It takes a lot of energy to rock on.
It’s about 6 o’clock on Friday, plenty of summer sun left. As they park the car, a trio of guys who’ve been friends since third grade jabbers about their jobs, cars, best Tex-Mex, girls (of course) and their seats in the stadium a short walk away. In the six years since high school, rocking out with the Foo Fighters, their favorite band, has become a summer tradition, taking them to nearly every corner of the country.
Each trip has been fun or memorable in some way – like sitting through two play sets in the rain at a soaked Wrigley Field in Chicago. Or the time David nailed backstage passes for a show in Phoenix by winning a radio trivia contest. Since then, no one has made fun of his nerdy skill set.
Maybe tonight will be one for the books as well. The friends don’t think about it, but natural gas and oil will be along for the show – fueling and powering vehicles and electricity for lights, instruments and sound equipment while supporting virtually everything else associated with the occasion: the stadium itself, concert-goers like themselves and the Fighters themselves. And powering memories, too.
It’s about 30 minutes until showtime, and Jeff’s in line to grab some beers. He sees a funny meme on Instagram and chuckles. The guy in front of him looks back blankly, but a young woman behind him laughs in short blasts from her belly. To himself Jeff thinks: Wow, that’s a great laugh!
Beers in tow, Jeff heads back to his group’s seats. He starts to tell David and Stephen about the woman in the concession line, but they’re busy snapping photos of the stage and themselves with their phones, and then the Foo Fighters appear.
Sixty thousand people go nuts at once. It sounds like a Navy fighter on takeoff. Jeff rises to his feet with everyone else and is instantly met with a splash on his neck and down his back – about 28 ounces of a 32-ounce Dr. Pepper from a Foo Fighters souvenir cup up behind him.
Then there’s that great laugh again. Looking back and up, Jeff sees the woman from the concession stand line, hand cupped over her mouth trying to stifle the belly laughs. “My bad,” she says, now looking mortified. Nothing he can do but grin and bear it. The tickets cost too much, and they traveled too far to quit the show and go home. Besides, David and Stephen are oblivious to the soda drenching he just received.
The stadium lights go dark and everyone screams again. A wave of sound rolls from the stadium’s speaker system, and lighted effects pulse in an awesome display. Jeff and his buddies lose themselves in the band’s familiar tunes as well as new stuff from their latest album. A couple of times Jeff looks over his shoulder at the Dr. Pepper-spiller and sees her jumping around with her friends, also lost in the musical performance. There are flashes from people’s phones all around them.
Ten songs in, and the band runs off for a break. Jeff endures some hand-to-hand combat to reach the sales stand where they’re hawking commemorative T-shirts, posters and caps. He reaches for a gray T-shirt screen-printed with the band’s name printed in script on the front and the tour schedule on the back. At the same instant a woman’s hand with black fingernail polish grabs the same shirt. It’s the laugher-spiller. “You take it,” she says. “I owe you one.” Jeff’s white T-shirt – with an owl’s image on the front and last summer’s tour schedule on the back, visible through the DP stain – is still damp. “Yeah,” he thinks, “more like you owe me half a dozen.”
He and she chat about the first half of the show, and he learns that she, like him, became a fan in high school and does a road trip to at least one show a year. She assures him the drink-spilling thing wasn’t planned. Jeff laughs and he tells her he’s been wetter before – Wrigley a few years back. Turns out she was there, too, in a poncho. They take a selfie and part.
Fast forward 18 months. Jeff and Sarah, the woman with the spectacular laugh and a bit of a clumsy streak, are married and making memories together at FF concerts and other places. The moral of the story is you never know what could happen, hanging out with 60,000 of your closest friends.
Natural gas and oil: Powering the moments that matter.