FAREWELL AND GOODNIGHT, ROSELAND BALLROOM
“Standing in line to
See the show tonight
And there’s a light on
Waiting on a line that wrapped around two or sometimes three blocks – often times – getting soaked by a cold and misty rain. Approaching the marquee, and having chills give way to adrenaline pumping. Getting patted down by security, cracking jokes about it with friends, and anticipating the merch “table” directly to the left. Entering the double doors, getting tickets ripped, and setting sights on the bar to the right, and the one dead ahead.
Staring at the stage, questioning whether to get right up from right away or take a detour downstairs to the mens’ room, which almost always, had women in it. Walking out of the men’s room, staring at said hot girls exiting mens’ room, dodging the coat check because we weren’t wearing any, and purchasing tiny band buttons sold at a nearby table. Going back upstairs, purchasing a tour shirt, wrapping it around my waist, and heading upfront into the pit where I’d lose my new tee in a sea of darkness and sweat.
The memories I have of Roseland Ballroom are so vivid and fluid I could keep going on writing like this, but the iconic NYC venue means so much more to me than a series of rambling visions dancing in my head. Roseland closed last night (Lady Gaga sent it out with a week-long string of shows), and I will forever mourn its passing. The venue was essentially the soundtrack to my college life, and every time I walk by it – whether it becomes a residential spot or a McDonalds or whatever – I will immediately go into my heart space. As a college freshman, my best friend Steve and I really got into alt-rock music. We had already been Nirvana and Pearl Jam devotees but our tastes soon extended to Weezer, Smashing Pumpkins, Nine Inch Nails, Liz Phair, and countless other 1990s staples. Because of this, the two of us would monthly – sometimes weekly – attend shows throughout the city. But, we always came back to Roseland. While we gravitated to seeing artists we loved, we’d sometimes just go to a Roseland show to just be back at the Roseland. Case in point: we went to see the Mighty Mighty Bosstones just so we could see Ben Carr dance a little. The two of us moshed there, rocked there, sweated profusely there, got denied beer there, hit on girls there, and got turned down there on such a regular basis, it felt like an extension of our college experience. Music 101 perhaps.
If I could compile a greatest hits that Steve and I saw there it’d include Weezer’s tour in support of their iconic debut album, Hole headlining hot off of Live Through This, and Garbage crushing it after dropping one of my favorite albums ever – Garbage 2.0. I can also say a Z100 – back when it was grunge – holiday show that featured The Cranberries, Adam Ant, and Human League was also memorable if for no other reason: Steve tried to get people mushing during “Don’t You Want Me Baby?” It didn’t happen, but was a valiant effort.
Roseland love continued beyond our college years. I remember taking my then-girlfriend (now wife) to see everyone from Liz Phair to Garbage there, and catching artists like Linkin Park, No Doubt, and N.E.R.D. there as well. Among my last experiences at Roseland was seeing Weezer again, and retracing the steps of the past – literally. I also got to see some kid act out the line “the foreman has injured his hand” from that band’s “My Name is Jonas” but that’s besides the point. (It was quite a sight to see though.)
My last trip to Roseland closed this chapter in my life perfectly. I interviewed Imagine Dragons backstage, and watched their set from the VIP section that Steve and I had only dreamed of being in back in the day. It was a fitting final chapter. I remember thinking of Steve that night. I remember thinking of the many nights in college and after rocking at what I always felt was the best place to see a show in New York. Roseland was so intimate without a bad seat (or standing spot) in the house and the acoustics kicked my ears’ ass. So goodbye Roseland, and thank you. Thank you for being such a huge part of my life, my relationships, and my coming of age. Thank you for making me realize early on that music changes lives, and can shape a life.
This month marks the tenth anniversary of my friend Steve’s death. Memories of Roseland nights, among the bottomless collections of other recollections flooding my brain for the last decade, will keep him alive. Music is timeless. Memories are timeless. Rock on Roseland.
About A-Sides Music
Jon Chattman’s “A-Sides Music” series was established in August 2011 and usually features artists (established or not) from all genres performing a track, and discussing what it means to them. This informal series focuses on the artist making art in a low-threatening, extremely informal (sometimes humorous) way. No bells, no whistles — just the music performed in a random, low-key setting followed by an unrehearsed chat. In an industry where everything often gets overblown and over manufactured, I’m hoping this is refreshing. Artists have included: fun, Pharrell Williams, American Authors, Imagine Dragons Jake Miller, Gary Clark Jr., Rob Zombie, Sleigh Bells, Danger Mouse, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, San Fermin, and more!