tucson one, but it still was amazing hearing this band I have put on such a pedestal play one more time for me. “The Big Sleep,” as in Tucson was the most special song and the part about Bob Dylan was again the time I found a fellow fan to scream the lyrics into each other’s faces. It just felt so right and I was beyond thankful my brother had been able to fly the hundreds of miles from home to be there with me.