I guess I was a bit of a late-bloomer when it came to concerts. It wasn’t until I was 18 that I bought tickets to my first show. I felt very grown-up driving to Cleveland with my friends to see The Violent Femmes. I remember two things about that night—1) We got in an accident on the way there (so grown-up indeed) and 2) How surprised I was at how old The Femmes were, but hell, I had my whole life in front of me that summer.
Now that I’m gearing up to see the band again—the irony that I’m now roughly the same age they were the first time I saw them is not lost on me.
And it seems to me that Red Butte and the Violent Femmes are a match made in concert booking heaven. In a cruel twist of fate, the midwestern punk demographic has suddenly become the Red Butte demographic.
The Femmes were the soundtrack to our collective teenage angst. “Add It Up” was featured on many a mix-tape. We shouted the lyrics to “Blister in the Sun” while driving with the windows down, and we laughed because we knew it was about masturbation—and patted ourselves on the back because we were old enough to know that it was about masturbation. Their music permeated our pop culture. It was in movies. It was on TV shows. And since it was rarely played on the radio, at least in small town America, you had to be in-the-know to recognize and appreciate it for what it was.
And what it was—and is—is a teenage anthem. It’s youthful exuberance. It’s the soundtrack to rites of passage. And this time we’ll listen with a glass of wine in our hands. Because that’s who we are now but we still like “American Music.”
The Violent Femmes play Red Butte Garden on Wednesday, June 13. The show is sold out, but you know what to do.