I overheard a conversation between a teenage girl and her mum on tram 26 from IJburg to Central Station. The mum had parked the car on a free carpark in Zeeburg and they were now on the way to shop for clothes in Amsterdam. The girl was planning to take a look in Topshop, Forever21 and River Island. Not H&M, she described herself as “not much of a H&M type anymore”. The mum mentioned the potential purchase of a new eyebrow pencil, upon which I realised the daughter was in a particular teenage phase that I too, suffered from to a sickening degree. The phase where you compulsively talk about the object of your obsession to adults who do not understand.
“I remember when I forgot to bring my eyebrow pencil to the 5 Seconds of Summer gig,” she said. “I had to quickly buy one from an Etos at the train station, but it wasn’t quite the right colour. I thought the whole time, what if I end up meeting them after the concert and I take a picture with them with these eyebrows?”
“Are 5 Seconds of Summer the one with the boy with the blond hair?” the mum asked.
“You’ll have to elaborate. Several of the members have had blond hair at different stages, and so have members of 22 Pilots.”
“Are 22 Pilots the band who you’re going to see live soon?”
“It’s good that you mention that actually. Carré said that I can stay over at her house after the concert, as she lives in Amsterdam.”
This concerned the mum. “Have I ever met Carré? Where do you know her from?”
“Oh, just from Twitter.”
“Why don’t you ask her if she wants to come visit you in Almere soon so we can all meet her?”
This was clearly not exactly what the daughter was angling for, forcing her cool groupie friend from Amsterdam to come and spend the day in Almere so her family could vet her as a potential friend. Still, she thought this might be the right moment to push her luck a little more.
“It’s funny actually, the same week as that concert I’m going to, Melanie Martinez and Panic! At The Disco are also playing in Amsterdam,” she said in as casual a tone of voice as she could.
“You can’t go to three concerts in one week, you know that right?” the mom said.
“Yeah of course I know that, I mean I don’t wanna go or anything I was just mentioning it like as a comment.”
The mum was clearly still not entirely comfortable with the concept of twitter pals from Amsterdam.
“Did you see that the people who moved in at the end of the street have a daughter your age? She looks like she might be into the same things you like, you know, your bands and everything. Maybe you can see if she would like to go to concerts with you sometimes?”
“But I don’t know her. Do you want me to just go up to her and ask ‘Do you like 5 Seconds of Summer?’”
“Well that’s what you do on the internet don’t you?”
The mum, determined not to let this fun day out be spoiled by the generation gap, brought the conversation back to what type of clothes they might go and buy later. The daughter brought up 5 Seconds of Summer three more times between Rietlandpark and Central Station, segueing easily from the mention of a pink bomber jacket into the type of jackets their singer often wears, and from the mum’s craving for a Starbucks latte into a simple “We also went to that Starbucks before the gig.”
Ten to twelve years ago, this was me to the detail. There was hardly a topic that I couldn’t turn into a reference to The Darkness. I would notice how annoying I was being, but would be incapable of controlling it. An uncle would bring up an impending holiday that involved an Easyjet flight, and I would tell them about the time I flew to Liverpool with that same airline to see The Darkness. My grandmother would point out a particular kind of sheep on a walk in the countryside, and I would loudly wonder if Dan Hawkins of The Darkness had these kinds of sheep at Leeders Farm, the farm where he had a recording studio as well as a barn with animals. Just like for the girl on the tram Starbucks was forever connected to that fateful day she went to see 5 Seconds of Summer, I could barely contain my excitement upon seeing the Febo in front of the Heineken Music Hall where I had chips with mayo and a strawberry milkshake before my first Darkness concert.
In the absence of your online friends, with whom you can shamelessly discuss the hilarity of spotting a pair of shoes that a roadie of the band once wore, you have no choice but to bore your family members with your pathological love for a band that they can barely remember the name of. That one concert, that one time you got to take a picture with the bass player, that one conversation you had with their tour bus driver, that’s all you have to keep you going through math class, Christmas dinner with your family, disappointing first relationships and shopping trips with your mum. How did teenage girls survive it all before there was such a thing as rock stars?