In early June, I had the ability to see the Rolling Stones in Chicago when they opened their most recent American tour “No Filter.” Now, for those who don’t know, I’m a huge fan of the Stone’s music, however since I’m only twenty-one years old, I wasn’t exactly around to hear them break big, or even to hear them in their “prime,” which would entice some elitists to call me a fake fan. Nonetheless, I’ve always believed that music was one of the few things that can be enjoyed by individuals across many generations, which is why I did not feel like a “poser” while at this concert. In fact, the first thing I noticed when we walked into the concert was the great variety of types of people all at the concert. Often, when I go to a concert, the audience often contains the same “genre” of a person; but to my great surprise, this was not the case here.
Yes, there were people my age there, both guys desperate to fit in in whatever rock-related clothes they could find, and girls dressing up as a “sexy thirst trap rock groupie”; but there were also elementary school age kids attending the concert with their parents and grandparents, and did not know or care they were attending a concert of one of the “greats.” There were also many middle-aged moms there, discussing their children’s private school dues amongst themselves, while they adjusted their low-cut shirts to properly show off their rocker-chick boob tattoos, reminders of a time where there were no regrets, only rock-n-roll.
The majority of the audience, however, it was filled with people who were the same age as the band, getting into their mid-70s by now. Even this group of older individuals had a divide in it, a member from one side of this divide stood behind me while I was in line for a cocktail. He was dressed up in a dapper blue-striped suit, with fine leather shoes and a smart-looking, mostly gray head of hair. This sharply dressed older gentleman was in direct contrast with another concert-goer I had a conversation with. This man did not have fine leather shoes, but instead a comfortable pair of Birkenstocks, along with a pair of jean shorts and a tie-dye Grateful Dead tee shirt. He mentioned to me that he spent his youth following his favorite bands on tour, making just enough to buy food, gas, and drugs by selling tie-dye shirts outside of the venue.
These two men were the perfect examples to show the divide of the older fanbase. I never saw many conversations between members of the two groups; those who gave up trying to live the rockstar dream and got well-paying office jobs wanted nothing to do with those gray-haired post-hippies who were a few acid trips past sane, according to normal society. All of this unspoken animosity disappeared in seconds though, as soon as the opening chords of Jumpin’ Jack Flash rang out from the speakers. When the band took the stage, it was a spiritual moment for everyone in the crowd. All eyes were on Mick, who still has a hell of a strut despite his recent hip surgeries and heart valve replacements. Even though the main four of the band have a combined age of over 300 years old, they sounded just as good as they do on their albums. What impressed me was that even when the band played some of their more obscure songs, it did not stop the audience from enjoying the songs, even though they couldn’t sing them word for word.
Leaving the show got me thinking, The Stones are truly one of the greatest bands of their generation, so which artists and bands from our generation will stand the test of time? We certainly live in a much different time than when the Stones first started, with the age of the internet and streaming services giving us access not only to all recorded music that has ever existed but genre boundaries are being broken as artists collaborate more and more with unconventional musical techniques. All in all, The Stones started off as a group of young Brits wanting to show off how cool of a genre the blues can be, and ended up becoming one of the greatest rock bands of all time. We can only imagine which musicians we will end up seeing when we’re all geriatric (if we make it that far anyway,).