Sleeping at Speedy Ortiz


Image courtesy of Ethan M. Long. Licensed under CC BY 2.0.

This past weekend, I went to a concert for the first time in possibly several years (I’ve lost count). As anyone who follows me on Spotify can tell, my identity is not wrapped up in my musical choice: I alternate between listening to the Decemberists, the Avett Brothers, and Ke$ha more or less on loop. The process of finding new music is overwhelming to me, and so for the most part I don’t.

Needless to say, the show was not my idea–a friend texted me on Sunday evening, and reasoning that I didn’t have anything else planned, I agreed.

The show itself was at Wonderroot, a venue I had not been in since I was 16. It’s one of those all-purpose arts Things that I suspect most cities have–Atlanta has several–located in a big repurposed house with a recording studio and painting space and general artsy goings-on. There’s a community garden out back, because it’s that kind of place. They throw parties for folks who buy new art, and though I felt both too square and too old to be there, I am generally pleased that it exists.

The venue itself had all the aesthetic charm of someone’s Athens basement house show–dark and warm through other people’s body heat (and actually in a basement). Because I’m secretly a squirrel, the tight quarters and the darkness were fine by me. The fact that the beer was $1 a can was icing on the basement concert cake. I chatted with my friend and drank my beer and enjoyed being out of my element.

But then I realized that I had spent the two days prior to that concert on my feet–volunteering, attending an improv class, watching a standing-room-only comedy show, going for a walk on the Beltline. And the band wasn’t coming on until midnight. And my feet hurt, and my legs hurt, and my back hurt.

It was at that moment that I realized that I am officially beginning the aging process.

My beat-down legs, combined with three days in a row of sleep deprivation (thanks to my cat standing on me in the night + hanging around the theatre after drinks with a friend + general morning person get-up-and-go), made me want to crawl off into a corner and curl up to bed. But of course, because the show was in an arts collective’s basement, there were no chairs in which to curl. So instead, I stood there in the front row with my friend, trying not to fall asleep while standing.

The fact that–due to the small space and my friend’s desire to be in the front row–I was making direct eye contact with the band’s lead singer during the entire process made it extra weird. I cannot say with 100% certainty that I didn’t sleep standing up for a moment or two of the show. I was kept awake only by the fact that we were standing six inches from the speakers, a fact that meant that I still hadn’t fully regained my hearing when I woke up this morning.

It was a fun night out, despite being sleepy. I am constantly reminded that Atlanta contains vast multitudes of things about which I am totally, totally unaware. It can seem like a small city–and it is–but half the time that’s really just that it’s a segmented city and I’m bad about peeking outside of my segment.

That said, I’m wearing supportive shoes the next time I go to a show. My legs still hurt.

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