The Beautiful Smell of Sweat, Cigarettes, and Rock and Roll

Jump to Comments


Whether or not you’re a big fan of music, seeing a live band is always special. The rush of walking into a packed concert venue with hundreds if not thousands of screaming fans is hard to replicate. The smell of sweat and cigarettes may be unappealing outside of a concert hall, but when you’re in it, and you’re swaying back and forth to the beat, the smell is intoxicating.

Living across the street from a concert venue, I get the opportunity to bask in this aroma on a pretty regular basis. Sometimes, the aroma isn’t as pleasant as you might expect it to be, as was the case on Friday night when I saw a band called Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., but other times, you just want to bottle it up and take it wherever you go. Last night was one of those nights.

Steve Buscemi and Vampire Weekend kicked off the 2013 American Express Unstaged series at Roseland ballroom. In its third year, the unstaged series has included the likes of Kenny Chesney, The Killers, Usher, Duran Duran, and many others. I had not planned on attending the event, but got tickets from a friend a half hour before the show. By the time I walked in, Vampire Weekend was just getting on stage, and the crowd was going wild. I was greeted with the welcoming first notes of “Cousins,” followed by the pleasant odorous kick in the face of alcohol, sweat, and cigarettes. I knew from that moment, it was going to be one hell of a show.

While the band is certainly not known for rocking out on a stage, their energy was palpable and the indie band made it feel like a true rock and roll concert. They played fan favorites all night, including “I Stand Corrected”, “A-Punk” and “Oxford Comma’” and ended the show with a four song encore performance. While they didn’t play “M79”or “The Kids Don’t Stand a Chance,” (my favorite songs off their first album), their set list was more than enough to keep me satisfied.

Their new song, “Obvious Bicycle” was met with great applause, and that overwhelming concert smell was kept fresh all night long. I personally love a band that seems to ignore their designated performance time, and Vampire Weekend definitely did that. They played well past midnight, and even though they had probably already planned to do four songs for their encore, it truly felt like they were never going to leave the stage.

While you may not be able to experience the aroma and energy from last night’s show, I definitely recommend checking out the re-stream.  Besides being able toggle between four cameras (the stage, the crowd, a director’s cut, and back stage) you will see a few clever gags by Fred Armisen and Steve Buscemi and you might be able to catch the author of this blog screaming his face off in the middle of the crowd.  I was wearing a blue v-neck and I have a beard. Good luck.

For today’s poll

Which artist from past American Express Unstaged concerts is your favorite?

Coldplay (2011)

John Legend (2010)

Kenny Chesney (2012)

For the latest pop culture news and voting, make sure to sign up for the People’s Choice newsletter!