The night started out innocently enough. I got a text from a neighbor of mine asking me if I’d be interested in a seeing an outdoor concert near our apartment building. Hayes Carll and Carson McHone were set to perform, and although I had never heard of either I decided I’d go. The aforementioned concert is a monthly show that the city of Austin is generous enough to put on at a park with a huge lawn and plenty of room for the masses. I figured I’d haul four or five beers with me to this show and I’d be home at a reasonable hour.
In theory, it sounds like a blast, much going to a club or taking a hike should be fun. But it’s not, because, you know, you’re outside exposed to unpredictable elements with thousands of assholes. I can’t wear a tattered t-shirt perfect for bedtime and sweatpants to an outdoor concert. I have to be on. I have to be “sociable” and “nice.” As a person who genuinely enjoys a night where I see or talk to absolutely no one, attending this event was a colossal mistake.
I’ve been to plenty of outdoor concerts. I’ve seen Dave Matthews three times at the same venue in Michigan and every show has been fantastic. I watched Dispatch shred at Millennium Park a few years back in Chicago. I’ve even attended a jazz festival in my hometown with every act opting to perform outside. I’m no stranger to listening to music outdoors, and I enjoy it. But this night was different in that it wasn’t music I typically listen to.
For me, country music can be played from May to August and that’s pretty much it. I’ve never been a fan, as I tend to think that most of the songs all deal with pretty much the same subject matter. Somebody gets broken up with or a dog or family member dies and then the singer croons about drinking whiskey at some dilapidated bar. It’s got a time and a place, but that window (for me) is open for a very short period of time.
I accepted the invite, as it was an idle Wednesday and my other option was to lock myself in my bedroom with a bag of Cheez-Its and watch anywhere from 2 to 6 episodes of Seinfeld. But I figured I’d give it a shot. By the way, isn’t that the worst? When you say you’re going to give something a shot and then your worst imaginable fear happens and you regret everything?
Let me start out with the obvious here. It is hot as fuck in Austin, Texas right now. You can’t walk outdoors for more than a few minutes without breaking a sweat, and for a person like myself who had issues with sweating before moving here, you can imagine how haggard I looked by the time I set all of my shit down in a small grassy area with just enough room for me to sit down but not stretch my legs out.
Try and picture the scene. A free, outdoor concert held in a park near the University of Texas and minutes from downtown. You can’t get more hip, more free-range, more non-GMO–more Austin if you tried. A hipsters paradise. On this night, Austin was Bushwick on steroids. A place where weed was being passed around with reckless abandon. Butt cheeks hanging out of jean shorts (which was one of the few things I actually enjoyed about the event) were a dime a dozen. Dogs and pollen polluted every square inch of the park. Pabst Blue Ribbon and mustachioed men everywhere. I endured all of this despite puffy eyes and a sneezing fit that I couldn’t temper.
The seating arrangement? Less than ideal. As I mentioned before, every square inch of grassy space was occupied, and even if you did bring a blanket (which I did), I was still wearing sandals without socks, which meant walking around barefoot all night. I’ll let you in on a little secret. I wear socks with sandals around the office because my feet sweat, and I’d rather the sock soak up sweat than the footbed of my 150 dollar Birkenstocks.
It sounds contradictory to my most recent declaration, but it makes sense to me and at the end of the day that’s all that really matters. When my feet start sweating in a pair of leather Birkenstocks, the sole of the sandal begins to stink worse than any pair of Sperry’s you’ve ever had. “Blues On The Green” was the perfect storm of hot, muggy, and overpopulated. My feet hadn’t been that sweaty since the time I decided it would be a good idea to wear tennis shoes out to a bar in Mexico three years ago. In short, my feet were dirty, sweaty, and appallingly pungeant by the time the show ended at 10:00 PM.
And that’s not even the worst part. Oh, no. By far the worst part of this entire experience was the fact that I had to make small talk. Like the smallest of small talk. It had been hinted upon my acceptance of an invitation that there would be several girls joining us, but when I got to my seat in the grass I was only met with less than firm handshakes from five or six dudes. Listen, these guys were all nice enough. Good people with good intentions. But with all due respect to them, I would have stayed home had I known that this would be the company I had to spend two and half hours with.
If I’m stepping out on a goddamn Wednesday night when eight hours of sleep is a necessity, it needs to be worth my time. And by worth my time I mean there better be some talent there. Could I have gotten up from the spot where my ass was going numb and talked to one of the thousands of hot girls that were there? Of course. But I got the vibe from “Blues On The Green” that this was a place where couples or large groups of friends went. Sort of like how it’s inappropriate to hit on girls at the gym, I felt this was equally as inappropriate a place to try and pick up a stranger. It may not be a correct assumption, but that’s the vibe I got and it’s too late to go back and do it over again.
The outdoors are great. For some people. I am not some people. Unless this event happens next month on a weekend, you will not catch me at “Blues On The Green.” I’ll take a box of Cheez-its in a clean bed over dirty feet, hipsters, and subpar country music every time. Good effort, good try, City of Austin. Despite your best intentions, the hate train continues to roll on. If anyone wants to hop on board you’re more than welcome. If not, enjoy your hippy-dippy outdoor concerts. I’ll be inside if you need me..