the smell of my desperation has become a stench

My night with Arcade Fire in the suburbs

Monday afternoon I returned from running errands to find my cousin McKenzie and Marlo in the kitchen when McKenzie reminded me that she needed to leave a bit early because she was going to see Arcade Fire that night. I mumbled some curse words under my breath out of jealousy (McKenzie is Mormon and fragile, I try to be sensitive), and told her to have a good time. Sure, she’d be seeing one of the greatest bands of the decade, bet me and Marlo? We had a date with Elmo, on the count of three, two, one… SUCK IT.

That left me with about an hour to finish up some work, and about ten minutes after sitting down at my desk Tyrant walked in with his laptop perched in his right arm.

“Have you ever heard of this band called… where is it… Arcade Fire?” he asked, and he pronounced it as if he might catch some disease by saying it out loud.

“Of course I know who Arcade Fire is,” I said. “They won the Grammy for Album of the Year.”

“News to me!” he said, and then he continued to stand there in silence.

“What’s going on? What are you doing?”

“What do you mean? I just wanted to know if you knew who they were.”

“Why?”

“Oh, never mind,” he said, and as he turned to go back into his office he rattled off, “I don’t think you’d want to see them in concert. Too last minute.”

“TYRANT!” I yelled. “What is going on? Also, if you are screwing with me I can pretend I’m not on my meds and throw this water bottle at your head.”

“I’m not screwing with you! Their publicist sent me an email and wants to know if you and Jon would like to go the concert, maybe get backstage. I’ll just tell her you’re too busy.”

That’s when I turned to Jon, told him to tackle Tyrant to the ground, grab his computer and run.

“Are you telling me you’re interested?” Tyrant asked.

INTERESTED? I learned how to snowboard listening to their first album. In fact, I remember when I first heard that album, how I experienced the same chills I got when I heard Nirvana for the first time, when I heard OK Computer for the first time, knowing that I was listening to something very different, something that would change things in music. I have been a huge fan ever since and when they won that Grammy I actually cried because they were so genuinely shocked and thankful and everything a rock band normally is not.

“She gave me her number,” he said. “I can call and see what’s going on.”

Not fifteen minutes later I ran downstairs, hopped the child safety gate and was all DUDE! MCKENZIE! Do you want to meet Arcade Fire?! And she was like, is this some sort of awful trick Tyrant is pulling on the both of us? Because she, too, was willing to pretend she wasn’t on the meds that she doesn’t actually take.

I also tweeted this:

One of my favorite responses was, “Why not go home and change them before you meet him?”

Oh, twitter. So often you are unintentionally hilarious.

Several phone calls later we had my niece lined up to babysit for the evening, and with both cameras packed we headed south to Utah County for the concert (land of massive suburban sprawl, “where dead shopping malls rise like mountains beyond mountains”). Because, yes, we also got photo passes. Meaning for the first three songs we got to be at the foot of the stage, mere feet away from the band, and snap as many shots as we could fire off. It also meant that Will Butler, brother of the lead singer, Win, almost hit me in the head with his drumstick when it flew out of his hands.

For a second I seriously thought that the most polite thing to do would be to yell, “HEY, WILL! YOU DROPPED THIS.” And then casually hand it back to him. Because he totally would have been able to hear me over the deafening roar of the guitars and audience.

Instead, I grabbed the stick and handed it to one of the kids in the front row. No way I was going to keep it for myself since I was already lucky enough to be where I was, and if the Universe has taught me anything, it’s KEEP THE FLOW GOING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION. When you get lucky, help with the luck of someone else. Otherwise you’re just writing shit about your boss on your website, and next thing you know you’re unemployed.

After the first three songs we headed to the back of the general admission area where we could spread out a bit and dance around. Just as the band ripped into one of the popular singles off of their latest album a guy in front of us held up his phone AND TRIED TO SHAZAM IT.

Oh, yes. I really did just type that.

For those of you unfamiliar with Shazam, it’s an application you can use to identify a song. It listens to several seconds of a song, checks it against a database, and returns the artist and name of the song if it can. Maybe the guy really didn’t know the song or had just forgotten the name of it. Benefit of the doubt.

BUT. It just seems like the makers of that application didn’t sit down and go, you know what this world needs? You know when you’ve paid good money to see a band, and you don’t have a fucking clue what song they’re playing even though that song is one of the most popular of their career? We need something to fix THIS SPECIFIC PROBLEM.

Makers of Shazam, you fixed it.

After the concert was over I found McKenzie and her sister Shelby who are both such huge Arcade Fire fans that they drove to LA last summer to see them in concert. Together we all met with the band’s publicist, and she walked us back to a giant room filled with dozens of Win and Will’s Utah-based family members. Turns out they grew up in a Mormon family and have a ton of cousins out in these parts. I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, THE MORMON DOES NOT STOP WITH THIS WEBSITE.

You are correct.

We sat back while both Win and Will met with their family, and in the meantime we got to say hello to the drummer. I told him that I loved it that whenever he was on camera during the show he was smiling, and he smacked his forehead. Apparently he thinks it makes him look goofy, but I assured him that it was quite refreshing. Because he looked like he was enjoying himself! This is his job, and look how much he loves it!

I once saw Interpol live and the bassist looked so pissed during the entire set that you could have sworn someone was holding a gun to his head going, ACT EMO OR I’LL SHOOT.

Finally we got to meet Win, and I had a list of things in my head that I wanted to say to him, starting with congratulating him on the Grammy, and how do you wrap your head around what you guys have brought to music? Oh! And my brother served his Mormon mission in Montreal! (These guys are based out of Montreal, so you know, naturally, through that connection he would have thought we were soul buddies.)

But when he turned to shake my hand all I could mutter was AAAHHM SUCH A HUUUUUGE FAN! Drool pouring out the side of my mouth, my eyes suddenly crossed.

He was so gracious and warm, smiled in spite of the horror unfolding in front of him, and then he agreed to have his picture taken with me and my cousins.

(By the way, Shelby had her baby YESTERDAY! Little Maxwell is such a little sweetie, although I hear she was on the verge of naming him Arcadia. JOKE. I JOKE! Sort of. Congratulations, Shelby!)

You would think that this is the end of this EPIC SCREED, but no. Not even. Not by far. Remember? My next memoir is going to be Life With a Mythical Bobcat.

Let me begin this ending with a tiny bit of backstory (don’t worry, it’s not some bipolar fueled tangent, PROMISE). Whenever I have held meet ups in various cities and during my book tour, guys would come up to me and say, without fail, “My wife reads your blog and told me I had to say hello.” It was always the wife or the girlfriend or the really close friend who was a girl, SHE was the one who sent the guy.

In fact, I’d see a guy approaching and I’d say, wait, don’t tell me, your wife sent you. And he’d be all, YOU’RE LIKE, A MAGICIAN.

So.

We looked around for Will, but he was surrounded by family. A LOT of family. And since it was already 11 PM and my pregnant cousin had been standing for five hours, we headed for the elevator that lead to the exit. Still reeling from the thrill of it all, we were buzzing, smiling, tripping over each other as we stepped into the elevator. And just as the door was closing two hands shot through the vertical space in between them to thrust them open. AND THOSE HANDS BELONGED TO WILL BUTLER.

He was out of breath, having run to catch the elevator. And as he pushed the doors open, he said, “Is there someone here named Heather?”

My father named me Heather so that as a kid when I was outside playing and it was time to go home, he could step out onto the porch and sing, “Come hither Heather Hamilton!” Tangent? Yes. TWEE? Totally, but that is exactly what went through my mind when Will asked that question.

“I’m Heather!” I spit out since I had enough drool to fill a bowl of oatmeal.

His smile revealed one of the most beautiful set of teeth I have ever witnessed in person, and he said, “My wife saw your tweet, and she said that I had to say hello to you.”

WOULD I SHIT YOU. I THINK NOT.

Jon said that this was the best My Wife Said anecdote we would ever get to describe to our children.

(Many thanks to Maureen! You made some dreams come true!)

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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