I've mentioned before that I used to go to a lot of concerts and that I used to make a point to show up very early. This is about one of the times that I showed up crazily early. I guess I was pretty excited about going to see Mogwai. Too excited.
I'm not able to pinpoint the exact date of the show, but I know that it was a Thursday. By my best recollection, it was the spring of 2000. I used to keep old Cat's Cradle schedules for this precise reason. I used to say that there would be a day, maybe eleven years down the road when I would need to know the exact date of a show I went to and who was opening and who played the nights before and after. Unfortunately, those schedules are long gone now, but I can say with about 91% certainty that it was spring 2000.
I had just gotten into Mogwai and got really pumped up about going to see them play. Maybe it's because I was going to a lot of shows back then (and had more opportunity to have my mind blown). Maybe I was more impressionable. Maybe the late nineties really were a "golden age" of indie rock and of live performance. I don't know, but it seems like a lot of the best shows I've ever been to came from a five- or six- year window just after I got out of college. I was hoping that this show was going to be one to add to that list.
I was looking forward to this show for months. I don't think I can possibly iterate the amount of anticipation I was feeling. So when Thursday rolled around, I did my normal routine of leaving town crazily early to ensure that I was the FIRST person in after they opened the doors. To this day, I still don't know why I thought it was so important to me to do that, but that was how I used to roll.
I arrived to the Cat's Cradle and they hadn't yet opened the door, so I stood around in the parking lot waiting. And waiting. As the minutes passed, other people started to show up in the parking lot and they didn't look like they were Mogwai fans. They were straight-up Rasta. Whatever, I thought. I guessed that Mogwai's appeal wasn't just to pasty white kids, and I didn't think much of it. Their numbers started to grow and I thought that it was strange that these guys were queueing up for Mogwai, but still didn't think a whole lot of it. Then some other Rasta fellows started to load some gear into the club. I thought that this was a really strange bill, with a reggae band opening for a post-rock band, but it wasn't my place to judge.
I'm not into reggae at all. For maybe about two weeks when I was in the eleventh grade, I thought that I was, but it didn't stick. Over the years, my tolerance threshold for reggae has gotten lower, and it wasn't really all that high back then, but I would have put up with 30 minutes or so from an opening act.
Then another reggae group started to load in their gear and I started to think that something was wrong. Too embarrassed to ask anyone, I casually strolled over to the front window of the club, whistling that tune that you whistle when you're trying to look like you're casually minding your own business. I pretended to be curious about the upcoming shows, but really I was making sure that I hadn't botched the date of the show. I didn't see a main calendar, so I just glanced over the placards. Oh look! Guided by Voices! I'll have to go to that. The Wedding Present? Count me in! Stereolab? Wouldn't miss it! And there was the poster for the Mogwai show. The show was on a Thursday, and there I was on Thursday.
A week early.
I was a little embarrassed and actually angry. Angry at myself for being a complete imbecile. Angry at the situation. Angry that I didn't like reggae. A normal person would have shaken it off, gone to get some dinner and found some way to make the best of an undeniably funny situation. I could have called a friend or two and met them for drinks. I could have gone on my own for drinks. I could have found something -- anything -- to do in Chapel Hill. Instead, I stomped back to my car and drove straight to Greensboro.
I came back for the show on the correct date, but with the wind already taken out of my sails. After I had committed an error that led to anitclimax, I couldn't rebuild the anticipation. I was already defeated, so I didn't get charged up. Maybe it was my blasé attitude going into it, but I can't say that I remember anything about the show. Except that I bought a cd copy of Ten Rapid from the merch desk. It's fair to say that although I didn't have a lousy time, I didn't have my socks knocked off. And now I remember my first (and only) Mogwai show not because of anything they did on stage but because of my own miscue.
To this day, whether it's a concert or a hockey game or an airplane trip or a play or what have you, I always check the tickets twice just before I leave the house. Once to make sure I've got them and once to make sure I've got the time and date right. And then I check them again. And then, later, I check them again. And just before I enter the venue, I check them again.