“The modern concert is dead,” I grumbled to Sweet T.
“WHAT?” she yelled over the din. The music was drowning out the sound of our voices.
“Nevermind…” I replied. I shook my head to signify that what I had said wasn’t of any significance and I would just tell her later.
We were at the Electric Factory seeing Dr. Dog, one of our favorite bands. We were staked out next to the railing on the right side of the venue. I was on the left perimeter of our group. As the show started, everything seemed so promising. Bright lights, loud music, beer, reefer, some of my favorite songs; it was a recipe for an excellent night. Unfortunately, a single obstacle came between me and my good time.
Let’s call her Rachel.
On my left side stood a portly, young girl with chest-length light brown hair in her late teens or early twenties. I used the word “standing”, but what she was really doing was flailing and falling directly into me. When she wasn’t obnoxiously bumping her big ass into mine, she was leaning on me, nudging me, and offering unwanted touches. Rachel was invading every inch of nearly non-existent personal space that anybody is granted at a public concert venue.
This had been going on for the last forty five minutes. I shot Rachel’s friends a look of pure exasperation.
“Hey, you should get your friend out of here! She seems real fucked up!” Sweet T yelled to Nameless Friend #1.
“Nah she’s fine!” Nameless Friend #1 told us.
“What the hell is she on?!” I asked.
“Nothing! We’ve just been drinking and smoking!”
Bullshit. This girl was obviously on something. She wore a vacuous, confused stare and lacked motor control and inhibition. Her eyes were dilated. All the signs said Rachel was pretty fucked up.
Rachel’s friends were worthless. They didn’t give a shit whether Rachel was too fucked up to be in public or not. They were only concerned with not being obligated to exit on account of their idiot friend. I was just hoping Rachel would pass out or die so they would be forced to leave.
Listen, I understand the psychology of concert going. You will be stepped on, bumped into, and inconvenienced by drunken fans. You will wait in long lines for dirty bathrooms with piss-soaked seats and no toilet paper. Sloppy idiots will spill beer on your shoes and clothes by mistake. Strangers will talk at you with cigarette and alcohol stained breath. These things are unavoidable at a General Admission level. I’ve accepted that. There is no such thing as a perfect concert. You take it in stride and try to enjoy yourself.
I’ve been hit with crowd surfers and water bottles. I’ve swallowed confetti. I’ve been shoulder to shoulder with every type of drunk or fucked up person imaginable. There are so many inconsiderate and irresponsible concert faux pas that people commit. It’s all just part of the territory.
I no longer expect any music viewing experience to ever go as planned. You are at the mercy of the Drunken Masses. But it is not cool to be that asshole that’s ruining somebody else’s good time. There is an acceptable limit for how close you should stand next to someone and a degree for what’s acceptable when bumping into people. This girl exceeded both of those limits.
It brought my mind back to The Pisser. A friend of mine was once pissed on during a crowded Flaming Lips show. After feeling warmth trickling down her leg, she looked and saw the young man next to her buttoning up his pants. This friend turned to us and said, “Yo, this guy just fucking pissed on me!”
We looked and saw the most psychotic looking concertgoer we’d ever seen. It was mostly his eyes. His eyes were large and bulgy. His smile was twisted and tortured. He looked as though he might snap, like he didn’t know where he was. He had pissed on our friend, and yet he looked back at us and just kept smiling. We were too scared to do anything.
There are people like Rachel and The Pisser at every fucking concert. People like this are a plague on our generation; a pandemic with no apparent cure. Unfortunately, you have to let some things slide. Not tonight, however. I wasn’t about to let anybody piss on me.
At that moment, Rachel began swinging her head back and forth, whipping her hair as she cheered. Her nauseating locks of dirty, sweaty hair started to kick up and hit me in the face.
I stood there dumbfounded as Dirty-Locks repeatedly whipped my face and eyes and mouth with her gross-ass mop. The three bears, tired of pretending to give a shit about her well-being, had moved away from Dirty-Locks. Good for them. I guess Rachel’s inconsiderate behavior was my burden now.
After she hit me in the face with her dirt-locks for the sixth time in five minutes, I knew I had to say something. You don’t just whip your hair into someone’s face like that by accident. As I turned to face her, Rachel turned and looked at me blankly, a thin smirk widening on her face. She paused, stumbled, reached her hand out and intertwined her fingers with mine. As she did this, she leaned in and whisper-yelled, “Wanna get out of here?”
I pulled my hand away quickly.
“Whoa! Dude, you need to stop touching me. Stop bumping into me. Stop swinging your hair in my face. Move over, and stop using me to hold yourself up! I do not want to go anywhere with you! Can you fuckin’ believe this girl?” I said, looking exasperatedly at those around us. I shooed Rachel away from me, disgusted at the sight of her.
Rachel looked at me with a glazed and distant expression that might have translated verbally to, “what’d I do?” She looked shocked, almost hurt. She seemed confused – shocked that I would scold her for simply enjoying herself.
Nameless Friend #1 saw all this happen and stepped in between me and Rachel, giving me enough personal space to dance comfortably for the last few songs of the encore. I did not offer thanks, and they did not offer apology, but I got to enjoy at least a brief portion of the concert in a Rachel-free zone.
The bottom line:
Music today is at a pinnacle of creativity. We live in an age where a new generation of musicians is evolving older sounds into new genres and new technologies. Concerts have become extravagant performances where acclaimed artists use top of the line concert-tech. But the people who go to concerts… We’re disgusting. We’re drunken, reckless fools with no regard for courtesy or consideration for others. This generation of music-lovers stumbles and slurs and pukes while turning every venue into small garbage dumps with trash. The modern concert is dying and we are killing it. We are choking the concert to death, and we are doing it one Rachel and one Pisser at a time.