A good friend of mine, John, is way into music. He plays in a band—a few bands, actually. He DJs and has the waist-high wall of vinyl-crammed milk crates that goes along with the lifestyle. He also loves going to go see bands. I’m not as into going out and seeing shows as I used to be, but I like hanging out with John a lot, and I enjoy his band, The Tempermental’s music, even though it’s pretty hardcore punk, which I usually find as noisy and shitty as most people do. Even though I have pretty non-mainstream musical tastes, I need music to have something melodic going on for me to enjoy it. Call me crazy. The Tempermentals have a little melody mixed in with the madness, so I dig it. Going to see The Tempermentals regularly has also re-sparked my interest in checking out other shows a bit (I used to go to see shows constantly in my 20s), so when John invited me to take an extra ticket he had to see punk(ish) rock old timers, Bad Religion, I accepted, even though I’ve never even come close to buying one of their albums.
As I expected, they put on a fine show. It was the last show of their 30th anniversary show, and that experience manifests itself in the form of polish as opposed to sleep walking through a show. The best way to describe them is “total pros.” Their bald singer, (who looked like Bruce Willis, circa ’98 from where we were watching the show), Greg Gaffin’s distinct rapid fire, yet oddly melodic tones are 100% intelligible and easy to listen to, which I think has a lot to do with their mainstream appeal.
As a grown up, I’ve come to admire bands like Bad Religion. Let’s face it, despite their noisy first years and their once edgy, but now relatively innocuous no religion logo, Bad Religion hasn’t been much more than a gateway band in the punk genre for a long time. They were the first punk band your fucked up, out of work, tattooed, 89 lb cousin loved when she was 12, before she got serious about music and started listening to and emulating the rabid punk bands that would steer her toward making poor decisions.
Bad Religion staying true to what they are and perfectly playing their role in punk is pretty cool in my book, and is, beyond their obvious musical talent, a key to their longevity (I think it’s also why the guys don’t give off the “pathetic aging rockers” vibe on stage). We’ve seen acts like MC Hammer, Vanilla Ice and other highly digestible, mainstream artists that float around the periphery of traditionally hardcore genres get sick of being considered pussies and decide that they’re going to show everyone just how fucking hardcore they are. The results are always laughable. As far as I know, Bad Religion has never started doing pissy interviews and put out a, “Fuck you, haters. We’re totally hardcore!” album.
So what do my probably inaccurate thoughts on Bad Religion have to do with mountain biking? Not a goddamn thing, but I got really stoned at the show and I had a few thoughts about the show that I wanted to put down. Although there is one tie-in.
While the tragically fucking horrible opening act was playing, John and I went up to the balcony area of the Regency Ballroom. Looking down on the poor bastards whose ears were being clumsily finger banged by Off With Their Scrotum, or whatever the band was called, I noticed a mosh pit. Mosh pits always look kinda funny from above, almost like an invisible tornado has touched down in the crowd. Man, I used to love me some moshing. It was a must back in the day and always a topic of conversation after a concert. But I’m happy to say, those days are behind me. It’s always a satisfying moment for me when I see younger people doing something that I used to do and I think, “That just looks fucking miserable….and painful.” Why satisfying and not sad and depressing? Sad is what it would be if I still felt I belonged in a mosh pit at 37. Moshing is one of those nutty things you do when you’re young and then outgrow.
Mountain biking, however, is something nutty that holds up, which is why I love it so. It has elements of moshing and getting crazy at a concert: There’s adrenalin. You can get hurt. It’s fun to do with friends and talk about after the fact. But it doesn’t hold that same potential for someone saying, “Did you see that fucking old dude? What the fuck?” I used to say stuff like that in my teens and early 20s. I don’t want it said about me. And if I were still in the pit, I’d totally deserve it.
But with mountain biking, I don’t have fears of ever deserving the stinging shit talking of a snot nosed kid. Even though it’s the younger guys who kick the most ass at the sport (like any sport), no one who mountain bikes into and past middle age has the appearance of pathetically clinging to some piece of their youth. That’s a good activity to get involved in. On the contrary, I feel much more pathetic when I don’t mountain bike.