Sunday evening a bunch of teenagers show up at Thalia Hall. They’re here because their friends or friends of their friends or kids they wanna be like or be with are on the bill. The headlining band has a record out with a big-deal label. It’s a night to celebrate.
I have misgivings about being here. It’s one thing to be the old guy at the show when everyone else is at least of age according to the government; another to be surrounded by actual children. But with all the proud parents, I have protective cover. They’ve even roped off the balcony for family seating. That’s the one area I’m not allowed.
I find out about this show from an article Leor wrote. My friend Brian’s kid is in one of the bands. There will be zines for sale. Curiosity beat out discomfort. I figure that I could not belong in this crowd just as I don’t belong in throngs of my own cohort or in herds of geriatrics. It’s always like going on safari.
The merch area’s overflowing with teens. They’re like colts or calves, skittish and awkward. Most are giggly and excited. The tables are covered with tapes, t-shirts, patches, and zines. It’s weird but sort of touching that people who’ve lived through screens their entire lives are attracted to these outmoded means of expression. Before coming here, I’d spent the whole day doing layout on what amounts to a slightly more advanced version of what these kids are hawking. Makes me feel like I have some point of entry, a connection. I buy a five-issue run of a zine devoted to horror movies to give to Mallory and a few others for me.
The hall starts to fill up as the first band hits the stage. I listen a few minutes, then wander upstairs and flip through my pile of zines at a table in the lobby. I wonder whether the parents of the kids who made these things showed them how or if they blundered through on their own. Is it possible to be amateurish with paper, scissors, and glue in the cyber age? Does it mean the same thing to run off a hundred zines now as it did forty years ago?
Downstairs, Brian’s manning his kid’s band’s merch table. He looks really happy. His young daughter’s helping by getting t-shirts from a big box in the back when someone orders one.
I do a sketch of his kid’s band. They’re really good. So good I leave after a couple of the headliner’s songs so the traces of the previous set can linger as I bike home.