The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper


3 min read

By Susannah Clark

I spent my Last Summer of Independence on a concert-binge.

Taking advantage of the last extended time period where I could live rent-free and guilt-free in my parents’ house, any pocket money I could scrounge went straight to my Ticketmaster account. Along with juggling an unpaid internship and nightshifts at a bookstore, I am now on a first-name basis with every pierced and tattooed bouncer at just about every music venue in the Washington D.C. area.

I learned a lot of things this summer, but the most resonating lesson was this: The ‘real world’ sucks.

Nine-to-Five is my equivalent of Dante’s Inferno, only with fewer changes in scenery. After 10 straight 40-hour weeks of staring at a computer screen in a claustrophobic cube, I’m starting to have second thoughts about my decision to graduate college a semester early this December.

Concerts were my oxygen mask. After work, I would untuck my blouse and escape to rock venues where I could flaunt the holes in my pantyhose instead of hiding them. Starting with Bruce Springsteen in May, my soundtrack of the hottest months included M. Ward, Jenny Lewis and the Sir Paul McCartney. The climax came in early August, with the three-day songasm that is Lollapalooza in Chicago.

Sure, I spent hundreds of dollars in a time when coupon-clipping is the new black…but better to get out of my system now, while my parents still feed me. Right?

My last hurrah of the summer was the Virgin Freefest, billionaire Richard Branson’s charitable gift to hipsters in light of our wounded economy.  Held the Sunday after the first week of classes, the free festival featured pop rock veterans Weezer and Blink-182, the two bands that shaped my adolescence.

In a way, Freefest was my last day of childhood. Before returning to a final chaotic semester of deadlines and Facebook melodrama, I got one last chance to stop giving a damn. I spent the entire day skipping around in my Converse All-Stars, gorging on fried food and avoiding impromptu mosh-pits. The fountain of youth flows on.

While I made it through Weezer’s set with full cheering capacity, the final and most sentimental act was much more of a challenge.  There, on stage after a two-year break-up, was a trio of musicians I worshiped through middle school and high school, what will probably be the seven hardest years of my life. While posters of their puppy-eyed faces are no longer plastered on my bedroom walls, to this day, I remain a savant of everything Blink-182—lyrics, liner notes and dates each member has taken to the Grammys.

While it was a nostalgic thrill to see the band play together again, the simpleton lyrics and power-chord progressions failed to hold up compared to the countless indie and classic rock concerts I treated myself to this summer.

We made it through four songs. It was 10:30 p.m., and all I wanted to do was go to bed.  We left the pavilion early, to beat concert traffic and make it home by midnight.

Well, I guess this is growing up.