Judging by how fondly I speak of the night, you may have pictured me at the concert in a cool goth outfit, feeling myself in the crowd, lighter in the air, having fun alone etc etc. Well, sure, some of the concert went down like that, but, I ended up crying alone at the Depeche Mode concert out of sadness before I found the joy.
Now, people probably think of Depeche Mode as a bit emo, because of lyrics like “pleasures remain/so does the pain” and *“things get damaged, things get broken, I thought we’d manage but words left unspoken” and also this:
*I distinctly remember being in an Aunt Anne’s pretzel’s at the Mall and hearing this song on the radio. I started mindlessly singing along to it (AS I LIKE TO DO) and the friend I was with made SO much fun of me and did a spot-on impression of me starring off into the distance, mumbling “things get damaged…”
But for me and other fans, they’re also… fun and cute!
Given the polarity of the band, it only makes sense that I myself started going through what I now see as a slight mental breakdown in the days leading up to and after the concert, culminating in a crying fest during.
Coming off the high of a couple of fun projects, I found myself in a very negative, paranoid place. I’d developed some sort of displaced anxiety or depression, which caused me to start questioning myself in ways I usually never did. Things I normally felt confidant about doing, like going to concerts alone, I suddenly felt lots of shame and hesitation towards. Things I normally wouldn’t think twice about saying, I suddenly worried would offend or be taken the wrong way. I started acting shy in situations where I’d normally be outgoing, and timid when I’d normally take action. I was acting strange and hating myself for it, which continued on into the day of the show.
For no good reason, I’d started feeling nervous about something at work, a trivial thing that’s usually not a big deal. So I worked up enough courage to confidently handle the situation, only to realize I had made a small mistake. I got politely corrected for it and it was no big deal (I get corrected all the time and can usually brush it off), but this time I was so embarrassed. I had miscalculated, made a small error, and felt so down on myself about it. I walked out of the office a bit shaken, but ultimately still looking forward to my Depeche concert.
So I changed into my concert outfit (below) and walked out the door, headphones in, ready to take a brisk walk before the show.
I blasted some Depeche Mode in my earbuds and went to go cheer myself up in one of my favorite ways: Sephora.
Bopping my head to the music, I painted on a dark lip to go with my goth outfit, then headed off to the hair section to try and liven up my flat hair, which unfortunately had turned thin and listless from stress in the recent months.
Standing in between me and the Living Proof section (best dry shampoo!) was an employee and customer, chatting. I maneuvered around them and picked up a spray different than what I normally go for: Dry Bar’s Triple Sec (and yeah, I will be dragging this product!!!). The spray came out all chalky and white and throughout the night ended up getting on my hands and then my black jeans, so I looked like a freaking IDIOT. In an attempt to find a third product with more texture to make up for this, I walked along the Sephora aisle to another hair product section.
Not seeing a tester, I popped the cap off one of the texturizers and went to spray–
“EXCUSE ME DO YOU NEED A TESTER? THE TESTERS ARE ALL MARKED WITH STICKERS” said the employee who had previously been enraptured in conversation with a customer like myself.
Of course I know testers are marked with stickers. That’s actually why I reached for this one– because ya’ll hadn’t marked a tester in this section!!!!
I profusely apologized, not being able to gather the words I was looking for which were “Hey sorry I wasn’t thinking at all– I’m going to a Depeche Mode concert alone later and am stressed about it.”
She patronizingly tells me “yeah, it’s okay” and I lose it. I slam the texturizer back on the counter, and, again, not finding the words I’m really looking for (which are “give me a goddamn break I made a mistake and said I was sorry– it’s not liquid gold it’s texturizer”) I said
“I’M REALLY SORRY!!!!” pointedly and stomped out of the store (literally stomped— I just tried to make my feet as loud as possible).
As I walked out onto the busy street, I started crying. Headphones still in, goth Depeche Mode blaring, and now wearing black lipstick to accompany my extremely goth outfit. I literally looked like a sad goth teen (which, in essence, I really am).
When I realized how silly I looked, I tried to stop crying and put on a sort of half-smirk instead, which would hopefully tell people “Yeah, I look really goth, but I’m actually really nice!”
I don’t know why I cared about what the people of Soho thought of me at that moment but… actually yeah I know why I cared… I care what everyone thinks about me. I was in a goth outfit because I wanted to fit in at the Depeche Mode concert, and I was in a fake smile because I wanted to fit in in Soho.
I fast-walked to Dig Inn to get a sad dinner with my sister, where I ate macaroni and cheese and told her how everyone was “on my case” today.
“Your lipstick is coming off and it looks weird,” is all I remember her saying, as the oil from the food swiped off my gothness.
To minimize the amount of time I’d have to spend at Madison Square Garden alone, I tried my hardest to arrive a little late, so I could skip the opener and sit in my seat right as Depeche begins. Unfortunately, I am physically incapable of being late. That ticket said 7:30 so I got there at 7:29.
I navigated to my section in the arena (up high on a balcony off to audience left) and got in line for the first alcohol vendor I could find and bought a beer. For some reason, when I saw those Bud Light and Stella Artois taps, I assumed those were the only two alcoholic beverages the entire arena served. I felt stupid later when I walked through the 8,000 other alcohol vendors in Madison Square Garden that sold plenty of other drinks that I would’ve rather had. Embarrassing moment #3.
I also bought a water, because my anxiety makes me reach for it a lot, but I had to realize the hard way that MSG puts their waters on ice for you. I did a literal spit-take, but not in a cute way: I just kinda let the water fall out of my mouth and into a trashcan, so it actually probably looked more like I was throwing up now that I’m thinking about it. Embarrassing moment #4.
I finally got to my seat and felt cozy listening to the opening band, even though I was a little preoccupied with the powder from my hair getting on my hands and then my black jeans. I surveyed my surroundings and confirmed the suspicion I had all along: I was not going to be meeting my husband tonight.
Still thinking I was a concert timing expert, when the lights and pre-recorded music shifted around 8:45, I assumed I had fifteen minutes to go pee before Depeche Mode took the stage.
I got up to pee right as Martin Gore walked out, and missed Depeche Mode’s triumphant opening. And thanks to my empathic nature, I could physically feel my section’s anger when I had to shuffle past them to and from the pisser while they tried to take in the moment.
When I returned, I was puzzled to find that everyone around me was still sitting in their seats like at church. I mean, DEPECHE MODE is on stage at MADISON SQUARE GARDEN. Why are we all not freaking out!?
I played it cool like the rest, just trying to fit in as per usual, and sat down. I hoped whole “sitting” thing would be temporary, because I was really looking forward to letting loose (I mean— I bought a BEER! HELLO!) Instead, I allowed myself to get pissed off about the whole thing by thinking two negative thoughts:
- I’ve been sitting ALL DAY at my desk job. This is the place where I’d like to STAND, please.
- Taylor Swift always stands and dances at concerts, even when everyone else is sitting and trying to act cool.
Inspired by a problematic (BUT CUTE AND FUN!) popstar, I POPPED out of my seat like a little gopher the second the band played a song I semi-liked. It was pretty deep into the set, so I figured I had waited patiently long enough. I also naively assumed that everyone would stand at the same time as me.
Well, wrong again. I had misjudged the moment and it was awkward and I didn’t feel cute like Taylor Swift. I quickly realized it wasn’t a song I could dance to that much, and also: no one else had stood up.
So I was faced with a decision: I could awkwardly sit down within seconds of having stood up (admitting defeat), or awkwardly power through and try to convince people I had meant to do this and felt completely cool about it. Both felt horrible, but I chose the latter.
Just as I had made the decision to confidently soldier on and stand and dance when no one else was (like a carefree young lady who is not an empath and cannot feel the stress of those around her) I got a tap on the shoulder. The woman behind me told me I was blocking her view.
Too loud for me to speak, I weakly fought back by darting my eyes around to fellow concert goers (no help there), then miming “really!?”
She shrugged. And with that shrug, I sat down and proceeded to sob as discreetly as possible.
So there I was, crying big crocodile tears —heaving and convulsing— alone at a the Depeche Mode concert. I let the weight of all my prior anxiety and loneliness fall on me in one swoop. In fact, I welcomed it. Why cry a little when you can cry a lot? I was alone, I already looked incredibly pathetic, I might as well make a meal out of it.
I started remembering how horrible it felt to had done something “wrong” at Sephora, how embarrassing it was to have been slightly wrong at work, and how stupid I must’ve looked on the streets of Soho. I thought about how pathetic it was that I was at the concert alone, how stupid I must’ve looked being scolded by this lady, and how sad it was that I didn’t have anyone “on my side” there because I had come alone.
I cried about happy things too, and how stupid it was that I wasn’t more happy about them: how an old coworker wished me well before the concert, how my Mom had checked up on me via text, how my friends had sent me encouraging texts throughout the week.
I begged myself to pull through, to be strong and not let some old lady make me cry. I tried to, as I often do, put this moment into perspective: I’m a young, beautiful (sorry, I’m gonna say it!!!) and lucky person seeing her favorite band, and I have a cute apartment I can pay for, a job that I like, and tons of loving friends and family. Of course, out of all of those blessings I counted, the one that really helped me rise through was that I was at a Depeche Mode concert.
I mean, Dave Gahan was HUMPING his mic stand and it was AMAZING!
I had managed to work my sobbing down to a few light heaves every few seconds when out of nowhere, the opening chords to a huge hit from the good old days crept in to the room.
“THIS IS MY TIME” I thought.
And well, the rest of the arena must’ve thought the same because as the song grew, the crowd started to stand, including the people around me. Including the people in front of me. And after much trepidation, still scared of some stranger behind me, I myself stood as well.
Oh, and you know I turned around and winked at the lady behind me 😉
Depeche Mode powered through their set with hit after hit. The audience didn’t sit once, and I fully stopped crying. Of course, my emotional rollercoaster was far from over:
The arrangement of the song was much different than the album version, but I could tell immediately what it was. And like clockwork, I started having a panic attack, because, as it turns out, anxiety isn’t always about things you are afraid of, it’s sometimes about things you love so much that it scares you.
But they played on and I GOT MY LIFE. I moved my body to every shift in the music, every lyric, and I sang along as well. I sang loud and proud and danced like no one was watching, like I had wanted to do all along! And it felt good to be alone: the moment was personal and I liked enjoying it without anyone else influence. It’s the entire reason I came to the show.
And I found catharsis reflecting on the night later, thinking about how glad I was to go to the show and how lucky I am to have seen so many of my favorite artists live. I may not have a boyfriend to drag with me to places like this, but I do have Dave Gahan, and he’s a really great kisser according to a very sexy dream I had about him the other night.