The Rolling Stones took their final bows and disappeared backstage. As the house lights went up, my son, Andrew, and I filed out with about 40,000 others who had packed North Carolina State University's Carter-Finley Stadium.
Our ears were still buzzing from guitarist Keith Richards' crashing power chords on "Satisfaction" -- the closing number -- and I asked Andrew if he had enjoyed the show.
"Dad," he said, "that may have been the best two hours of my life."
Andrew, who is 19, voiced similar sentiments when we watched the Yankees win the World Series in 2009; the Giants win the Super Bowl in 2012; and last year, when we saw the NASCAR Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
The Stones show, though, was special. Seeing the iconic rockers was the culmination of a father-son interest that rekindled an enthusiasm for music Andrew has demonstrated nearly his whole life.
My son's Stones obsession started when he was about 3. My wife, Donna, found him one day watching one of my concert videos of the band -- drumming along to the songs using two yogurt containers and a pair of chopsticks.
Soon, Andrew had a drum kit in the basement and was taking lessons. Donna and I got used to the house shaking as his solos improved. At Farmingdale High School, he played drums in the marching band and percussion in the orchestra. Along the way, he picked up guitar and started lessons. Eventually, he joined a band with four other talented young people. They called themselves Studio 9 and, with Andrew on rhythm guitar, the band won several Long Island "Battle of the Bands" competitions. They raised money through Kickstarter and released a CD of original material.
In the fall of 2013, the members of Studio 9 went off to college, ending the band. Andrew continued to play, mostly guitar, in his room. While his tastes broadened to other artists, he never lost his love of the Stones.
I had no interest in his penchant for Grand Theft Auto, but we enjoyed the Stones together. The band was a seminal influence in my life, too. I wasn't a rocker, but I sported a hairdo akin to Richards '70s-era spiky-shag while in college. And in what is still one of the most exciting moments of my journalism career, I got to interview former Stones bassist Bill Wyman in 2002.
Earlier this year, when the band announced its Zip Code tour that would hit 15 mostly-smaller cities, Andrew had an idea. "Dad, they're going to be playing in Raleigh," he said. "We could see them there with Uncle Terrence and Ryan."
Terrence McDonald, who grew up in Wantagh and married my cousin Diane, and his 21-year-old son Ryan, live in Raleigh, where N.C. State is located. We visit them at least once a year. "American Express is going to have a pre-sale for cardholders," Andrew said. "Don't you have an American Express card?" So, at the stroke of midnight when the pre-sale began, we snared four tickets to to see the Stones on July 1.
We flew in that afternoon, rendezvoused with our relatives and headed to the stadium. It was hot, we were soggy, we were tired -- but we were finally seeing the Stones! As the roadie crew set up the stage and the stadium filled, Andrew regaled us with "insider" details. "That's Keith's guitar tech," he said, pointing to a fellow onstage. How did he know? "I've been watching a lot of Stones videos." Drummer Charlie Watts uses a traditional, four-piece drum kit, Andrew told us, somewhat unusual among rock drummers today. Andrew also studied the set lists of the band's previous shows on the tour and knew which songs were coming. We cheered and sang along to their greatest hits and more obscure numbers and loved them all. It was a fabulous show.
After the concert, I wondered if Andrew and I would share something like this again. Now entering his junior year in college, he's at an age less likely to want to do things with his dad.
A few days ago, I got my answer as Andrew showed me a YouTube video of the Stones at the conclusion of their Zip Code tour in Quebec City on July 15. They thanked fans, and Mick Jagger hinted the Stones might be returning soon. Andrew said, "Maybe we can go see them again!"
I'd like that.