Ah, the many weeks of anticipation over and done with–the day to see BORNS has arrived. I hop in my car at five pm and head to Denis’ work, where I’m picking him up so we can go together. Traffic is slow but not unbearable–I make it there by 5:22 and by 5:40 we have hit the road, sailing on I-90 at 70+ miles per hour in my moody Hyundai.
We make it to the venue in good time. Doors open at 7 and by the time we park it’s only about 6:40. I park on the street, the only available parking, in a spot that is seemingly safe from parking tickets. I’m not comfortable with street parking, but you gotta do what you gotta do.
The line is huge, filled with mostly under-the-age-of-25-year-olds, the girls dressed in tattered jean shorts and flowing kimonos. The group in front of us is a middle-aged mother and three underage girls, all with better clothes, hair, and phones than me. Denis and I exchange perturbed glances–we feel old.
The doors open on time and as we near the door, two bounces check our IDs and give us white wristbands with green smiley faces. We enter, and as I’m getting my bag checked, the bouncer unzips a pocket and finds my bottle of Klonopin. I forget that they’re my father’s, not mine, so when he asks to see my ID to confirm the name on the bottle matches the face he’s not looking at, he tells me I have to put them back in my car. I hurriedly tell Denis I have to go back, and to my surprise, he follows me. As we’re walking, I light a cigarette and he lights the oversized joint he rolled. One hit will get him high for hours. We reach the car and I put the meds in the glove box, glancing over at the group of young men sitting on the curb.
When we return back to the line, one of the bouncers tells us we can’t re-enter yet and it’s “all one line.” We sort of stop and stare at one another, not wanting to wait in line over again. Thankfully, a sinewy bouncer in a baseball hat says he’ll let us in. He opens the other glass door for us and escorts us both in and we re-enter without an issue.
The venue is intimately small, and the ambiance is nice–the ceiling is strung with red and blue lights. The bar is huge. I order a single Corona, which I pay five dollars for (seven if you include my tip) when I should just be ordering water. Denis gets a beer and a slice of four-dollar pizza. We nudge our way to a small table. Rap music blares through the speakers, and I can’t stop glancing over at the excessively-tattooed bouncer by the bathrooms, with the vine-like ink stretching over his neck, scalp, and face.
Denis and I are not expecting much for the opener–we’ve never heard of him. Finally at 8:15, Lewis Del Mar and his band get on stage and actually are fantastic. I’m right in front of a speaker and the beat of the drums vibrate through my entire skull and I mildly worry that I might go deaf. Lewis Del Mar’s voice is loud and powerful and silky-smooth, and he impresses me. He says BORNS is a “beautiful man” and “an even more talented artist.” I’m inclined to agree. The middle-aged white man in front of me is jamming out and his posse are chugging beer like it’s their job. I judge the bleach-blonde women he’s with for wearing headbands like hippies, but it’s their life. After maybe five songs or so, the band leaves and we are left with more rap music and more waiting.
At 9:15 BORNS emerges onstage in all his lanky, fresh-faced glory. He opens with “Dopamine” and goes into a couple more songs before addressing the crowd. His speaking voice is so soft and gentle, I’m surprised he can belt out notes like he does. He takes off his leather jacket and the girls at the front of the stage go wild. He’s wearing a white crop top and I am smiling like an idiot. It’s difficult for my brain to process that I’m seeing this man in the flesh–I may be far away but I have a decent view.
BORNS reaches out the people at the front, takes pictures of him and the band with their phones. At one point he picks up a Polaroid camera and asks “What is this?” before figuring it out and snapping a picture with him and the bassist, then handing it back to its owner. A girl throws her panties onstage and he smiles and lets them dangle off the mic stand. His energy is positive and relaxed–he doesn’t command attention, but your attention goes to him nonetheless. During his last song he crowd surfs and I can’t help but be jealous of the hands that got to fondle him. The band goes offstage, and people start heading out of the venue. Denis and I want an encore, so we stay, and we are not disappointed. BORNS sings a cover of “Heroes” by David Bowie before officially leaving us.
It’s a cool night outside and the air feels good on my damp skin. We have a hard time believing we just witnessed such majesty, but we did. I pop my ears, clogged from all the noise. When we reach my car I see a bright orange envelope under my windshield wiper–a parking ticket. Of course. After going through half a tank of gas to get here and back, $50 for the ticket to the show, and $35 for the parking ticket, all in all, this concert has cost me over a hundred bucks. Still, despite being broke, tired, and wishing I had a better memory so I could relive the experience in clarity, it was worth it.