As much as I enjoy living on Davidson’s campus, sometimes you just need a few hours away from campus. So, I impulsively bought tickets for a concert in Charlotte. I attended a Cage the Elephant concert with my friend Emily (Evans) the first night back from Thanksgiving break. As we sat in heavy traffic on interstate 77 listening to the new Cage the Elephant album, we chatted about our first semester of Humes: the ups and downs, most memorable moments, and embarrassing awkwardness of the pre-orientation trip. Eventually, we arrived at the venue and overpaid for parking. Standing in the surprisingly short line, I jokingly mentioned writing a campus commentary for the concert. We giggled at the joke and the conversation continued. After security guards haphazardly searched our bags, we entered the venue, spent too much on t-shirts, and claimed space in the mosh pit. The opening act didn’t come out for a while. Standing in a crowd of edgily dressed college students and struggling to see the stage, I began to seriously consider writing a commentary. So, I present to you an Off-Campus Commentary.
Maybe the downtime between the acts left me bored or maybe the Humanities curriculum has programmed me to seek conceptual schemes. Either way, I found a surprising amount of connection between the pop-rock performance and themes of Humes. The opening act, The Winnetka Bowling League, told a story between songs. The group started in California and has yet to take off. The lead singer described how they received a package before one show. The package left all four of them surprised. He continued, “We aren’t Harry Styles, so we’ve never received fan mail. Suspiciously, we opened the package and found a pair of khaki pants. Naturally, we all assumed the pants had anthrax in the pockets. We discussed who would take one for the team and risk anthrax poisoning. But right as we decided our bass guitarist would take the pants out of the box, our manager walked in and exclaimed ‘ah yes my pants made it here in time.’ We had gotten our hopes up for our manager’s khakis. Anyways, here’s a song about it.” As they performed Song Title, I couldn’t help but think how the band could’ve had a slight shift in conceptual schemes. For a moment, the band grew excited with the thought of a piece of fan mail putting them on the path to stardom. A revolution of fame and fortune seemed in reach, but their manager crushed their brief shift in conceptual schemes. After a few more songs, the opening band left and we waited impatiently for Cage the Elephant to perform.
The pop-rock band presented a wildly outlandish and highly cohesive show. I felt a strong sense of community in the crowd. We all came to the concert for similar reasons; all crammed to get closer to the stage; all took countless pictures and videos; all knew the words to every song. The band performed each song with an energy that spread throughout the crowd. The lead singer first appeared on stage in a beekeepers’ outfit. He then swung around the microphone stand and tore off his shirt. The vibe felt surreal. Although I question the sobriety of the band members, especially the lead singer, I found some of their words between songs surprisingly powerful. Some of the one-liners felt like they could belong in a Humes lecture. After hitting the last high note of the song, the lead singer bent down and picked up a cellphone. Someone had thrown their phone on stage. After taking a selfie on the stranger’s newly cracked phone, the lead singer began to share his opinions on how to live life. Two phrases stuck out to me the most: “I live to just observe things” and “the best parts of life are unscripted.” Again, both bands’ stories left me thinking about the remarkable connections between the Humanities course and these two pop-rock bands.