Shouting into the Storm Rantings, ramblings, observations and musings from the insipid to the sublime

Sunday, July 21, 2002 :::
Concert-going 101

Here we are in the middle of summer, and somehow I have managed to see only one concert. While driving around DC today, I was bombarded with ads for all the big shows at the big faceless outdoor sheds. I thought, "Damn, I remember when the entire summer was planned around one huge concert." Usually it was Aerosmith. My friends and I would plan a tailgate party, you'd get giddy hearing the new single on the radio. The day of the show was a bona fide EVENT. Of course, since my first Aerosmith show in 1990, I've probably been to around 300 shows. Be it a small smokey club in a back alley in Boston to Red Rocks Ampitheater in Colorado to the old Boston Garden, it has almost become routine. I've developed all of my little routines - where to stand, where to get earplugs, when to arrive, etc. etc. It is isn't quite "Ho hum, another day, another gig" but the magic of the concert going experience has been diminished.

One of the reasons is that I have come to realize that people, when put in groups, are idiots. So, because I can, here are the types of people who annoy me the most at live shows. These apply most directly to club/small venue shows.

1) The person on the cell phone. In May 2001, I saw Blues Traveler at the 9:30 Club in DC. For the entire show, the girl in front of me was on her cell phone telling her friend about the show. Of course, she had to shout to be heard over the music, but she persevered, and talked for nearly two hours straight.

2) The never-ending story. A close relative of Person #1. They decide to have an on and off conversation for the entire show. Again, because the band has the temerity to continue playing during this time, they are forced to shout, causing great distraction to those around you. Especially band if they are right behind your ear. If the conversation is particularly insipid, it is like having a temporary sentence in the 4th level of Hell. A subset of this is the individuals who stop thier conversations just long enough to scream when the band begins a song they like. However, once the first big lick/hook goes by, thier back to the conversation.

3) Drunk Boy. Easy to spot by the Generic Alpha Male Frat Boy look. Baseball cap optional. Will offer to kick your ass for any number of reasons at any time in the night. Is oblivious to the fact that as he thrashes around "dancing" he is knocking over people left and right. Extra points if he is pawing at his hot Drunk Girl girlfriend.

4) Drunk Girl. Slamming back overpriced rum and cokes all night, and almost always dressed up like a two-bit whore. Will slur angrily at you after she staggers into you, assuming you are trying to grab her ass(OK, so maybe you were). Will at one point or another yell at someone for staring at thier body, even though most of it is exposed. Will usually be seen being comforted by her friends outside the club after she tosses her cookies.

4) Drunk Man. Not to be confused with Drunk Boy. This is fine specimen has been out of his drinking prime for many years. Perhaps this is his big night out, his chance to cut loose. Problem is, by the time the opening act is finishing, he can barely stand. The odds are high he will produce a technicolor yawn for any and all to see. Best-case scenario - he pukes on Drunk Boy, and those two forces cancel each other out.

5) Drunk Woman. Very, very similar to Drunk Man. Will dirty dance for anyone and everyone. Particularly dangerous if she is single and out with her older single friends. You half expect the Croc guy to show up and yell "Oh, crikey, danger people! Look at the flush on her neck, not a good sign at'all". Best to avoid, since she may be there with her Drunk Man husband, who will take his wife's flirting with you as a sign you are making moves on his woman.

6) The Line of Elephants. For some reason, women must move as a pack. Smoke breaks, bathroom breaks, whatever, there needs to be multiple women to make the experience more meaningful. In this case, it is moving from the middle of the floor in a club to whatever the final destination is. To ensure the group a) Gets thier in one piece and b) they annoy as many people as possible, they form a chain-gain like hand holding line that always reminds me of how the elephants enter a circus(snout to tail for you heathens who haven't been to the circus recently). They wind and twist throught the crowd like the drunk conga line at your cousin's wedding. But these people aren't totally useless. Etnertain yourself by forcing the link to break about halfway through. Watch the two halves drift apart and thrash like the splitting cells of an ameoba. Always helps pass the time during a dull song.

7 The Late Arrival. Arrives at the venue 10 minutes before the headliner comes on, and yet is shocked, SHOCKED I say, that the floor is packed with people. Undaunted, they will try to make it to the front of the audience. Who cares if the people against the stage waited outside the venue for three hours to get those spots? It is thier destiny to be as close as possible. And if a few innocent bystanders get an elbow or get pushed around, hey, who cares. Have fun with these people by refusing to acknowledge them, much less move for them.

There are so many more, but for the most part, they are just small annoyances. A few last tips:
- Know your alcohol tolerance. Ticket prices are getting higher by the minute, you might want to remember what songs the band played. Don't be surprised when people laugh at you for getting sick.
- Find a spot to sit/stand and be happy with it. Being up front can be fun, but do you want to be crushed against the barricade for three horus?
- Stand by the soundboard. If it is good enough for the engineer to mix, it's good enough for you. Just don't talk to him, he's busy.
- Most importantly, be aware of those around you. Remember that if you bump the guy next to you, he might stagger backwards and crush some little girl behind him. Enjoy yourself, get into the music, but remember you are one of a thousand people in a hot crowded room.

::: posted by Chris at 8:48 PM

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