Summer in Chicagoland has proven fruitful thus far. I learned to walk around with my mouth closed with the unpredictability of cicada flight patterns coincidentally at the same time, for instance. I’ve always taken full advantage of the great live music. Last weekend I went to the Taste of Randolph, one of the million neighborhood festivals in and around the city, where I got to see New York’s The Walkmen.

One of my favorite bands, The Walkmen played a great set filled with old and very new material; crowd favorite currently untitled, referred to as “Red Moon,” showed a lot of promise for their next record.

The highlight of the afternoon wasn’t any performance on stage but the drunk dude next to my friend, RJ, and I. Designer jeans and pointed toe leather boots complemented his dirty, sleeveless University of Michigan T-shirt perfectly. The look was brought together by his 10 year post-collegiate beer belly and Lance Armstrong sunglasses. Overall he had an “It’s not about the bike/I miss my frat,” vibe going on.

“Man bra, I’m getting up with you guys,” he slurred as he pushed up to the guard rail where we stood. “You guys, these guys are going to rock.”

Suddenly the place started to smell like Kam’s on a Thursday night and I got caught up in the most ridiculous music-related conversation I’ve had in a long while.

Without any sort of logical transition, he started talking about how much Pearl Jam embodied Rock ‘n Roll (fist in the air). Tolerating this 30-something’s rant I brought up how I was seven when their first big single came out and hoped the conversation would fizzle from there.

When I think of the ’90s, I like to think of Pavement and Modest Mouse, not who I consider was the gateway for Puddle of Mudd and Co. to destroy radio. Maybe it’s the jean shorts and disgusting hair but I could never get totally into grunge. It might also be because old sunburned dead beats like to bust out lighters when they hear “Jeremy.”

Unsatisfied with his failed attempt to connect with youth, he moved on to Rhymefest (?!) and The Roots and then came to my two least favorite bands in the world; Red Hot Chili Peppers and Tool.

Moments before this all happened, RJ and I talked about how I only seem to have music conversations with people that really like Tool and how frustrating it is.

They wear the “Tool” shirt, they don’t shower, they have weird soul patches. As much as I love totally inaccessible time signatures and deadly amounts of pretension, Tool is not my thing and this guy was not having it.

A wasted guy with little knowledge in a particular subject is a surprisingly unpersuasive arguer. After losing the battle of Tool, he thought he could convince me that “THA PEPPERS MAN” were a great band. When someone doesn’t like a band because all their songs sound the same and someone else likes them for the same reason you get a heck of a conversation.

After a series of “yeah man, no man” exchanges, the concert started. In the end, I enjoyed the experience. From neighborhood block parties to flea markets and street festivals, drunken people always seem to entertain more than the live music and deep fried food … sigh …

I miss college.

Brian McGovern is really good at disliking things and can be reached at brianmcgo@gmail.com

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