Backstage Pass


Here was my chance to get behind the scenes at a really hot rock concert. I might even be able to do some missionary work … Not!

“Hey—I recognize those guys! I think they’re famous,” I mused as I passed by the strange-looking passengers seated in the first-class cabin of the plane that was carrying me home at the end of my vacation. On my way back to the coach section, I tried to figure out who they were.

They didn’t look like the other passengers on the plane. They had long, ratted hair, torn jeans and vests with no shirts, lots of jewelry, and glassy looks in their eyes. I knew they were in a rock group—I’d seen them in a magazine or a video or something. But the group’s name wouldn’t come to me.

I would soon find out. The man who had shepherded them onto the plane took the seat next to mine. “Do you manage them?” I asked, hoping he’d mention the group’s name so I wouldn’t have to admit I didn’t know it.

He did, and it was such a big group I was glad I hadn’t shown my ignorance by not recognizing them. “Yeah, I take care of these guys, and let me tell you—it’s wild. They don’t do much for themselves. While we’re on planes, I let the flight attendants do the work in first class, while I get some rest back here in coach.”

I was glad he did. I’d heard enough General Authority talks to know that plane flights are great opportunities to tell people about the gospel, so I slipped it into our conversation. He was actually quite interested in what I had to say about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

As the plane landed he said, “Look, it’s been really fun talking with you, and I’d like to do something for you. Why don’t you come to our concert tonight? You can bring some of your Mormon friends. It will be nice to have some straight people there. I’ll leave tickets and backstage passes for you at the gate.”

“That would be great!” I told him. To be honest, I didn’t like his group’s hard rock music. But I was fascinated by their glittery world, so different from mine. I felt like I did in high school when I was invited to one of the incredibly popular Kilborns’ famous weekend-long parties, held only when their parents were away. Never mind that I’d declined that invitation. This was the chance of a lifetime! Maybe I could even do a little missionary work, right?

I started making phone calls as soon as I got home. Strange thing. All my friends had plans already, weren’t home, or weren’t interested in hearing that group play. Half an hour before the concert was to begin, I still hadn’t found anyone to go with me.

“Well, I guess I can just go alone,” I decided as I grabbed my keys and started for the car, which had been sitting in the hot sun all day. The door handle singed my fingers when I touched it. I had to cover the handle with the tail of my shirt to open it.

But as I was about to put the key in the ignition, I heard a voice very distinctly say, “Don’t go.” I whipped around to see who was in the backseat. No one. I started once again to put the key in the ignition, and the same voice said, “You know better. Don’t go.”

Aha—the still, small voice! Of course I knew better. But these were free tickets and backstage passes. It would be a life experience! Hey—maybe it would help me understand and help the people who listen to that music.

Even as I was rationalizing the whole thing, I knew the voice was right. How much spiritually inspired missionary work would I be able to do while obscene music was blasting, and most of the people playing and watching were high? Just what valuable things was I expecting to learn in that kind of atmosphere? I wouldn’t be setting a good example by attending that concert, and I’d be opening myself up to a lot of bad input that I didn’t need rolling around in my mind. How could I ever have thought of going?

I slowly got out of my car and went into the house. I spent a quiet evening at home alone, not unlike the one I’d spent several years before, when I passed on the Kilborns’ party.

I had no regrets. The next day as I drove to work, I turned on the radio and heard the tragic news reports of the concert the night before. There had been fights, stabbings, overdoses, hundreds of arrests, car accidents, and traffic backed up till 4:00 A.M. It was said to be the worst concert in the state’s history.

I couldn’t help but think of Mormon’s teachings about discerning good and evil: “Wherefore, take heed, my beloved brethren, that ye do not judge that which is evil to be of God, or that which is good and of God to be of the devil. … For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil” (Moro. 7:14, 16).

There was no doubt in my mind that the Spirit had saved me from misjudging, and from who knows what else. If I hadn’t listened, I could have easily burned more than my fingers.

[photos] Photography by Steve Bunderson

[photo] The pass offered me access to a whole different world. And I was tempted to take a look—until the Spirit got my attention.