Why I may be too old for concerts [a soapbox]

Why I don’t take concert photos

I love live music. I love the deafening sound, the energy, the excitement of a jumping crowd. I didn’t get into live music until I was in college. I still remember the first concert I went to (Ben Folds) and sitting there awe struck at the raw talent blasting lyrics and melodies my way. I became hooked and made a point to see performances of my favorite bands.

When I moved to Portland in 2009, single and soul-searching, I happened to go to a Passion Pit concert at the Crystal Ballroom (before they were so widely well known). I remember the feeling of the floor bouncing beneath my feet, the all-encompassing surround sound of music and the feeling of being alive. Fast forward to last night when I returned to the Crystal Ballroom to see Grouplove and Mr Ms. The bands were great – they had awesome energy and played a mix of their newer stuff with hits that everyone knew. But it was a completely opposite experience and started me thinking on whether I am too old for this live music concert stuff. Let me explain why.

I might gander that when I first started going to concerts I was the same as the list of annoyed concert-goers below, but I’d be lying. Most concerts I went solo, and if I had company, it was usually less than five. I rarely ever took photos except the one to earmark another concert down (my phone never seemed to take great photos, so I didn’t try), and I don’t do PDA. I don’t know if I’ve changed or the crowd around me has – but here is a list of my top annoying concert goers and why they are ruining live music.

The PDA Couple
They are always there – either right in front of you (usually) or right behind. They seem oblivious to the loud music and throngs of people around them and only have eyes (and hands) for each other. They make out, grind unnecessarily, and do it all right in front of my face. Gross people. I get affection and sexual attraction – just not in what is a highly crowded concert venue. Go elsewhere.

The Train of Friends
Most of the venues in Portland try to please both the over and under 21 crowd – meaning they have to segment the venue in two so as to provide an ID checkpoint. This typically means the over 21 section is way more crowded and likely to smell like a frat house on a Sunday morning. You find a spot, beer in hand. There’s enough room between you and the people in front so that you don’t feel intrusive, yet not a large enough space that necessarily welcomes newcomers. In come the Friend Train – a group of 5+ people holding each other in various spots to weasel their way through the crowd. They squeeze into your comfortable space and as you make room (thinking there’s just one), they all start to go the same way – directly in front of you. Not just one, nope – five or more all securely linked and being a royal pain in my ass. Can’t wait for them to come back with full beers. I relinquish my comfortable space and edge closer forward creating uncertain boundaries between me and the dude a foot taller than me straight ahead.

The Douche
Let’s just say for a moment that the false sense of space I have is not a thoroughfare. I relax. I can see the stage and start enjoying the concert. Then there comes The Douce – the person (usually male) looks like he’s making his way through the crowd but then stops – directly in front of me. And all of a sudden, he no longer looks like he’s on the move. To add insult to injury, his 6’2″ stature just obstructed my 5″6′ view.

The Douche + Friends
Insert situation above but now The Douche waves over his girlfriend or group of friends (Watch out for the Friend Train!) to come join him in his newly staked out spot. This situation quickly worsens if girlfriend and him become PDA.

The Loner on their Phone
Concert tickets are not cheap. I am very specific about who I will and won’t go see in concert. With ticket fees and whatever other fees they tack on – it’s hard to not get a ticket for <$40 a person. That’s why I don’t understand the people who pay the price, attend, then sit down on the sidelines and remain glued to their phone all night. Sure, they’re out of my way, but they make no sense. Go home.

The Amateur Videographer / Photographer 
I love technology. I love it so much I work in it all day. I love the iPhone and it’s function as a camera. What I dislike is trying to see the stage around The Douche and instead see a sea of lit up screens trying to capture what really should be remembered in memory. Some people even try to record whole songs! Come ON people! That video is going to be shit, the audio shit and your memory of the whole thing encapsulated in your shit video! Put the phone away and enjoy the freaking concert!

The Over 21 Crowd
Okay – I realize that by now I am starting to sound like a real wench who dislikes everyone at concerts. That’s not true. My last category in fact shines a better light on an otherwise negative stereotype. The over 21 crowd section sucks. One, they always spill beer on you. Two, they always have a beer in their hands so they NEVER clap, dance or move. I would love to see what the over 21 section looks like from the stage because from my measly 5’6″ perspective, it looks LAME. That said, the place to be is over in the under 21 crowd. One – they don’t spill beer on you, Two – they are generally smaller (so Friend Trains and tall blokes standing in front of you is less of an issue), Three – the crowd tends to be less in #’s, so there’s more room and you can get closer to the stage, and Four – even if some tweens are making out, at that age it’s kinda endearing (note – I have yet to experience aforementioned PDA levers in this crowd). And lastly – they are actually there for the music. They have a great energy, they dance, they clap, they cheer… in my life if I am ever to hang out with 18 year olds, it will be at a concert.

And there you have it – my curmudgeonly take on why I may be too old for concerts.


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