Thatâ€šÃ„Ã´s what you should expect when you come to a show, interjects the 15-year old girl next to me with pigtails. Or at least thatâ€šÃ„Ã´s what I understand her to say while being assaulted by sneakers and elbows of crowd-surfing pre-teens at the more than disappointing Saves the Day concert last month at the Electric Factory. She felt I was being unreasonable for getting angry that, even during the sappy, slow songs, no one could stand up, much less enjoy the music, without getting trampled, squished, or having kids hurled from every direction. I got to thinking, “Wow, am I too old for this?” After catching a few too many feet to the head â€šÃ„Ã¬ perhaps because I was one of the oldest, hence tallest, people present â€šÃ„Ã¬ I decided that this concert (not show) was perhaps the most unnecessarily violent spectacle of unchecked hormones I have ever been witness to. Since when has the whiney “she left me” type songs of Saves the Day ever been anything to punch a complete stranger about?Once upon a time at concerts there was something called a “pit.” In said pit was where all the violence enthusiasts went to show their enthusiasm about the music. Any amount of punching, kicking, moshing, biting, or whatever, could happen. It was understood that you were to enter at your own risk of that one hugely fat guy crushing you. This was pit etiquette. Most importantly, this was a separate entity from the rest of the concert space with only mild spill over. Everyone elseâ€šÃ„Ã´s concern was only to push along the occasional crowd surfer. At this last show, the “pit” consisted of the entire downstairs of the Electric Factory. For someone who likes to stand, tap her foot, and occasionally sing along, like myself, the inescapable punching, pushing, and random moshing just became infuriating. Without invitation, the same girl continues, “If you donâ€šÃ„Ã´t like it, then you shouldnâ€šÃ„Ã´t have come.” Rather than saying something like, “Girly, Iâ€šÃ„Ã´ve been to shows that would have pounded you and your pigtails to bits,” I wondered if this is really what the concert experience has come to.
The last concert I had seen at the Electric Factory had almost been a year ago to the day to see Weezer. And that was a great show. The fan base was a little older, considering Weezerâ€šÃ„Ã´s comeback from the mid-90â€šÃ„Ã´s attracted the 20-somethings as well as the minivans full of high schoolers. The shoving and punching gave way to screaming along and close attention given to the band. Despite the similar music genre and the exact same location, the experience was entirely different. On the few occasions that it got out of hand, at least the crowd knew what songs they were moshing to.
In contrast to the indoor, warehouse type setup, thereâ€šÃ„Ã´s the extremely seasonal outdoor concert. Last summer, the Tweeter Center in Camden had the Y100 Feztival with Weezer as one of the headliners, as well as acts like Pete Yorn, Tenacious D, and the Barenaked Ladies to close. The day long concert had blistering hot weather and lasted from late in the morning until around 10 PM. The ages ranged from pre-teen to mid-thirties, and there was an immense respect for the closing, big name bands. The Barenaked Ladies put on a notoriously amazing show, but this was the first time Iâ€šÃ„Ã´ve seen them, and I was not prepared. Between the acrobatics and the ridiculous lyrics that 80% of the people knew, the audience consolidated and was entranced.
Maybe that girlâ€šÃ„Ã´s use of the word “show” is irked me the most. Iâ€šÃ„Ã´ve seen plenty of real shows, with an audience of maybe 30 people, with bass players that jump on top of you from speakers and lead singers who brandish chicken wire. Those who were fearless enough to actually mosh or form a pit got their $5 worth and usually came prepared with their own earplugs, mouth guards and gauze. Iâ€šÃ„Ã´ve also seen shows where the audience stands completely still and seems to go into a trance as the keyboardist plays the same two notes and the guitarist amplifies 5 minutes of feedback.
After getting mad, I got over it by coming to the conclusion that concert-goers arenâ€šÃ„Ã´t fully enjoying the show once they become too conscious of themselves. The shows that were the most enjoyable for me were the ones that I noticed everyone facing the stage, not each other. Whether itâ€šÃ„Ã´s because youâ€šÃ„Ã´re wondering what you look like, if youâ€šÃ„Ã´re slamming the guy next to you hard enough, or if youâ€šÃ„Ã´re not dancing because no one else is, may I ask, how long did you stand in line waiting to be here?