Eight years we pumped ourselves up for cross country racesand track meets, blasting our Ipod shuffle on crowded school buses. All we heard was the music. The lyrics. Mouths moved around us. All we heard was the music. We screamed every line, every song. We sat on bleachers waiting for our race with lyrics sinking electric, fire in our bones. She would beat her times every 800 meters. I would win countless one mile and two mile races. It’s like we ran the laps in our head to the songs we connected so much to.
‘Wait for something better, this feeling won’t go.’
‘Castles in the sky sit stranded vandalized/ out where the dreams all hide.’
‘Can we climb this mountain?
‘If you can’t hold on, hold on…’
‘I don’t mind if you don’t mind, cuz I don’t shine if you don’t shine.’
In April 2017, Lost Lake tickets went on sale for October 20-22. The Killers were headlining. At 9 a.m., “Early Bird Tickets” would be clickable. I sat at my work desk staring at a webpage I kept refreshing from 8:45 until what was now 8:59. My best friend, Ana, sat at her work desk, mirroring me. We connected through texts that read “!!!!!!” “Two minutes” “BESTIE I’M FREAKING OUT!!!” “We’ve been waiting eight years!!!” “OUR KILLERS, OUR FLOWERS!!!” At 9:02 a.m. it was ours. Our first chance to see them “In the FLESH!” sat in each of our emails.
We discussed outfits, standing out like fireworks in a black sky. We shared a unique love for the band that makes us feel home and on top of the world. We had to stay true to ourselves, to our heroes. The lead singer, Brandon Flowers, set the bar high. In photos, we saw his pink leather jacket, silver blazer matching silver pants, sparkling gold suit with mirrored aviators. It was all about flash. Iconic. We had to fill sparkly shoes. Ana found various sequins jackets on Amazon. I decided on silver, her on gold. Completing the firework, we bought black leather shorts, black bralettes, black boots. Ana sent me a photo of Brandon Flowers in a silver leather jacket, ‘The Man’ written on the back, representing the Killer’s new hit single.
“This is it bestie! We have to put this on the back! It would be toooo perfect!!!”
The morning of October 21, Ana finished gluing the big black letters on the back of my silver jacket, her gold one already hanging up. I stared at our jackets, side-by-side, as Killers songs filled the bedroom.
Today was our day.
We arrived at the gates around 11:45. Ana and I eyed opposing lines, seeing some with Killers shirts. We would race them to the Camelback stage. Security mistakenly took us for back-up dancers, as our silver, gold sequins reflected sunlight and glitzed eyes. We shook through security, then, we were off! Years of track and cross country had trained us for this 400 meter sprint. Stride by stride, we flew. Like a track’s straightaway, there was the last stitch of grass leading to the stage. It was time for our final kick. We ran hard into our silver railing.
“We’ve waited eight years to see them, we can wait nine hours.” Our corner became popular because of our jackets. Photographers and people amongst the crowd wanted pictures. We smiled, posed, proud of our spirits, our ‘crazy.’
An hour to go, we squatted down, formed a two-person concert. “Miss Atomic Bomb, let’s go…” ‘ Racing shadows…we were innocent and young…“Okay now Read My Mind!” On the corner of Main street… “And This River is Wild!” You better run for the hills….
30 minutes left. We stood up, clutched each other’s hand, sequins sleeve. Both tingling. One more guy begged us for a selfie. “I need y’all on my story!” We smiled, posed. Click.
“You know, that guy is part of the crew right?”
Ana and I snapped our heads back. “What?”
“Yeah, he’s part of the Killer’s crew–”
“No he’s not, shut the f**k up” I say in the most nervous-happy-excited way.
“Look.” She points center stage, where he puts up the Killer’s light fixture. I smile at him, his eyes smile back. He throws an apple out to me that I catch, making him smile more.
“Oh my god bestie! What is happening?” We both felt spark. The Killers came out with their first song being our jacket’s namesake. We screamed every word back caught pink and white confetti in our cleavage, danced for two hours to a show we wouldn’t forget.
Who’s the Man, I’m the Man
I’ve got soul but I’m not a soldier!
“Take as much confetti as you can!” Ana shouted to me as the concert ended. A tangible memory.
“Hey! You two, wait there!” It was the selfie guy, the apple guy…the KILLERS CREW MEMBER. “Snake wants to meet you guys. Backstage, let’s go. He saw your jackets on social media.”
Ana and I don’t think. We hop over the railing and cross over grass leading past the stage.
“Hi, hi…” Ana’s voice cracks in front of me, I see the light of backstage.
“Hey ladies!” We meet Snake. He hugs us and raves about the jackets.
“These jackets are AWESOME! I saw them on Instagram, and I said, ‘I gotta meet these girls.’ So, y’all want a drink, pizza, everything’s inside the trailer.” We give “thank-yous” the whole 100 feet up the ramp. We sit on a black couch with pizza, beer, shaking hands.
“Bestie, what is going on! We are sitting backstage with The Killers!”
“I know! I know! Let’s try not to freak out,” she screeches through her grin. We meet Ronnie, the drummer, his boxer, Archie, followed by Ted, lead guitarist. Other crew members stop by, hand us setlists. Snake sits with us.
“You guys probably want to meet Brandon right?”
Ana and I look at each other.
I see him walking up the ramp. Happy tears form, but I hold back. We’re strong. We shake his hand, we hug him. The Man. The man behind all the lyrics we hold in crevices of our hearts.
We praise their performance, he praises our jackets. He signs our setlist, takes pictures with
us, it’s fireworks. The waiting. The outfits. The day. The hours. The show. This. Everything sparked.
Ana and I leave the park, crying, embracing,
“We’re never going to get over this!”
“This is all because of you. These jackets.” I tell her because it’s true. “You got us here.”
She smiles. “We got us here.” No sleeping that night, just giggling in bed with my best friend about a day we dreamed of, a night we didn’t imagine.
It was the last festival day. Ana twiddled on her phone as I did makeup.
“Oh my god bestie, look at this post about us…” I assumed this post was ‘normal.’ With our jackets from yesterday we pretty much went viral. I looked at Ana, and her face told me it wasn’t.
“What?” I take the phone. It was a meme of us. A photo of us we had taken with Brandon Flowers, where our backs are facing the camera so “The Man” jackets can be seen, Brandon standing in the middle of us. The picture was photo-shopped at the bottom with our lower halves from individual photos we had taken, and posted, on our social media. The two pictures lined-up, showing our full outfits– jackets, black leather shorts. The meme stated, “If dressing like this gets you backstage then ________.” It was aimed at our shorter shorts. The caption read, “I’m speechless, what are your thoughts?” Over 80 comments were posted, including “Maybe I should write ‘no more shadowplay on my tits;” “The tops were clever but anyone can show ass;” “Is that all it takes to get backstage these days?!” “I just never saw The Killers as people who would admire THAT aspect of their outfit…People on tumblr are going so far as to call them sluts.” Others defended us, “So sad how people keep shaming these girls for their clothes. It’s a MUSIC FESTIVAL. I think it’s really cool how they put so much dedication into their outfits, and I’m so happy they got noticed!” “I have no business shaming them. They look cute!”
I rose my head to Ana’s broken face.
“Bestie, what’s wrong?”
“Don’t let it get to you, it’s just people talking. Jealousy.”
“Yeah, but it is getting to me. It does make me feel bad about myself.”
“No! No!” I feel anger building towards people who I didn’t know, hurting my best friend. “Don’t you ever feel bad for something like this, for being yourself. Over people who don’t matter. Last night was a night neither of us will forget. We met our heroes, they can’t take that away from us. Don’t let negativity win. You deserved last night.”
None of my words start to heal her. She continues to bow her head and shake it slowly, wiping away tears.
“Look at me. Those jackets, that’s why we got backstage. Our love for this band shined through the jackets. We were just being ourselves.”
We skipped the last day of the music festival, went to our favorite bar, “Lux.”
“Ya know bestie, I’m going to write an article about this.”
“Huh?” She inquires.
“About our story, our unexpected night, our love for our Killers, and how it all turned into a dream come true, and how no one can take that away from us. No slut-shaming, no negativity. Let’s choose to shine.”
She smiles, “Bestie that would be amazing. I know you’ll do it, and you’ll do it right.”
I toast to us.
“We’re free spirits, our fun-loving intentions, those out-run any bad. We just keep shining. Together. I don’t shine if you don’t shine.”
Eight years ago, together with one headphone in each ear, one night ago clutching hands at the railing, on a couch in The Killers backstage trailer, and tonight, living positive aftermath.
We were, in the words of our Killers, “Shining like rebel diamonds cut out of the sun… can you read my mind? ”
Author: Stacey L Herrle
Author Bio: My name is Stacey Herrle. I am a driven writer and a full-fledged dreamer. To me, my writing and dreams go hand-in-hand. I derive most of my inspiration for writing from personal experience, my heart and adventure. I want to be a writer who leaves a mark, who makes noise. I want to write artistically. To write fire. Electric. Raw. What is scary to write. Shake it up. Tell my truth. One day, I want to be a powerful voice for individuals who have trouble living what’s in their hearts– the feelings, the truths, the wants, the vulnerable windows and doors that want to open and share. To me, through writing, we have the opportunity to be our strongest selves– to be true to ourselves.