My friend and I had to show our IDs to the door guy at the Bowery Ballroom, all three of us in a conspiracy to maintain the illusion that we were on the list. I first encountered aforementioned people while hurtling myself around in the mosh pit of that same concert hall several years before. The band playing that night was a circus punk band from Brooklyn; tonight I was here to see Patti Smith.
I was taken aback at her presence. She is redwood-solid with her feet planted behind the microphone, her trunk moving slowly with the music, her hands swaying aloft to articulate a word, a line. She is wisecracking, a tough lady, but also has a maternal sensibility that made you love her even more. She reprimanded us audience members, "None of you are wearing coats! I hope you all cover up before you go outside, it's chilly out there" with absolute sincerity, before continuing "I always feel bad for those girls I see in this neighborhood on New Years', little girls with no coats, in high heels---puking!"
A really mixed crowd that night. The young and musically well-versed, of course, in outfits of varying spiffiness. But also a great many older people, who probably were there in those first days she started performing not too far from the Ballroom, at the closed-down venues people are so quick to mourn the loss of. An old hippie couple standing next to us held each other throughout the ballads, with headphones to muffle the blaring speakers. Two young girls entwined in each other kissed furiously hanging over the balcony during "Gloria." A guy I knew from high school was there who I haven't seen since graduation. I ran up to him after the show and said hello before running to the subway to get uptown.
I try my best to avoid the subway on New Years' Eve, as it tends to be an utter shitshow. I warily entered the car, and watched the people pile in with their sparkly glasses and various other 2011 memorabilia. Everyone was a little drunk, and everyone was taking pictures. But at some point the entire car burst into "Auld Lang Syne," which no one knew the words to. I couldn't help but smile.