There’s nothing like a live concert. I went to my second Tom Petty concert last night. The first time he came to Houston was on his “Wildflowers” tour which, I must say, still stands to be my favorite. Don’t get me wrong though for last night was a jam. My friends and I arrived an hour early at the Cynthia Woods Pavilion to snag a decent mound of grass. We had all purchased lawn seats so it was a matter of the early bird catching the worm. Four of us rode together but the fifth person of our party had yet to arrive and we had his ticket. The worst thing you can do when attending a concert with a group of people is to separate but someone had to reserve our seats and someone had to wait for our belated friend. So two of us went ahead through the gates and two of us stayed behind. My ticket had yet to be torn. Ten minutes before the show was scheduled to start our late arrival had yet to arrive. We were waiting on my friend’s boyfriend, and feeling giddy about missing the beginning of the show, and an incredible urge to urinate, I made the decision to meander on through the blue metal gates that stood just inches away from me. The line to the bathroom moved quick and exiting the facilities, my mind quickly took notice of my current disposition. It had never dawned on me what I was going to do after I came out of the bathroom. Hundreds upon thousands of nameless strangers surrounded me, and though I strained my eyes to catch a glimpse of a familiar face, the situation looked hopeless. I trekked back and forth the length of the blue, jail-like gates but my friend was nowhere to be seen. Now, under normal circumstances this situation would have sent me into a panic attack for I hate being in a crowd alone, especially one this big, but thirty minutes back I had digested a valium and smoked two joints rolled with kind bud. Steep, cement stairs climbing quite a height lay to my right, and this I suspected was where I needed to go. I followed the crowds of Petty goers to the top of the hill and stood there in awe. The lawn stretched across the pavilion for as far as I could see. A collage of heads covered the hill declining into oblivion until the reserved seats could be seen down by the stage. “OK, stay calm, didn’t someone say they would be sitting to the left of the stage somewhere in the middle?” I was already to the far left so my plan was to stay at the top of the hill and just scan down. “Surely someone will be watching for us.” My eyes caught a glimpse of arms waving back and forth in my direction and at that moment my friends have never looked so beautiful. Our compadre back at the gate still had not made her way to where we were and neither had her boyfriend. I again was left behind to save our place as the other two went to go back for the other two. I was not moving again that night. The opening band (I forget their name) was halfway through the set and the sun was on a fast decline. I stood up every five minutes to look for everybody and finally I spotted them waiting in line at the beer stand which was located at the top of the hill centered from where I was seated. After waving my arms about, my friends spotted me and made their way down to our destination. Someone handed me a beer and ten minutes later the house lights shut off and Tom Petty took the stage. I sang along to every song, screaming and clapping on cue. Thirty minutes into the set my friends and I had seated ourselves as did the people up front and the people behind. We drank our beer, smoked our weed, and puffed on cigarettes enjoying a rare cool night in Houston with the music of a live band filling the air. It was time for the encore so we all stood up, lit our bics, and screamed for another jam. The sky was pitch black except for the glowing of thousands of hand-held flames flickering against the backdrop of night. The roar of the crowd grew louder as the stage lights appeared and a guitar led into the intro of the classic song “Gloria” originally done by The Animals. Petty’s version blew me away as I and the rest of the audience chanted “Gloria” along with Tom.
September 20, 1999