For Christmas, my incredibly thoughtful wife bought us tickets to a concert at the Masquerade in Atlanta. The band was SALES, one of my very favorites. The concert wasn’t until March, so you would think we would have had plenty of time to craft a fun and romantic night away for ourselves. The experience, however, would prove to be a hellish series of embarrassing missteps. It started with the drive up, which took us four hours to travel approximately 85 miles. I guess it could’ve been worse.
A couple of years ago, we stayed at the Hotel Indigo across from the Fox Theater for a wedding. We had a great time and felt “super baller”, so we made a reservation there. Unfortunately, we didn’t realize there are actually three Hotel Indigos in the greater Atlanta area, and our reservation was for the one that’s technically in Smyrna. We then discovered they are privately owned, so we couldn’t have the room transferred. Additionally, we had pre-paid for the room which prevented us from simply canceling our reservation and doing a last-minute switcheroo. Frustrated, we checked in and decided to mull over our options with a drink at the hotel bar/restaurant.
For a brief moment, we considered just abandoning the concert and having drinks at the hotel. Most importantly, we had to be back in Macon before 10 AM to pick up our children the next day. Knowing the potential for traffic and full well we’ve gotten accustomed to our middle-aged bedtimes, staying up too late became even less appealing. We also had a 30-minute Uber ride to the concert to think about. At the bar, the only other people seated were a group of college students. We listened to them discuss DMT at a curiously loud volume while going back and forth a bit about what to do. About then, a wedding party showed up in the lobby. To the tune of raucous shot encouraging chants, we decided to schedule our Uber to the venue.
As we pulled up and hopped out of the car, I finally remembered someone saying that the Masquerade wasn’t where it used to be. It had been nearly twenty years since I had been there, and I obviously haven’t even tried keeping track. We couldn’t find any signage and our phones kept giving us conflicting directions, so we walked a couple of blocks until we found a man in a bright orange vest and decided to ask him. He turned out just to be a homeless man in a bright orange vest. But he was kind and brimming with excitement at the chance to help us out. After briefly arguing with a random passerby, he explained some of his struggles while leading through some uncomfortably quiet and dark places, eventually taking us right back to where our Uber driver had dropped us off. Come to find out, the new Masquerade location is in Underground Atlanta, so we couldn’t see it from the street level. We finally made it, but things weren’t really about to get any better…
We entered the “Heaven” stage, but it felt like a location from the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. Not the sewer, but rather the warehouse where the Foot Clan prepared their nefarious machinations. While searching for the bathroom, I expected to turn a corner and find a group of runaway kids being taught lazy karate and how to pickpocket. In retrospect, that would have been pretty cool. But there was no Foot Clan, only millennial hipsters who seemed far too eager to roll their eyes at us. I felt old. The band was SALES, and they have been one of my favorite bands since discovering them on the Vine app– back when that was still a thing. I had no idea their fanbase was so much younger than me, but what should I care? I can feel out of place for a couple of hours if it means enjoying some of my favorite songs! Well, we bought the tickets before any opening acts were announced and discovered there were two of them. Even late to the show, we were still around two hours from seeing SALES.
Now, I’d nearly kicked the habit of smoking, but the longer we waited (and the more I drank) the more my desire for a cigarette grew. Apparently, trying to bum a cigarette at a concert in Atlanta is not a good look. As I walked away from the third person to turn me down I loudly exclaimed, “Say what you will about Macon, but if you asked for a smoke outside the Capitol Theatre, you’d probably end up making new friends!” My wife shot an elbow into my ribs. By then, SALES had finally taken the stage. My smoke quest should’ve ended there, however, addiction sucks. I asked a bartender if anywhere nearby sold them. She said no, but the woman bartending in the Star Wars shirt would probably give me one of her’s in exchange for a fat tip. Feeling depraved, I passed– but eventually, I found her and made my sales pitch. She interrupted me to explain that she didn’t smoke as her mother had died of lung cancer. It totally felt like a set-up, and I felt like an ass.
The music was fantastic, but we had to drive back to Macon at the crack of dawn– and it was well past our bedtime. After only a handful of songs, we summoned an Uber and returned to our hotel… 30 minutes away. It was a pleasant ride, and the story might as well end here. We ended up meeting some guy at the hotel who claimed he toured with John Mayer, but I really don’t feel like giving that loudmouth anymore of my precious word count. We made it home on time, and normalcy was restored to our lives, and it will probably be another 10 years before we try to do a concert in Atlanta.
I’m definitely done smoking cigarettes.