“It’s like walking into an episode of ‘My So-Called Life,’” I said to Doireann as we made our way into the Olympia to see Foals last week. While I wasn’t the only one in my thirties there, the majority of the crowd did have school the next day. I knew this from a) looking at them and b) Doireann overheard them talking about how they had school the next day. Honestly, with all the youth and the plaid, I expected to see Jordan Catalano at any moment—hanging out with his loser friends while leaning against something, of course—and for my heart to go all a flutter. But it’s not actually 1995, specifically, my 1995, anymore, even if fashion tries to tell me otherwise. I swear, with every spaghetti strap, shirt tied around the waist, and oxblood Doc Marten I see, I age just that little bit more and turn into the type of person that says things like “ha! I remember wearing that the first time it was in” and “we used to have that in our day!” This is scary on two fronts: first, since I can remember grunge so well, it’s led me to believe that it wasn’t that long ago even though it was, in fact, twenty years ago and second, I don’t really feel all that differently now. I’m certain that if I were to see Jordan Catalano (the character, not Jared Leto, the actor, I should point out) I would still go weak in the knees.
Speaking of going weak in the knees, we’d gotten standing tickets which is something I hadn’t done since approximately 1998. I had been looking forward to the atmosphere of it but I was also very nervous about getting jostled by the young people. When I did get jostled, this is what the young people said: “Hey! Sorry about tha!” So polite. And organised! Unlike the mosh pits of my youth, which were all chaos and destruction, these kids would open up a circle and then wait for the climax of the music to let themselves and their hormones loose. What’s more, they kept all of this loosening within the confines of the circle. It was fun and good-natured, which was a relief, as my memories of going to concerts back when I was in school are overshadowed by the trauma of being at that Smashing Pumpkins concert where a girl died. From what I can tell and what I’ve seen—whole rows of surly-looking security guards blocking my view—security is a lot tighter now, to the point of almost being oppressive. I just hope it prevents tragedy.
Speaking of Smashing Pumpkins, I saw an interview last year where the journalist asked Foals if they were fans of Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness (an album I never could listen to again), and Yannis (yes, we’re on first name terms) responded with a “yeah, sure, I mean they’d be a bit before our time. . .”
In the end, neither the age of the crowd nor that of the band mattered as everyone—the band, the crowd, myself—were too busy giving it loads. The performance was great, the temperature hot and electric. I had been a bit on the fence about Foals before. They sort of remind me of New Order in so far as some songs are brilliant and then there are other songs with lyrics so woeful, my teeth are set on edge. So I liked them but didn’t love them and was more interested in seeing what they do about three albums from now. Or, in other words, when they’re older. Still, I whiled away hours listening to their Glastonbury set last summer and a few chords into the prelude, I found myself getting emotional. Not quite as emotional as the hyperventilating teenagers we’d seen at Longitude but close. The music, slightly dark and heavy but mostly very raucous, was cathartic and by the end of the show, my vocal chords stretched and raw, my legs shaky, I was emotionally spent. It was about then that Yannis announced they were going to DJ at Twisted Melon. This wasn’t the name of the club. What he meant to say was Twisted Pepper. Of course, the Happy Mondays reference made me laugh but it went straight over the heads of the crowd. They just thought he’d gotten the name of the club wrong.
Then on Friday, I did a very age-appropriate thing and drove down to a girls’ weekend away at a five star adult-only destination spa hotel (!) I was a bit confused by the use of the word “destination” as isn’t every place you travel to some sort of destination? I soon learned that what they meant was that this place was the destination to end all destinations, the final destination, the one that’s called heaven. It took a full twenty-four hours for me to realise and accept this, however, because when I first arrived, I couldn’t handle the oozing soothingness of the place. It was as if the word “relax” was in flashing capital neon pink letters everywhere. It was also whispered, persistently, by every staff member I encountered. The pressure was just too much.
The next morning, as we’d been “encouraged,” we went to breakfast in our white bathrobes, which was a thrill. The fact that everyone was in identical bathrobes gave it a levelling, hospital vibe except it was more like a very luxurious hospital that had a choice of at least three courses for breakfast alone. We made our way, slowly, to the spa. The reception area was a rotunda of light, an oasis, accessible only by winding ramp, not stairs. Once we got to the spa itself, it occurred to me that this is it, there is nothing for us to do except go in and out of saunas and steam rooms all day. Now, I’d been in saunas and steam rooms before but I’d never been in a sauna that is set in beautiful woodlands where once you’re finished being really hot, you pull a chain and a bucket of ice water pours over you, or a steam room that is scented with eucalyptus and menthol, or a hydrotherapy pool with jets so powerful that even my shoulders, which are usually somewhere around my ears, had to submit themselves back to a more natural position. All that was left then was to relax on one of the loungers that made you feel like you were lying directly under trees and sky. And then it was time for a massage!
By the second day, the following things did not exist: reality, problems of any kind, money, the weather. We had no need for silly, worldly things like clothes or make up or handbags or phones.
It was such a therapeutic benefit to me that when I got home, we signed up to the gym on our doorstep that has such things as saunas and steam rooms and “Dublin’s only scented rain forest showers!” I can’t believe we used to make excuses like “it costs too much” now.
Also, all of the alternating between Swedish saunas and ice fountains has deepened my desire to go to a really snowy Scandinavian country. I want snow, Northern Lights, volcanic hot springs, expensive everything! Before I went to the five star destination spa hotel, I’d always thought that the house in Dr Zhivago, the one where they’re out in the middle of nowhere and it’s basically ice, was heaven. Well now I want the house (minus the Russian Revolution backdrop) and the spa. Plus Julie Christie’s outfit and hair because they are perfection.