My First “There Was This One Conference When…” Story

I’m still riding a personal high, so forgive me if this comes out a little bit jumbled.

Last night (Monday), Security Today editor Ralph Jensen and I were chatting in an Uber on our way to an after-show event. He asked what I had going on tonight (Tuesday).

“Nothing officially,” I told him. “There’s a few events I’ve been invited to, and I need to register for one of them, but I haven’t decided which one yet.”

“I got something for you,” he said.

Ralph would tell you that he’s not officially my boss, but he’s the editor-in-chief of Campus Security & Life Safety magazine, and I’m the senior editor. What he says, I do. I knew that whatever he said next, my next words after that would be some variation of “You got it, boss.”

“It’s at the aquarium, and the Barenaked Ladies are playing,” he said.

I made the conscious effort to keep my jaw from dropping.

BNL’s 1996 live album “Rock Spectacle” is one of the first albums I was ever obsessed with, that I discovered, appreciated, and listened to over and over (and over) during my music taste’s formative years (ages 12-14 or so). “Stunt” (1998) and “Maroon” (2000) also made their way into the rotation before I hit high school. I’ve never even had to rediscover them in my adult years, because they never went away. They’re a popular-enough band that almost everyone knows of them and can name two or three of their radio hits. But even now, 20 years later, I actively enjoy them and select them from among the near-infinite options available via streaming services like Spotify. I swear to God, not one week (heh) ago, I put “Rock Spectacle” on shuffle and turned the volume all the way up for a long post-lawn-mowing shower.

“I could see the Barenaked Ladies,” I told Ralph in as casual a tone as I could muster.

Fast-forward to tonight, a little less than three hours ago. The stage was set up in the lobby of the Georgia Aquarium, cordoned off from the audience only by those same little retractable gadgets that form security lines at the airport. Not only did I get to see BNL, I—by some stroke of luck or forward thinking—made it to the second line of people behind the nylon rope. I was *maybe* fifteen feet from founding members Ed Robertson and Jim Creegan. Drummer Tyler Stewart and I made sustained eye contact at least once. I sang along; screamed after each song; took selfies, photos and videos; and lost any sense of chill and inhibition I try to demonstrate at work events.

Slightly over 24 hours ago, the last place in the world that I expected to be was the front row of a Barenaked Ladies concert. And it was the best (non-girlfriend-related) hour and a half of my life in years.

Thanks, Ralph, for the ticket. Thanks, Securitas, for hosting the event. And thank you, Barenaked Ladies, for putting on a hell of a show and making thirteen-year-old Matt’s wildest dreams come true.

About the Author

Matt Jones is senior editor of Spaces4Learning and Campus Security and Life Safety. He can be reached at


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