“My friends grew up, they never get drunk, they never wanna hang out late
They’re gonna get jobs, they’re gonna pay bills, they’re gonna get old and gray
I’ll never do that, I wanna stay young, don’t wanna fit in, I wanna have fun
So if that’s okay, I don’t think I’m ever gonna act my age.”
—Hoodie Allen, “Act My Age”
I had a great time at the Hoodie Allen concert on Saturday night. The songs were all catchy, and Hoodie himself has a lively stage presence. He was looking very slick, very keen when he appeared on the stage in Douglass in a pair of sunglasses and what I first thought was some kind of hat, but which turned out just to be his hair. It was immaculate.
The Public Safety officers had a great stage presence too. I first noticed them, standing—up there above the concertgoers on the Douglass balcony, during the opening act when the irrepressible Willie B announced that his next song would be about “smoking weed and running from the police.” The Public Safety officers didn’t appear too concerned. Maybe it was an issue of jurisdiction, or maybe they just didn’t find him very convincing. The officers remained there throughout the night; I checked on them several times, looking up to the balcony as sort of a diversion when Hoodie’s fourth or fifth rant against growing up began to drag on. And although the officers didn’t show any outward signs of it, I’d like to think they enjoyed the show too. Even law enforcement officers “just wanna fit in, just wanna have fun,” after all, like everyone else.
It’s hard to pick a favorite moment from the evening. Maybe it was when Hoodie started freestyling about the University, dropped the word “Meliora” during a verse and prompted some of the loudest cheers I have ever heard from UR students. Or maybe it was the next verse, which I regret to say I was unable to transcribe in its glorious entirety, but which distinctly contained the line “having sex in the stacks.” Even more cheers for that one.
Or maybe my favorite part was in the middle of his song “Cake Boy,” right after the second chorus, when Hoodie yelled that “they wouldn’t let me throw a cake,” and hurled a loaf of sliced bread into the crowd. Oh, how my heart breaks that I was in the back row of the concert and was unable to catch even one of the slices. I didn’t even get to read the label on the wrapper—was it sourdough? White bread? Rye? If anyone knows, please tell me. The slices scattered into the crowd like the shards of a broken American dream.
Yes, the show may have reached a climax at that point, but it was a long, uphill march to get there. Hoodie didn’t even appear on stage until almost 9:30, an hour after the opening act (that indelible young hero, Willie B) had left the stage. For the course of that hour, we stood packed tightly together in Douglass. I felt a strange camaraderie with the other concertgoers in that span of time; we were like strangers waiting in a station for a train that might arrive at any moment. Like passengers in a station, no one was willing to stray too far from the rails, so even though the dining hall was two-thirds empty, we pressed close to the stage, filling the air with our anticipatory exhalations, craning our necks around the station platform to catch a glimpse of the onrushing freight train that was Hoodie Allen and his band.
I wasn’t familiar with Hoodie’s oeuvre before this weekend, so I was a beaming new convert to his church, a fresh ear for his jubilant “motherfuckers.” And truly, I did enjoy the songs. I’ve been listening to them since the concert, and if I’m not vigilant, one or two of them may find their way onto my iPod before the winter.
But, for now at least in Rochester, the summer is still in swing, with all the fathomless, violent joy that implies. Hoodie said as much in between songs on Saturday: “At least it’s not snowing yet.” Yeah, Hoodie, yeah! Tell us more! And he obliged. “Fuck snow!” he cried. There was a great roar of approval from the student body.
Later in the show, this prophet of summer launched into an enthusiastic rendition of Blink-182’s “What’s My Age Again,” and later, “My Own Worst Enemy” by Lit. This unforecasted but well-received departure from the Hoodie canon contained one other song whose name I do not recall, but it doesn’t matter. There is only one ‘90s pop-punk song, and there will only ever be one; it is reincarnated again and again under different aliases. Its latest avatar is Hoodie Allen, and as long as Hoodie keeps rapping, he will truly never grow old, even while we miserable students find ourselves getting jobs, paying the bills and sliding inexorably toward oblivion.
I found that even as I, the ostensible beneficiary of Hoodie’s talent, listened to the music, I was simultaneously the object of his ire and his fury. I am—we all are—the “dudes back in high school” to whom Hoodie gives a resounding middle finger on “Eighteen Cool.” We may think we’re the “friends drinking whiskey” who receive a thumbs up, or the “girls that will miss [Hoodie],” who inherit a peace out, but that’s just an illusory effect of our inability to look past the present moment in time. If we could gaze into the future, we would see that the only true disciple of pop-punk is Hoodie Allen, who will still be knocking back shots of liquor and dancing in a sweaty basement when the Sun goes nova. We, the haters, are merely his fuel, and as long as people keep talking, he can never fade away.
Keep them talking, Hoodie.
Passanisi is a member of the class of 2017.