I’ve been going to rock shows for thirty years. Over the years, I’ve seen maybe a hundred and fifty shows in outdoor sheds, arenas, small theaters, and dive bars. At most of the shows I’ve seen, there’s always that one guy. You know the guy I’m talking about. At my first Rush concert in March 1988, a drunk kid who couldn’t have been more than fifteen decided that it would be a good idea to stagger up to the tenth row and crowd between my friends and I as the band was performing “Tom Sawyer.” We asked him to go back to his seat. He refused, so we pushed his narrow ass back into the aisle. End of dispute.
At another Rush show in 2002, my wife and I were sitting about six rows from the stage. Before the show, I noticed a guy sitting six or seven seats to our right. He was downing beers like it was Prohibition Eve. The drunker he got, the more he started messing with people in front of him, poking them, trying to convince them of his comedic genius. People laughed at him for a while, but when he didn’t stop, they began to get annoyed. This continued throughout most of the show. I thanked my lucky stars that this guy was leaving us alone…until Rush started playing their Grammy-nominated instrumental “YYZ.” At this point her made his way down the aisle toward my wife and I, and inserted himself between us. I asked him to go back to his seat. He refused, insisting that the seat was his. At this point, I moved him past my wife toward his seat. He turned around to face me, and bumped his chest into me, attempting to get past me. He was about 5’7″, maybe a hundred and sixty pounds. I’m six-foot, two-thirty. Before I could even process what had just happened, my hands shot out, and I shoved him. He went ass-over-teakettle back toward his seat, and was eventually escorted from the concert.
On Friday, March 13, 2015, I took my daughter Riley, along with her friend Jansen, to see southern rock band Blackberry Smoke at the Old National Center in Indianapolis. I purchased priority passes, which would allow us early entry into the venue, a standing-room-only affair in the Egyptian Room. We arrived about two hours before the doors opened. There were maybe twenty-five people in line in front of us. I knew that we would end up close to the stage, and was excited that the kids would get to see a great band so close up.
When we finally got into the Egyptian Room, we placed ourselves just a bit to the left of center. There was a row of people in front of us leaning on the barrier that separated the audience from the stage. We were ten feet from the stage. The first of two opening acts came on stage at 8pm, played a few songs, and was followed by a band called The Temperance Movement. The lead singer was very energetic, and everyone seemed to be enjoying the show…everyone, that is, except for a guy in front and a couple of feet to the right of us. Suddenly, he began pointing and gesturing to the lead singer, and it wasn’t to congratulate him on his fine performance. The guy’s girlfriend immediately got in front of him, because it appeared that he was going to jump the barrier and go after the lead singer. The girlfriend spent the rest of The Temperance Movement’s show trying to talk some sense into her boyfriend. I’m not sure what the singer did to draw the guy’s ire, but I am certain that the guy was drunk and acting like a dickhead. ‘There’s one at every show,’ I thought.
As it turned out, there was more than one at this show. Blackberry Smoke took the stage at around 9:45pm. Within about 15 minutes, I noticed a ruckus to my right. There was a little guy, maybe 5’6″, holding his girlfriend’s hand, attempting to push his way to the front of the crowd. He was wearing what looked like a leather biker vest, complete with a top rocker. Turns out it was a Black Label Society vest. En masse and like a well-oiled machine, the crowd pushed and shoved this guy and his lady friend back to where they came from, but not before the guy got in someone’s face for taking his beer. ‘Okay, so there are two at this show,’ I thought.
Wrong again. There were two more instances of what I described above – one to our right and one to our left. Both instances nearly led to fistfights, with drunken idiots being the aggressors in both instances. As if all this wasn’t bad enough, there were two ladies who were so drunk that they could hardly stand up, though through some miracle of physics, they were able to hold each other up.
I realize that not everyone is in agreement on what defines fun, but when you having fun is disruptive to others, potentially puts others in danger, and turns you into an asshole, do us all a favor and stay home. Most of the people at the front of the room waited in the rain for hours before the show, and held their spots up front so that they could enjoy what turned out to be an excellent concert. You, on the other hand, showed up late and thought that it was okay to drunkenly and rudely shove others out of your way to make it to the stage. Try not drinking so much next time. You might be surprised at the good time you have, and you’ll be much less likely to have conflicts with others.
In the interest of transparency, I am a recovering alcoholic. I have been drunk and acted like an asshole many, many times. I don’t have a problem with people who drink in a responsible manner. Turns out, I couldn’t. That’s why I quit drinking in 1996. I will say that I never attended a concert under the influence of anything other than the music. I always figured “Why pay good money to go to a concert and get so drunk I couldn’t remember it?”