For anyone living in South Africa, last Thursday morning was greeted with the exciting news that early next year, The Cure will be playing in SA for the first time in their 40-year history.
Excitement was mounting from various people in my life who were all asking the same question… “Are you going?”
I absolutely adore live music. Seeing a band in the flesh is a good litmus test to see whether they can put their money where their mouth is. When they can, you get those once in a lifetime moments like we experienced at Linkin Park. Not sharing my musical interests in any way or form, Mrs Megamalist was promptly informed she would once again have to “do it for love” as I was going to look at getting tickets.
All about that booze, ‘bout that booze, so trouble
I enjoy live music the same way I enjoy listening to vinyl at home – accompanied by a drink or two. However it makes me incredibly sad that so many attendees seem to view these big events as an opportunity to behave in a manner unbecoming, unable to control themselves and hurling abuse at anyone who gets in their way. Excessive booze consumption seems to be the root of all trouble at these shows and it not only reinforces incorrect stereotypes about rock music, but really detracts from the primary reason anyone should actually be attending – appreciation of the band and their music.
As I sat in front of my computer deciding whether my credit card could take the hit, I started thinking of all the concerts we had been to in the last half decade or so.
Soft, hazy, soap opera-style flashback…
Despite the near perfect experience at Linkin Park, we had our first real taste of “crowds behaving badly”. We had lift-clubbed it with friends to the stadium extremely early to avoid traffic, where we sat outside chilling before the show. Of the many people who had the same idea, there were quite a few who were completely hammered by the time the stadium gates opened. I doubt some of them even made it inside to see the band.
Next was Chevelle where a young 20-something girl in front of us slipped and knocked herself unconscious, her head making that watermelon being dropped on concrete sound as her (to paraphrase Pete Loeffler) “face hit the floor”. We watched in horror as her friends dragged her out of the venue by her arms, leaving behind a trail of smudged blood that would have felt at home in a slasher film.
Then there was Foo Fighters. It was our turn to buy a round and Mrs and I missed both opening acts we battled through the crowds in front of the chronically slow and understaffed bar. We returned to our seats to just in time for Dave and Co. to arrive on stage, only for the guy in front of us to throw his drink, followed by whatever else he could find, over the balcony into the crowd below. It would not surprise me at all if someone below us ended up seriously injured.
The hits kept on coming
A few years ago we attended a festival headlined by The Pixies. After a really long and excruciatingly hot afternoon in the sun, all the bars at the venue simultaneously ran out of booze which resulted in mass hysteria. By the time the headliners came out, a large portion of the sobering-up crowd were hurling insults at the stage. It appeared as though the majority were not there to hear an historically significant band.
Two weeks later we were verbally (and almost physically – thank goodness for the railing) assaulted at a Just Jinger / Prime Circle concert. Being a seated venue, most people were adhering to the rule to ensure that people behind them could see the performance. It was just our luck that a completely trollied woman decided that the space right in front of our seats was the allocated dance floor and got aggressive when I (very politely and apologetically, I might add) asked her whether she would move literally two steps to the left so we could see past her.
Next was Live where we then had to endure the people behind us who had managed to smuggle a bottle of whisky into the venue. In their drunken stupor they kept screaming for the band to play Steve Hofmeyer songs.
Our most recent concert was Collective Soul, for which I had bought more expensive tickets to fathom whether blind-drunkenness was linked to the price I had paid. I can’t say for sure, as near us was a guy who spent 90 minutes very, very loudly imploring Ed Roland to remove is hat and sunglasses. Seriously dude – he cannot hear you, but we can and you’re drowning out the music.
Pros and cons
On the one side of the coin, you are hearing music in a live environment, seeing the band in all their glory, accompanied by the spectacle of their stage show – lasers, fireworks and big screens, all coupled with that vibe of the crowd around you – an experience that cannot be recreated without the help of 50,000 other concert-goers. On the other side, because there are 50,000 other concert-goers you have terribly stinky portaloos, ridiculously long queues wherever you go and people who seem to be there for reasons other than the music.
Trading it in for bliss
As I snapped out of my flashback, I promptly packed away my credit card. While I will continue to endure poorly behaved crowds in order to see my favourite bands, I realised that I loved Mrs Megamalist more than The Cure and so would not subject her to another “avoid the drunk people” event. Instead we’ll spend the evening of the concert chilling at home and spinning some vinyl. It might not provide the same amazing vibe, but at least we won’t have to queue for the toilet.
I’d love to hear about your concert experiences. Post a comment below!