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The Return of Regular Live Music Isn't Close, But It's Getting Closer

Over the past year, I've learned to live with the fact I'll never hear "Won't Get Fooled Again" live.
Over the past year, I've learned to live with the fact I'll never hear "Won't Get Fooled Again" live.
Photo by Eric Sauseda
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The Who was not supposed to be my final concert of 2019. As the lights came up in the Toyota Center, I knew I’d be back in a few weeks for Tool. Buzzfest was also in the future, as was Cher, which promised to be a hoot in and a half. Since I was a teen I’ve always tried to keep my concert calendar full, and late 2019/early 2020 was no exception.

This is to say that at the time The Who show being called off early due to Roger Daltrey having allergy issues seemed more like a random quirk of luck rather than an on the nose metaphor for my life. People get sick, plans change, and you adapt the best you can. I wrote my review of the weird evening, and then it was on to the next.

Until it wasn’t.

I woke up with a feeding tube in my mouth. I knew what it was because the last thing I remembered before the doctors put me in a medically-induced coma was being told they wanted to put a feeding tube in me. What I didn’t know - but what I’d quickly learn - was how radically my life had changed in the time between me going out and me waking up.

What they don’t tell you about dialysis, but what you quickly learn, is that as soon as you start your life is dictated by your relationship with the machines that keep you alive. For me, that means spending nine hours every night on a machine that cycles fluids in and out of my body to make up for my kidneys going bad. I’m not ashamed to admit that one of the first things I thought, once I did the math, once I found out about how it worked was “I guess that means no more concerts during the week.”

People get sick, plans change, and you adapt the best you can.

I spent most of January and February of 2020 sitting at home, watching television, and getting used to wearing masks on a regular basis. With dialysis, you want to minimize the risk of infection, so you have to wear a mask while you’re preparing for treatment. I also spent time mentally trying to adjust to my new reality and all that came with and - in the case of concerts - without it.

The Who, I decided, would not have been the worst final concert to go out on. It was memorable, with a blistering performance of “Eminence Front” and good company in my seat neighbors the Sendejas. But it’s mid-show interruption mirrored my own a little too much for comfort, and I was hoping that down the line, once my body had regrouped more, I’d be able to jump back into the concert life, if on a less enthusiastic basis.

Of course, there weren’t a ton of concerts after February 2020 for me to attend even if I had the strength. First South by Southwest was canceled. Then the Rodeo. Then eventually most everything. While people held on hope that regular touring shows would return before the end of the year, that hope diminished as weeks stretched into months of a global pandemic.

People get sick, plans change, and you adapt the best you can.

As I type this, the first dose of the Moderna vaccine is bouncing around in my body, and I am allowing myself to think, albeit in a very small way, that a third of a Who show might not be the final concert I ever attend. The future isn’t close, but for the first time in a long time, it feels closer. I hope to join all of you in the dark again.

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