I have a list of bands who I absolutely want to see before I or they are gone. Some I’ve missed out on. It’s near certain that I’ll never get to see Nirvana or David Bowie in concert at this point. Some I’ve seen, and been disappointed by. Nine Inch Nails would probably have been better to see back in the “Downward Spiral” days versus the “Year Zero” days. Some I’ve seen and have enjoyed as much or more than I expected. Even without Kim Deal, the Pixies don’t let you down. Rammstein was on the list for a long time, and over this past summer I was finally able to check them off. They fall into the last category. The show was everything I wanted it to be and more. It was a spectacle. It was intense. The crowd was into it (with the exception of the person a couple of seats down to my right, who had no idea who Rammstein was and really wanted to hear some jazz fusion). I was into it. There was so much fire! And the venue was perfect. I’m not going to talk about the concert, though. I would rather talk about the interesting night I had before the concert.
I went to New York City to see Rammstein mostly due to my friend Emily. She, unfortunately, reads this blog and is probably mortified that she’s become a character in it now. She heard about the show in January, and sent out a message that she wanted to go and wondered who else would be up for a road trip to NYC to see the show. I was the only taker. A lot of fun was had by our friend group on the logistics of Emily and I on a road trip. Neither of us is what you would call “outgoing,” and the whole affair gained the nickname of “The Introverts’ Roadtrip.” There was a running theory that we would spend the whole weekend not talking to each other. That’s an extreme idea, but not out of the realm of possibilities. Neither of us is highly sociable, and usually prefer to keep to ourselves. We both have our reasons, quirks and neuroses to explain this, but that’s not terribly important to explain.
Regardless of the popular opinion, we did manage to hold some decent conversation on the way out to New York. We listened to some good music on the way, too. We stayed with my cousin Chip when we got there. He lives in the northern tip of the Bronx, just a few streets south of Yonkers. We got in late Friday and crashed at his place. On Saturday, the plan was to go into the city and see some sights with Chip. The concert was on Sunday, on Long Island, and we would drive out there and get a hotel for Sunday night near the venue.
On Saturday Chip took us into Manhattan. We got a metro card and took the bus and the subway down to Central Park. We wandered the park for a bit, then headed down Fifth Avenue. We headed over to Chinatown, then into Little Italy. At that point, Chip had to go to work. Emily and I had lunch on the street in Little Italy, then took the Subway to the east side to check out a curio shop she had heard about. From there, we walked all the way across Manhattan to the west side, and eventually found our way to Greenwich Village, where my cousin worked. We hung out with him for a bit. Took a stroll past Stonewall, and ended up at a bar called Fiddlesticks.
We got a table on the sidewalk and a couple of drinks. Over our drinks, we were having a pretty good discussion about mental health. We were comparing and contrasting our different triggers and defense mechanisms. We discussed coping mechanisms, and the nuances of anxiety and depression and how they feed and are fed by some of the other maladies we both live with. We were on our second drinks, beers instead of the cocktails we ordered to start, when I got a tap on my shoulder. The group at the table behind us, who’s conversation we had been eavesdropping on throughout the evening, wanted us to join them. Emily and I were both unsure, but we had ended up at this bar because I wanted what I called “a New York experience.” So I agreed and Emily came along for the ride. So we moved over to their table.
We were greeted by two couples. The first couple had a loud and very drunk local from Queens, probably in his sixties, who probably really got into the beat movement back in the day and never let go. His partner was also local, but far less vocal. Her job was to roll her eyes frequently at the things he declared. The other couple was in town from Kentucky. He was a seventy year old lawyer, she was his fifty year old wife. They had met at work. He was all business, which is impressive considering how much he had obviously had to drink. She was outgoing and flirty. At one point, she pantomimed grinding on him and smacking his ass. We were talking politics, of which we all seemed to agree, though our demographics and backgrounds were wildly different. It soon became clear that our host from Queens likes to do this, to gather random people around him and have conversations. Over the course of the evening, we would acquire a hedge fund manager from Texas who was in his forties or fifties, and on a trip to the bathroom our host would pull in a twenty year old financial services student who was dating the daughter of one of the stars of one of the “Real Housewives of…” shows. I know this because he brought it up as much as he could, especially when she texted him from the party going on inside to find out where he was. We all ended up talking for two or three hours at metal tables on the sidewalk of Greenwich Village. The topics ranged from politics to economics to music. It was a little crazy, but it was the New York experience I had been looking for. I’m still unsure if Emily enjoyed it as much as I did. Once the bar decided to kick us out, our boisterous host offered to move the party back to his house to listen to jazz records and partake in his stash of marijuana. I liked the idea of some old jazz records, wanted no part of the pot, and was frankly getting a little tired of the opinions of our host. Emily wanted no part of it. The other concern were that our new friends from Kentucky were going, and we didn’t see that going any way but bad. I had visions of trying to get a septuagenarian lawyer into a cab or an Uber after passing out in a strange apartment in Manhattan since his wife was not going to be in any physical shape to handle the task. We wished our friends good night, then headed on our way. We unfortunately ran into them again a couple of blocks later, where they were far more insistent that we join them again. We followed them for a couple of blocks, before being saved by a conveniently located subway entrance. And thus ended our time with the crazy guy from Queens and company.
Our night didn’t end there, though. We had an adventure seeing Times Square, more of an adventure trying to find a bathroom at 2 in the morning, and even more adventure trying to get back up to the Bronx, which ended up involving a lot more walking than was originally planned. We ended our adventure at 5am. The next day (well, a few hours later really), we headed out to Long Island and watched an amazing concert, then headed home that Monday morning.
A lot of fun, interesting and weird things happened in one day in NYC, and I’m glad I went, and I’m glad I got to hang out with Emily for it. Two highly awkward and typically anti-social people I know wandering around one of the most populous cities in the world is a really fun time. And the concert was amazing. I wouldn’t trade any part of that weekend, except maybe the two mile hike I forced us to take at the end of long Saturday.