Last night, I had the chance to be cool. This is very unusual for me since I have lived a life of ultimate un-coolness. My best friend emailed me a few weeks ago and said she could get tickets to the Lauryn Hill show. Was I in? Let me think. I like Lauryn Hill’s music and her lyrics AND she’s cute. I get to dress up, get my dance on, and maybe flirt with a cute young thang. Was I in? Oh, hell yeah. So, last night, I took more time than usual getting ready. Normally, I can be out the door in ten minutes. Last night, though, it took me a good half hour to decide what to wear. I wanted to wear my cute little black dress that made me look gooooood (ladies, you know what I mean), but it was supposed to hit sub-zero temps last night. And, while I love the cold, even I am not that crazy. At least not in the temperature sense. So, instead, I threw on a pair of black velvet pants, a black tank, a black wrap over the tank, and declared my wardrobe complete.
And yet, accessories! Every woman knows that the secret to a glam look is how one accentuates one’s positives. The problem is, most of my earrings are missing one of the pair or are broken. I like to wear big, bold earrings (partly because I have such long hair), so I was flummoxed. I had one pair of big black hoops made of African rubber, but that meant putting my hair up. I pulled the front part of my hair up into a high ponytail, and, because I’m OCD, spent fifteen minutes making sure it sat just right. I added a few rings (silver, I hate gold), a bracelet, and some lipstick. Cyber, by MAC, a colored girl’s best friend (in makeup). I have to admit, I clean up nicely. I threw on my stylish-yet-practical black boots, and I was good to go.
The doors to First Ave were supposed to open at eight, but that got pushed back to nine. I made it to my best friend’s place at eight-fifteen. We were standing in line to get into the club by a quarter to nine. We were in the door and coats checked by nine, and we were ready to groove. We hit the bar. I had forgotten to heed Angry Black Lady’s advice and take some Pepcid AC before going out–I’m allergic to alcohol like many Asians, and she says her Asian girlfriends SWEAR by it–so I knew I wouldn’t be able to drink much. Normally, I’m a bourbon and diet coke, gin and tonic, rum and diet coke kinda gal (I am the least allergic to hard liquor), but I was in the mood for something different. I decided I wanted to try the Twisted Ice Tea. It came in a 24 oz. can, and I felt a bit ridiculous holding it, but it was really really tasty. Deceptively so. I was drinking along thinking, “Mmmmm, yummy. There can’t be any alcohol in this–oh, damn. Yes there is!” It went down smooth and hit me hard. I think I might have drank a third of it.
We staked out our territory by the railing just off the stage. We made a blood pact that we would not be jostled out of our position. If we needed to pee? We went alone. Buying drinks? I went by myself (my best friend has a near-pathological aversion to going to the bar to get her drinks, but I don’t mind). If we wanted to slip out to smoke a cigarette?* Tough luck, sister. It wasn’t happening. On the way over, my best friend had told me that she heard that Lauryn was a difficult performer who always showed up late. But, she had apparently changed (or so my best friend thought). Normally, I would have Googled that kind of info before going to a concert, but I had been derelict in my duty, and, oh, would we pay for it.
9:30 came and went. Nothing. The First Ave DJ was spinning some old-school hip hop and rap like Snoop and Biggie and such and keeping the crowd up. He was really damn good. I was bopping along and kinda getting into the mood. My Twisted Ice Tea was hitting the spot, and there was some fine eye candy in the club. MN women know how to dress, but guys? Would it kill you to ditch the sports jersey and/or baseball cap for the night? Or to shave? Or wear something a bit dressy? kthxbai.
10:00 p.m. came and went. I was starting to get antsy. I’m Taiwanese American, and I was scarred as a kid by attending events that never started on time. I overcompensated for a long time by being early to everything, way early. I’ve mostly cured myself of the need to be a half-hour early, but I still like things to start within a half-hour of the scheduled start time. In addition, there was no opening act. We have a lot of quality rappers in Minneapolis, so there was no excuse for not picking a local talent to do a half-hour set. My best bud went to the bathroom, predicting Lauryn would be on stage when she returned. Lauryn was not. I went a bit later–still, no Lauryn. However, there was so much marijuana smoke in the bathroom, I got a slight contact high–which was not something I wanted.
10:30 p.m. came and went. The woman to my left was furious. She had a scowl on her face, and she was starting to mutter darkly under her breath. I was pretty pissed myself. I am not the most patient of people in the best of times, and putting me in a hot, crowded room and making me wait wait wait is definitely not the best of times. The mood was still upbeat, but people were definitely getting restless. There was a pregnant lady (that became her moniker for the rest of the night) who looked to be about seven months pregnant according to my best friend who has a kid and presumably knew what she was talking about. Pregnant lady really started to wilt around the hour-and-a-half mark, and we were starting to worry about her. We thought she should find a seat, but there were none to be had. My best friend said, “I bet she got herself up for this and is determined to stick it through. She’s had to give up so much–she’s not giving this up, too.” I added, “She probably said, “This is the one thing I’m going to do for fun in my last few months of pregnancy.” She probably saved up for it.” We were worried she would have her baby right then and there. I said, “This is why it sucks being a liberal. I’m worried about random pregnant lady at a nightclub.”
11:00 p.m. came and went. My best friend turned to me and said, “This is like the bad relationship in which he shows up two hours late and you take it.” I heard the women behind me saying, “I guess she hasn’t changed after all.” The crowd was starting to grumble, though the DJ was doing his best to keep the vibe going. We in MN don’t really throw bottles at the stage or anything like that. Still, we were getting restive. My best friend posted this as her FB status around 11:10 p.m.:
“ Ooo la la lah, I paid a helluva lotta moolah, but the vibe is still good! Gotta love 1st Ave. DJ’s (sic)!
She was getting pissed, too, though. She bends over backwards to give someone the benefit of the doubt until that person crosses a line. Two hours of waiting with no explanation was the line crossed. Honestly, if the tickets weren’t so damn expensive, we would have walked. I was already writing this blog post in my head, ready to rip into Lauryn for being such a damn diva.
11:30 p.m. My best friend had gone to pee again a few minutes before, and I went at 11:30. I had a feeling that if I went to the bathroom, Lauryn would come out on stage. I liken it to my horrible parking karma–the minute I pass by a car, it pulls out, and the person behind me gets the spot. Sure enough, as I stepped into the bathroom, a huge roar went up in the crowd. She must be on stage! On my way back to the railing, a woman blocked my way saying, “You can’t get to the stage from there. There’s a bar in the way.” I glared at her and said, “I know. That’s my friend right there” and pointed at my best friend. I wanted to say, “Bitch, please. I did not stake out my territory and stand there for two-and-a-half hours only to lose my spot”, but I realized she wasn’t trying to be a bitch–not really.
Back in my spot, I noticed that it was only Lauryn’s DJ who had come on stage–and he wasn’t as good as the First Ave DJ. Lauryn’s DJ kept shouting out to Minnesota and Minneapolis, a theme that was continued through the night. A few minutes later, the band members wandered onto the stage and, what the fuck? They’re checking their instruments and doing mike checks now? Really? They couldn’t do that in the previous two-and-a-half hours? Apparently not. And, my best friend was flummoxed by the Plexiglass surrounding the drummer. WTF?
I’m seething by this time. It’s unprofessional and rude to boot. My best friend had a good point. She said, “They should have just said, doors open at 9:00 p.m.; there’s a dance party for two hours; then it’s time for Lauryn.” How fucking hard would that have been? Apparently, too goddamn hard. I was furious. I don’t go to live shows very often, and I was really mad that she would think so little of her fans that she would do them like that (and me, but I’m not a true fan).
11:50 p.m. Lauryn stepped foot on stage. Place went wild. All, apparently, was forgiven. Lauryn started out high energy and gave an amazing show. There was something definitely off about her, though. I don’t know if she was high or not all there or what, but her behavior was making me nervous. As I have told my friends, I’m the crazy one. I don’t do well around people who are crazier or more of a drama queen than I am. I was able to let go of my mad and my jitters after a half hour, though, telling myself I was going to enjoy the concert (and then resume my mad later) because why ruin the whole evening? By the way, I wouldn’t have been able to do that five years ago. I would have been like the woman next to me–nursing the anger and letting it get to me. She left a half-hour into the concert.
Gah. This is getting long. I’ll end Part I here.
*I smoke when I drink, which is approximately once every other month.
ETA: A friendly Lauryn Hill PSA. If you have tickets, go two hours after the doors open. You won’t miss a thing.