I first realized I was too old for some bands when I went to see the Norwegian band a-ha in San Diego. As an MTV addict, I loved their video for “Take On Me” as well as their album I’d consequently bought. But when I took my place in the theatre , I really did not fit in. I was in college; everyone else in the audience, spare the rare parent, was in junior high school, or just barely out of it. And to add to the humiliation, they were the kind of girls I was never hip enough to have hung out with. A drunk(!) 15-year-old teen queen and her posse squeezed in front of me, and she proceeded to lord it over her adoring coterie. Above my head, in the balcony, two 14-year-old cheerleaders unfurled a banner announcing “We love you, a-ha! xxx Missy and Kristi!” I was only 19, but I felt like an uncool grandmother crashing a pajama party. I did enjoy the music, particularly “Cry Wolf” from a-ha’s upcoming album, but after that, I never bought another album, or bothered to seek out or request their songs.
It doesn’t take much in age to make a difference. Peter and I like going to concerts of current indie bands, and the crowd is often comprised of people in their 20s. It’ll be more concentrated and younger for bands like My Chemical Romance and Hot Hot Heat, and somewhat older, and more spread out age-wise, for bands like Stan Ridgway and Radio 4. But in any case, we’re among fellow adults, who respect the band and will probably continue listening to them for the rest of their lives. I can’t attribute that kind of loyalty to girls still in the throes of preadolescence, and it’s kind of embarrassing to find out you’ve been enjoying puberty pop in the mistaken belief it was real music.
Peter has done his best to protect me from making the same kind of mistake again. Whenever I’ve expressed interest, in say, blink-182 or Good Charlotte, Peter warned me away. However, a few years ago, I got into Snow Patrol. So that year, Peter bought me their Final Straw album for Christmas. I loved it, and I went to the Snow Patrol web site for more information about the band. I downloaded a Snow Patrol backdrop for my computer screen, which was also available as a book cover. The last fact should have been warning enough, since I haven’t had to cover my books since, well, high school. I was soon embarrassed by my Snow Patrol backdrop. At least two of the guys were giving the kinds of significant glances that can make those without a reciprocating romantic interest uncomfortable. It was just the thing to thrill a 13-year-old ignoring her teacher, and passing the time instead by writing “Mrs. Gary Lightbody” over and over in her notebook; it really wasn’t appropriate for me.
And so, I stopped listening to Snow Patrol. They have a new album out, and I hear the songs on the radio. They’re good, but I’m too old for them. I wish bands came with warnings, like “not for listeners past the age of consent.” It’s ageist, I know, but I’d be ok with that.