The Black Keys with The Flaming Lips: 7/12/2013

I was really psyched for this show. I had never seen the Black Keys so I was excited about seeing them for the first time, and I had seen the Flaming Lips before at MoogFest and they were awesome, so I was totally looking forward to seeing them again.

My wife and I drove to Simpsonville, SC, which was nearly a 2-hour drive. There were some pretty strong storms that day, so I was bracing myself for having to stand out in the rain for the concert. What I did not anticipate was the shit that we were going to have to deal with.

We got to the Charter Amphitheatre and were directed to a “parking lot” which was a field that had turned into a swamp because of all the rain. I was very concerned that our little car was going to get stuck, but I kept the forward motion and we got to our spot in the field. The first thing that assaulted me was a vile stench like raw sewage. As we got out of the car and started wading through the mire, I quickly realized that it was the ground below us that was emanating the foul odor. I had this image of sewage percolating up from the ground and mixing with the mud that was coating my sandaled feet. I was genuinely concerned that I might be exposed to hepatitis or something of that nature.

Eventually we got to paved area and discovered, to our dismay, that they had not opened the gates because of the storms. Supposedly they were concerned about lightening, so thousands of people were lined up in a labyrinthine queue that seemed to go on forever. We got in line and waited… and waited… and waited. Finally, the line began to move and after a painfully long time, we were in the amphitheatre.

It did not get any better. There were virtually no facilities in this place—a couple porta-johns at each far end, and a couple vendors selling beer and shitty soft drinks. The people there were a nightmare, and we were sandwiched in the muddy general admission area along with some people who clearly imbibed way too much.

The Flaming Lips came out, and they were over-the-top, as usual. Although they were good, I personally thought they were better the previous time I saw them. But hey, not every performance is going to be the best.

Afterward, the Black Keys took the stage. They sounded great and I was enjoying the music, but the crowd and the general environment were beginning to wear on me: the smell of vomit, the sweaty people pressing against me, etc. I was beginning to feel like I am getting too old for this kind of shit. When my wife suggested we leave early, I gladly acquiesced. We had seen well over an hour of the Black Keys, so I felt like I had gotten my money’s worth. We slogged back through the fetid swamp to our car and drove out of there before the crush of traffic. After that, I vowed I would never go to another concert at that venue. No band is worth having to deal with that nightmare place.

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