My husband is in a band. I mean, this isn’t what he’s known for, but still. He’s khaki pants on the outside and rocker guy on the inside—or at least he morphs into one every Tuesday night. This hobby of his is endearing and surprisingly practical. It gives him an outlet for his musical passion while simultaneously keeping us from falling completely into fuddy-duddy mode at home with four kids, who incidentally are also the four reasons why I can’t get out easily to see his shows. But, I hear about the band, I watch the videos, and I always plan to go to the next one. The next one! I’ll go to the next one.
The band books their shows where they can. Some venues have recognizable storefronts on Google maps, some lead to shady warehouses where you can’t quite make out the entrance. Saturday night’s venue was the latter, which was when my I’ll go to the next one finally came.
With babysitters situated and chilled Kombuchas in our tote, my friend and I settled into her minivan for the start of our adventurous night. We loaded the address to the “venue” and began blindly following directions. Siri turned us this way and that, and down shady streets of Philadelphia that I’d never seen before. She eventually uttered the words that usually bring relief, “You have arrived.” We looked at each other wide-eyed, Is this really the place?
We shrugged our shoulders and walked toward the entrance of what appeared to be a warehouse. Six eighteen-wheeler truck beds flanked an unloading dock. We could see a fog-filled loft two stories high with concert-lighting and loud music blaring through its open windows. We must be in the right spot, right? After all, Siri said so.
My friend and I had just cruised in from suburbia. Our minivan full of booster seats and crumbs parked vulnerably along a side street of Philly was our first clue that we were somewhere far from our norm. Our usual you have arrived locations include Trader Joe’s or preschool lines. But now, we were walking up metal steps into a poorly lit building. A curious haze lingered above our heads as we wandered beside chain-linked caging and up darkened staircases looking for our husbands. We passed people who stared at us bewilderedly. Between my friend’s cotton-fresh hoodie and my new Target slip-ons, we were clearly out of place. As we climbed stairs higher and higher, the sound of a booming bass grew closer. It seemed we were making progress but I wondered if we would make it out alive. Glazed eyes and long stares had me wondering if the people we were passing would even remember seeing us the next day, much less the next hour.
We finally made it to the closed door of the loft. The one with the lights and the fog and the booming bass—the loft that led us to believe we were in the right spot when we arrived. As a daughter of a retired FBI agent, I took the closed door as a sign we should turn around. Why would a concert door be closed?
I was tallying up my concerns of why going in wasn’t a good idea when my friend pushed open the door. She walked right in to find what we expected: a man singing into a microphone in a loud room with white sheets flowing from the ceiling. (Think Beyonce music video.) But, this conspicuous performer was performing a mega show for . . . absolutely no one. My friend turned around and mouthed, he’s alone! We had to get out of this place.
But really, where were we? We took one last haul down to the opposite side of the building. Men passed us by carrying mattresses, people sat tiredly on chairs with dazed looks in their eyes. We never found the band. No matter how far we were willing to go, we were never going to find Diverse Magnetic. We were in the wrong place.
Our husbands of course came to our rescue, texting us where to meet them. Our reunion was met with nervous laughter and relief, as we quickly walked to the correct location which was just a smidge further down the road. We were close—but so very far away.
As I push my son on a swing back in suburbia, I wonder if the solo performer remembers when my friend burst into his show? What was the curious haze? Where were the mattresses going? I imagine no one wondered about us once we finally left, but that’s okay. We walked through the wrong door that night. And I’ll never forget it.