Over the years I’ve probably been to over 3,000 concerts and musical events. I did so as a promoter, as a radio personality or journalist, as a marketeer or record label representative, as crew, occasionally as a performer and most especially as a fan.
They’ve included basements in New Brunswick and dives like Connections and Ding Batz in Clifton, NJ; world famous holes in the wall like CGBGs, Coney Island High and the Stone Pony; mid-sized notable venues like Irving Plaza, Birch Hill and the Trocadero; intimate midsized rooms like the War Memorial, Town Hall and Merkin Hall, classic ballrooms like Roseland, Hammerstein and the Electric Factory; sheds like Garden State Arts, Jones Beach and the Meadows; major concert halls like the Bushnell, Avery Fisher and NJPAC; arenas like Brendon Byrne, Madison Square Garden and the Rock in Newark and even stadium shows like the Meadowlands as well as open lot shows on the Asbury Boardwalk, Raceway Park and Randals Island. There’s many more ranging from New England down to Maryland as well as those from my trips to places like LA and Austin over the years.
It’s ranged from unknown bands making their debut performances to platinum selling artists headlining; from local bands playing for local crowds to multinational artists that draw audiences traveling from all over; playing everything from one-time only performances, to the show just being another stop on a tour, to participating in major festivals.
There was everything from unrehearsed punk bands to exquisitely trained orchestral musicians; from freestyle hiphop and small jazz combos improvising their way through to highly choreographed arena rockers or expertly produced opera; from mosh pit producing thrash metal to rowdy dancehalls filled with big band tunes to the library like atmosphere of a ballet.
Over the years I saw a lot of what there is to see at a concert behavior wise. Particularly in the metal, punk and hardcore genres where I by far and away spent the most of my musical time. There’s an extremity of stuff that goes on, some of which borders on the cliche at this point: concussions, broken bones and bloodied faces and that’s just in a standard push pit, not even the really artistic takes on hardcore dancing that result in the creatively spastic display of flying limbs where the elasticity of yoga meets the brutality of the marshal arts that if you’re accidentally on the receiving end could knock you into the next century.
Apart from the handful of shows that brought out the worst the in scene making it resemble more of gangland than anything else (FSU bros I’m glaring at you) most of the time it’s a supportive community where the fans generally respect and watching out for about one another. Despite the inherent violence of the metal punk and hardcore scenes everyone knows some form of etiquette. If someone goes down in the pit they get picked up. If the pit spills over too far fans will help wall it off so no one gets hurt. If someone steps out of line the crowd steps in to straighten it out. If something happens and the band is made aware of it they take the time to do something like stop the show.
I’ve never personally gotten in a fight at a show and really only witnessed a relative few over the many shows I’ve attended over the years. Verbal confrontations probably happened a little more, mostly alcohol and adrenaline fueled threats, but cooler heads generally prevailed with or without the help of security, the band, concerned pit bosses, etc.
So, when I was attending a concert the other night featuring some alterna-pop female singers I was quite surprised to see ignorant (attempt at) violence rear its ugly head.
The venue was in no way packed to begin with. Sure, there was some crowding at stage front and the associated jostling that goes with it but the crowd was more than navigability by the time you got as far back as the sound booth and fairly sparse beyond it. All things being equal, the subway platforms I experienced on the way to the show were more crowded that the area where we were standing to enjoy the performance.
That’s when some self-absorbed young woman put on a display of gratuitous douchebaggery. Rather than circumventing the small pockets of people who were standing around between sets she decided to push her way through them using her oversized physicality as a means to make space despite the fact there were plenty of places she could have walked without ever making contact with anyone else. It was the kind of ‘I’m more important than you’ attitude that makes travel during rush hour so annoying, but this wasn’t rush hour and there was little need for it. In her bravado she pushed strongly through our little group without an excuse me or pardon me before the physical altercation.
Sure, it’s a concert, there’s bound to be moments where two bodies inevitably intersect, but this was not what occurred. This was a lazy person who didn’t want to walk an extra step or two out of her own way and decided to deliberately and intentionally make a space for herself by pushing past. She thrust her elbow out and stiffened her shoulder to ensure full contact, this wasn’t just simply brushing accidentally past someone. She hit the other person hard enough that it displaced them forcing them to take several stuttered steps to regain balance.
Just so we’re all on the same page here, what she did was, by definition, battery: the use of force against another, resulting in harmful, offensive or sexual contact.
Did she have to go potty so bad that pee was about to run down her leg?
Or, did she need that Korean Fusion burrito that very moment or she would pass out?
Chances are it was she wanted to get another beer or whatever she was drinking. Likely illegally because she certainly didn’t look over 21 despite the soft stench of alcohol wafting from her and her friend.
I can tell you want it wasn’t — it wasn’t a real emergency where she herself was in imminent danger that would have necessitated that kind of shove to get past.
And, she was completely unapologetic about her actions too. There was no attempt at slowing her pace down after making that strong a contact to make sure the person she just ran through was ok. There was not vocalization of an I’m sorry, or excuse me. There was simply the desire to get to wherever she thought she needed to be at that moment at the expense of everyone around her.
Who knows. She wouldn’t have even bothered sticking around long enough after the battery had it not been for the person she hit responding with a confused, “What the Fuck??”
To which this primodonna of a young woman turned around about 10 or 12 feet from us and self-righteously with an outstreched middle finger responded with a very intentional yell back of threatening swears ending with calling the woman she ran down a “bitch.”
Just so we’re on the same page again, that is technically assault: the act of creating apprehension of an imminent harmful or offensive contact with a person.
Both assault and battery are misdemeanors in New York City. They are illegal apart from being downright disrespectful.
Having worn out my patience rather quickly through her ignorance I turned around and responded right back with some choice swears of my own directed at her and her foul mouth and douchbaggy actions. I was probably wrong for having responded as I did rather than a) reporting her actions of assault, battery and potential underage drinking to a bouncer or b) just ignored her. I’m only sorry for having done it in that my response to her less-than-polite actions only served to escalate the situation that was completely avoidable.
Furthermore, I know there are people out there would would say you don’t swear at a lady. Well, she wasn’t acting like a lady and she did slam right into the woman I’m married to with no sense of remorse. If you cannot act respectful you don’t deserve being given respect in return. Generally, I’m supportive of my wife sticking up for herself and handling her own battles, but she seemed rather taken offguard by being accosted and taken aback by the whole thing so I jumped in and came to her defense. It just so happened that the perpetrator was a woman, it could have just as easily been a man, or a space alien and I probably would have instinctively reacted the same way.
So, what does this arrogant young woman do after she instigated this fiasco by rudely running into us and then starting a swearing match? She goes and complains to the security guards and tries to get us thrown out. Because, starting a fight wasn’t immature enough now she has to be a tattle tale too.
Of course, security could see right through her little rouse and although they did come over to clarify the situation the result wasn’t what she was probably anticipating. Witnesses pegged her as being the problem, or at least part of the problem and not some innocent in all of this. She didn’t get her way and we remained at the show which you could tell really upset her. She thought simply by acting like a spoiled brat and then running to the authorities when she was called out for her actions she could have us removed. It doesn’t work that way and she’s lucky she was allowed to remain with the way she handled herself while security was speaking with us.
She’s also lucky she didn’t pull that on someone else. There are a lot of people with less patience than myself and who would have done much worse than a simple tongue lashing response to her actions. We’ve all witnessed when someone steps over a line like she did and the person responding has not problem taking retaliatory actions.
She’s still young and probably thinks she’s invincible. Hopefully she learns the lesson through maturity and not through violence (although, I have my doubts).
She couldn’t just leave well enough alone and from across the venue looked for any way to goad a further reaction from us. Being both sober and more mature I just let her stew in her own anger at having been called out on her bullshit. As the show went on, we just went back to focusing on the musicians we came to see and not on the drama she was so set on causing.
But, this is world we live in now. One where patently shitty acts are done by people who wish to take no responsibility for what they’ve done and then cry about the consequences their actions produce. Sadly too, it ruins great performance experiences for everyone, be it actions like her physically assaulting someone because she’s too lazy understand only one human being can occupy any given point on the space time continuum at any given time, or the people who spend the show on their cellphone creating aural and visual distractions to those around them (like the people next to us that were in love with their selfie stick), or the people who find other unique and innovative ways to waste their time and money as well as everyone else’s time and money around them by disrupting the show and ruining the experience of live music.
Of the 3,000 or shows I’ve been to this isn’t the way I normally want to remember an evening of music and it only takes one person to ruin the experience. I should be remembering the night for coming up with the awesome idea to do emoji music videos to Slayer songs, or the crazy dancing dude with the prime spot in front of the sound board, or the fact that the downpours held off and we had a great sunset.
You’re probably thinking, but it’s this a rather petty post to make?
… so yeah, it very well might seem that way except this is the type of behavior that has occurred several times in the last several weeks and as the adage goes, was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Since the blog is my place to vent, that’s exactly what I’m doing.