On a perfect night with the perfect weather in Dallas, I attended a Goo Goo Dolls concert outdoors at the Starplex Pavillion. Phillip Phillips was first up on stage. His show started before the sun went down. When the first guitar note climbed from stage to rafters, there was the scent of beer, cotton T-shirts, and perfume in the air. Plastic seats and concrete floors flavored the scene with their own background noise of aromas.
I have the eyes of a bat and the nose of a bloodhound. Gifted with a preternatural ability to detect the seemingly smallest of scent particles, my nose has given me the ability to experience the invisible. I’ve detected infections in rodents, and the genders of people who have come to look at the house I’d put up for sale. There was a time I knew when a friend had taken the same elevator as me hours before. Yeah, it’s weird. Bad smells keep me up at night the way noise bothers others. The detergent aisle gives me headaches. Cheaply scented candle stores are my idea of hell.
When an injury took this gift away from me for about a year, it was like a psychic losing her abilities. In many ways, this strong of a sense of smell is like being able to see around corners. Losing that was hard. Getting it back was gradual. At the concert it was enlightening.
The first of the strong scents were the high school girls with their aura of candy and sunscreen. They created a witch’s brew of noxious smells. It was topped off with an apparently recent shower using drug store perfume. I thought I’d have to move seats. Luckily, they decided to go poach some open spots closer to the stage. The lights dimmed, the music started, the crowd stood up and the most familiar of all leafy smells instantly floated on the night air.
When people stand up, I like to stand up too. For one, I can see better and two, it keeps me from smelling sweaty butts and damp jeans. Soon, the cell phone army raised their collective devices overhead trying to get the best photos to share. I wondered what it’s like for a band like GGDs, who started playing together three decades ago. Back when cell phones were for drug dealers or the very rich, the landscape that bands perform in front of has absolutely changed. As the night wore on, it was disappointing to me that more people were taking videos and photos than really moving their feet and dancing. A decade ago, it was the other way around. Probably because dancing and good videos don’t go hand-in-hand.
The average age of the audience appeared to be 30, give or take, with plenty younger than that. Three-quarters of the way through the concert, the scent of Bengay hit my nose. It was an eye-opening moment and one that changed my view of the night and what it means to be successful. My disappointment in the lack of real dancing changed to amazement at what this group has accomplished. Stretching across the age ranges of people like a finger across the octaves on a piano, the Goo Goo Dolls have an enviable mass appeal that few bands can claim. In the photo above, lead singer John Rzeznik and keyboardist Korel Tunador are obviously sharing a moment of celebration. Money isn’t the only measure of success. Enjoying what you do and impacting a wide range of people is. Candy to Bengay: That is the smell of success.