Dance like no one’s watching

By Jeff Petersen, The Observer March 22, 2013 01:13 pm

The first clue should have been the earplugs available at the first-aid station as we walked in the door for a concert at the McDonald Theater in Eugene.

The second clue should have been the band’s most popular album: “Death by Stereo.” 

My favorite band, Umphrey’s McGee, a progressive improvisation, or improg band from Chicago, was scheduled to play. Expect the unexpected with Umphrey’s: funk, jazz, metal and everything in between.

If you’re like me, old as Eagle Cap granite, it gets harder and harder to find new experiences. Going to a rave was new. And way, way different.

We asked at the souvenir station if we were the oldest fans to show up so far.

“No,” the young man said. “Someone even older than you just went up the stairs to the balcony.”

The first hour warmup band was Bright Light Social Hour from the live music capital of the world, Austin, Texas.

Few people were in attendance. I began to worry that my favorite band would attract an attendance rivaling a fifth-grade softball game.

Then 9 p.m. rolled around. Suddenly, 750 of my newest, closest most personal friends appeared, ready to rave. 

Umphrey’s McGee started playing, and I was blown away. It was like being strapped to the wing of a jet plane at takeoff.

The light show flashed in time to the music.  The band utilizes cutting-edge technology to turn night into day, with the lights most often on the audience as it moves to the music.

I had warned my bride, the Wonder Woman, that the band members don’t wear watches and lose track of time.

After most concerts would be over, an hour and a half, Umphrey’s McGee was ready for its first break.

For the second half, we moved down to the main floor of the theater where all the seats had been removed. The sloping dance floor provided great visibility for everyone — unless you happened to be behind a guy with an afro.

Most of the dancers swayed to the music. A few, however, seemed to be trying out for a remake of the Seinfeld “The Little Kicks” episode that featured Elaine’s bad dancing. George describes the dance as “a full body dry heave set to music.”

The bigger point is, you’re never too old to rave. And don’t worry about dancing, or swaying, abilities. At a rave, you’ll fit right in, no matter if you are as old as granite.