A couple of months ago, Alex came into my office.
"Mom?" she said. "Panic! at The Disco is coming to Houston. Can we get tickets to go see them?"
My heart sank. It's not that I had anything against Panic! at The Disco -- to be honest, I didn't know anything about them -- but given that there are a couple of bands that Alex loves that I find painful to listen to (Black Veil Brides, I'm lookin' at you), I was a little concerned. But I also felt guilty, since the last concert that I took her to was The Jonas Brothers when she was 5, and now that she's an actual guitar player and all, I really should be more proactive in encouraging her love of music. So I googled.
My heart sank further. "Alex," I said, "the concert is at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion. In June. It's an outdoor venue, and do you realize what the weather is like in Texas in June?"
"Mom, please? I really, really, really want to go see them..."
I kept looking, and realized that Panic! was actually the opening band for Weezer.
As it happens, I know the wife of the bass player for Weezer. Jillian Lauren is a brilliant writer who I've met several times at various conferences. She's the author of two mind-blowing memoirs: Some Girls, a book about her life as part of a harem (yes, really!), and Everything You Ever Wanted, about the adoption of her first son, Tariku. (A quick aside: seriously, buy those books, and read them, in that order. She's a gifted writer, and her story is extraordinary.) She's an inspiring speaker and a joy-filled, kind person -- the sort of lovely that makes you feel like you've met a kindred spirit within five minutes of speaking to her. So I made a pact with myself: if Jillian was planning on being in town for the concert, I'd buy the tickets and try to re-connect with her -- that would definitely make it worthwhile. If she wasn't, then we would pass.
"Maybe," I said out loud to my waiting daughter. Her face fell. "I just need to check on a few things first. It could happen, but give me a moment."
I pinged Jillian. "Hey, friend -- so I see that Weezer is playing in Houston in a couple months. Since Panic! at The Disco is opening for them, my daughter wants to go, so I'm thinking of buying tickets. Any chance I'll get to see you, if I do?"
Her response was quick, "Actually, yes! It's the first date of the tour, so the boys and I were planning on being there. But don't worry about buying tickets -- I'll get you passes!" I protested -- I certainly had no problem getting the tickets myself -- but Jillian wouldn't hear of it. And so Friday night, the three of us headed north to The Woodlands for the concert.
After we arrived, Jillian met us and took us backstage. Naturally, it was great -- it was wonderful to see Jillian, and meet her two boys, and Scott, her husband. That alone was a thrill. But friends, when I tell you that Jillian was amazing to Alex. She took her to briefly see where Panic! at The Disco were hanging out before the concert (Alex has not stopped saying: "I met Brendon Urie! He smiled at me!" since). She asked Jillian questions about what life was like on the road as a working musician. Jillian even offered to take her on their tour bus, an invitation Alex gleefully accepted, and when she entered, she was wide-eyed with amazement. And this all happened completely because of Jill's generosity. I couldn't be more grateful to her for giving Alex the experience of seeing what behind the scenes of a rock concert and a professional musician's life looks like, and I know Alex will never forget it.
Because I wanted to be sensitive to the fact that we were, in essence, in the bands' private workspaces (not to mention, with respect to the tour bus, their home for the next few months), we didn't take any photographs backstage. And after catching up with Jillian (and hugging her tightly in deep gratitude), we excused ourselves and made our way to our (incredible) seats in the Pavilion.
After a brief wait, Panic! at the Disco walked on stage.
So, about Panic! at The Disco -- they were wonderful. As I said before, I didn't really have a whole lot of expectations for their performance, so I was happily surprised: they were awesome. Their music is fun, their sound is really great, and the three of us enjoyed every minute of it (perhaps Alex more than Marcus and me, what with all the smiling). The best part, however, was when suddenly, with no warning, they broke into a pitch perfect cover of Bohemian Rhapsody, by Queen. It was absolutely amazing. And even more wonderful was the scene when I turned around to watch the crowd's response.
After Panic! at the Disco left, it was time to watch the reason Marcus and I came: Weezer took the stage.
They were, unsurprisingly, incredible. As good as Panic! at the Disco is, Weezer has been around for about a decade longer, and it shows: their sound is so tight and polished, you can tell these are musicians who've played together for a long time. Marcus, Alex and I sang along to the songs -- Marcus and I knew a couple of them, but Alex surprised herself by how familiar she was with the lyrics of so much of their music. And as for what the rest of the crowd thought of the show, needless to say, they ate it up.
As we walked out after the concert, I turned to Alex with a smile. "So, best night ever?"
"Absolutely," she sighed deeply. "They were both so fabulous. It was so cool watching them all play. And the tour bus was amazing. And Miss Jillian was awesome. And I totally want to live that life. And Mom?"
"Brendon Urie smiled at me."
Soundtrack: Clearly, there have to be two songs today. The first, Victorious, by Panic! at the Disco, led by the smiling Brendon Urie:
and then the second, Beverly Hills, my favourite song by Weezer.