Forget the donkey and elephant&mdash welcome the Mule

Sarah Steimer

I am writing this on Monday. I have no idea what the election outcome will be, and quite honestly, I doubt we’ll even know for sure who the president is by the end of Tuesday night. Something has been telling me the polls will get skewed. Either way, I hope as you all read this, we do know who the president is.

I went to a Gov’t Mule concert Sunday night in Pittsburgh. If you know nothing about Gov’t Mule, know that Warren Haynes, the band’s vocalist/guitarist, also plays for the Allman Brothers Band. If you don’t know who the Allman Brothers Band is, don’t read my column – go educate yourself.

Leaning on the stage, the bassist grooving in front of me, I left politics. I left homework. I left the economy. I got behind the Mule.

Not to say politics disappeared entirely. The band had a sticker on the equipment that read (in the McCain/Palin logo): “McAin’t Gonna Happen.” Haynes reminded the audience that no matter whom they choose to vote for, they just gotta vote. One audience member even had a shirt on with the Grateful Dead skull; but, where usually a lightning bolt emboldens the head, Obama’s logo was present. (Understand that this was a Deadhead-heavy audience, and it’s not easy to find Republicans in such a crowd.)

But the emphasis wasn’t on anything but music. The emphasis wasn’t on anything but what curled through the ceiling of this 110-year-old theater sitting on a hill above an old steel town – a blue-collar town that has seen its fair share of economic ups and downs.

But this show wasn’t about the economy. This show was about the die-hards and the fresh fans smiling at each other as they recognized an interlude.

It was about dancing and singing along. It was about grabbing a beer between sets and talking about what festival you’ve been to, or the last time you saw Mule at the Orpheum Theatre in Boston for the New Year’s Eve shows.

It was about being shocked that the young kids in show-opener Back Door Slam are far more talented than their assumed ages would let on to be. It was about cheering on that band’s young singer/guitarist when Haynes invited him back on-stage for the encore. It was about knowing that encore would drive even harder when they played the tune you were dying to hear.

It was about stripping off your shirt for a fresh one in the car because the theater was so hot and your nonstop movement didn’t help, then jabbering on and on about what song you liked best, how Haynes noticed you grooving and grinned at you. How impressive the venue was and how you want to see more shows there. And the whole time you’re yelling because you were standing closer to a speaker than your mother would appreciate – then calling mom to thank her for the tickets and tell her just how great the show was.

It’s about throwing that ticket stub in a box of others like it and getting a rush when you pull it out months or years later.

It’s about having a good time.

So thank you, Gov’t Mule, for the reminder. The reminder that no matter if McCain or Obama wins, no matter if the election draws on for another week or so because of technical difficulties at the polls – it’ll be OK. You still have the music, the venues, the fans (both sober and otherwise) and the ticket stubs. Whoever becomes president can’t stop concerts, can’t stop albums, can’t stop a good time (for the most part).

For those who voted, we thank you. For those who will continue to jam on no matter what, I stand up and applaud you.

And for those who download some Gov’t Mule after reading this – well, you can e-mail me, and then we’ll talk.

Sarah Steimer is a junior magazine journalism major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].