We have all been there! You’re at a show and the sound is so bad you can’t discern the music from the feedback. Or you are squeezed into a corner so tightly by an unforgiving and unwashed throng of people that you literally feel like you might die from lack of oxygen. Perhaps you enter the venue like an eager beaver and scan the crowd for friendly faces only to realise straight away that you have made a huge mistake. By JOHN BITTLES
I have been to gigs populated almost exclusively be 12 to 14 year olds screaming the entire time at nothing in particular and jumping up and down in excitement cause they haven’t seen each other since earlier that day in school. I’ve been pushed, pulled and crushed. Seen bands so woeful that the term music should never be applied. I have been felt up, punched up, had drinks thrown over me and generally just stood in an over-crowed room for a few hours while wishing I was back at home.
We have all done this though! This is the nature of the gig! For every spellbinding, life-changing show that sends shivers up and down the spine we have to sit through countless shows that are lifeless, dull and crap. Yet when everything goes right, going to see a live band can be the most thrilling experience of your otherwise dull life.
Let’s face it though, a lot of gigs these days are pretty depressing affairs. Between the scourge of camera-phones, rip-off prices and over-enthusiastic punters it’s a wonder that anybody still goes to live music venues at all. There is a way though! Through many years of gig-going I have developed some coping mechanisms that have stood me in quite good stead over the years (if you don’t count the scars, bruises and numerous disappointments that is). And now in the following helpful points I am prepared to share some of this sage advice with you.
1. Don’t go to big gigs. Seems a simple ideology now that I have stated it, but the amount of people who go along to these things and then complain about not being able to see or hear anything is staggering. One poor soul paid over the odds to see Lou Reed play in Wembley. He was given a seat in row Z and still carries the mental scars to this day. Listen people, bands who play in huge arenas like Wembley, Hyde Park or The O2 are only doing it for the money. £60 to see Coldplay is simply God having a laugh at the stupidity of the human race. Do yourself a favour and go and see a local band play in a smaller venue instead.
2. Assholes. If you’re at a gig enjoying a bit of a bop or a gentle head nod and a group of idiots come over right beside you and start acting like assholes don’t just stand there and take it, move! I know, I know, you have fought tooth and nail to get your prized spot right next to the stage where you can gaze up at the band and actually see their nose hair blowing gently in the breeze and you’re not gonna let some drunken morons force you from it. They shout out all the wrong words of the songs, push and barge, talk loudly into their mobile phones and just don’t look aesthetically pleasing at all. You might be tempted to fight for your spot with all your might. Yet all this will do is piss you off and completely ruin the show. It is no slight on your masculinity or femininity to simply move somewhere else that will hopefully prove to be asshole free.
3. Overcrowded venues. People who put on concerts or own venues are usually people who would give capitalist pigs a bad name. They don’t give a fuck about you and your safety. All they want is to squeeze as many bodies as possible into the limited space so they can make the most money they can. Some punters have gone to extreme lengths in these situations in order to get some room. These include utilizing the above ‘Asshole technique’ or not washing for a few days before said concert so that the throng will be more willing to give them some room. Yet, this is a lot of hassle and the last thing you want to remember after attending a concert where your favourite band played the set of their lives is how sticky your pants felt, or how that big guy punched you because you barged into his girl. A much better option is to simply accept and make the most of your situation. Say hello to the people squeezed in next to you. They are in the same situation as you! And, I don’t know about you, but I prefer to know the names of the people who are pressed up against my groin. You never know, you might even become lifelong friends.
4. All-seater stadiums. Nothing says ‘you are going to have a rubbish night’ more than the curse of the all-seater stadium! I once went to see Maximo Park play in one of these venues and my overriding impression was ‘What’s the fucking point?’. You get told off for standing, dancing, knitting, or even looking like you might be having a good time. These types of venues are fine if you like folk music or something like that. Yet, if you are a fan of anything with a bit of crashing guitars or even the hint of a beat then you would be best to give this type of venue a miss.
5. Camera phones. It is one of the saddest parts of modern society that there is a swarm of idiots who think they have to film their every experience or else it will be lost forever. The depressing thing is that they are so busy recording everything that they never really live in the moment and therefore enjoy nothing. Truly it is a sad existence that they live! This doesn’t help if you have paid £20 to see a show and there are a swarm of people holding their camera phones high in the air watching the whole performance via a four inch screen. In a fair society this type of people would be rounded up, tortured and shot. But unfortunately the world in which we live is far from fair. I find that the best way to deal with this type of pest is to move in front of them, and continue in this fashion until you are right at the front of the stage. Good times!
6. Inappropriate touching. So there you are enjoying a bit of a boogie while your favourite band plays. All of a sudden there is a surge and you are faced with wall to wall flesh. Next a sweaty hand stretches out to attack your decency. The best way to deal with this type of pervert is to lean into their ear and scream that you usually expect a fancy dinner and a marriage proposal before you let someone get to second base.
7. Crappy Sound. The band are playing! You can tell this because you can see it with your own eyes. Yet, all your ears can detect is hideous feedback and echoing drones. The group are oblivious as everyone strains to make out a guitar line, a melody, even the thump of a drum. Nothing! There’s nothing much you can do here unfortunately except to pretend you are watching My Bloody Valentine and that this is all part of the show. Either that or have a quiet word with the sound technician asking him to do his fucking job!
So, now you know how to survive most concerts and be able to leave with tinnitus and a smile. Just how nature intended! Please feel free to add advice to this list, or regale us with your own horrifying experiences of crap shows. And here’s to hoping that your next gig is a great one!
| JOHN BITTLES