The other night up in Tennessee there was a pack of wild bear cubs running around my boyfriend’s parents’ neighborhood—like, all up in their house and everything, even saw one when I got out of the shower and felt weirdly embarrassed that it saw me in a towel—but I had tickets to a Miley Cyrus concert so I couldn’t hang around to see how it all worked out.
I left Tennessee and headed to Atlanta for the show, which was at the Civic Center, which was smaller than I remembered. I was supposed to meet my friend Katy somewhere but couldn’t find her, so I grabbed my tickets from Will Call and headed inside to look for our seats, which I also couldn’t find. As I wandered around the floor, climbing over people and rows trying to figure out where section CC was, I became more and more intrigued by the crowd. You’d expect a lot of little girls at a Miley Cyrus concert, right? But there was nary a tween in sight at the Civic Center; it was all groups of twenty-somethings and middle-aged folks, all gathered early, all waiting in their seats in cool anticipation.
This—not the marauding bear cubs or the fact that downtown Atlanta was located at the bottom of the hill from my boyfriend’s parents’ house in Tennessee, but the large numbers of adults at a Miley Cyrus concert—was the first sign that I might be dreaming.
The second sign was the CDs being carried in hand by the one young kid I saw, a ten-year old Indian boy who sat next to me in one of the many seats I thought was my seat but wound up not being my seat. They were in cardboard cases with the names on the front: One was by a band called Bad Club, which I do not think is an actual band, and the other was a collaborative effort from jj and Mrs. Uh Huh Her, which I took to mean the married half of the band Uh Huh Her, although I know nothing about that band as a band let alone whether one or either of its two female members are married.
I saw the CDs and thought, “Man, even the kids here are weirdly cool.”
And then I thought, “I am totally going to write my column about this next week.”
And then I realized I was not in the right seat so I got up and left the cool little kid and climbed over some people—literally put my feet on their bodies and climbed over them. They were not totally happy but also were not quite mad. But I was mad because not only could I not find my seat but then I realized that I did not have any kind of notebook with me so I could not take notes about all of the different kinds of unlikely people who were there to see Miley Cyrus. Then I decided that detailed mental notes would be sufficient and also I found my seat and so my mood improved—doubly so when I realized my seats were in a middle section that featured reclining chairs and also a salad bar. My friend Katy was there and had been for some time and I wondered why she had not called me and why there were so many vats of pickled jalapenos on the salad bar and why she was wearing strange, flowy, paisley-printed silk dress. In the dream it seemed strange but now, not so much; in real life, if Katy does not already own a dress like this, she would probably like to.
The salad bar provided some diversion but the concert was still taking forever to start. We sat and sat and all the seats around us filled up and a stool and single guitar were brought out onstage but the lights never dimmed and the crowd kept murmuring, low and excitedly. My initial interest in Miley Cyrus’ inexplicable new fans began to fade into a mild panic. There were so many grown men there; good on them for being unabashed in their musical tastes, but wasn’t it a bit creepy how soon this teenage girl would be singing and dancing around for all these grown guys while probably not wearing very many clothes? I started feeling worried for her, getting all exploited and objectified up there. But then I remembered Miley Cyrus’ recent career transformation—not from borderline-sexy teen-pop singer into full-on-sexy teen-pop singer, but into a thoughtful and respected folk singer/songwriter of the (dare I say it?) “indie” persuasion.
I began to wonder who was opening for her and a Xeroxed show flier appeared out of somewhere to answer me. “Oh, nice,” I thought. “I’ve been wanting to see them.”
And then I woke up, starving for breakfast and bummed enough that I didn’t dream through the rest of the Miley Cyrus folk revue that I am now contemplating what it would take to actually make it happen. Guitar lessons? A stay in rehab? Some Bob Iver alone time in a remote wintry outpost? I don’t know. But now my head hits the pillow each night hoping that the solution—much like the problem—will come to me in sleep. Although maybe it would just be easier to get thesefolks together.
Rachael Maddux is Paste’s associate editor. Her column appears at PasteMagazine.com every Monday.