Don’t stand so close to me…

I have a routine. When I go to a gig I want to get there early. I will get a drink, empty my bladder, catch the support and, most importantly of all, I’ll find a good spot. Once I have that perfect place I’m gonna stay there hold-fast so I can get that perfect show. Well that’s the plan anyway. Before someone comes and ruins it. We’re not talking about the person who loudly talks all show (Sam can tell you more about them). We’re not talking about the person who will take roughly 100 photos a minute. What annoys me most is a certain type of tall person at gigs.

As soon as the first song starts, some chump will decide that even though they arrived late, they need that good view. Having shoved past a score of rightly annoyed people they’ll turn round to their accomplice, give a little nod and then settle. Pleased with themselves for discovering their spot. Which they stole. From me. Oblivious to the fact that their giant head is not a window. 

The irony is that I was one of those people. I am 6’ 2’’ with fairly broad shoulders, so I can be very good at being a wall. I used to insist on being in the pit of every show so I could get sweaty and push people around, or at least get as close to the stage as possible. And if I turned up halfway through the set? I’d just crowd surf to the front. It’s quicker. Then drop. Right there. In front of all those lovely folks. They don’t mind!

As I have grown older and wiser (and more concerned about my frail joints) I have swung the other way. The days of crowd surfing are behind me. I am overly anxious about blocking others’ views, much to the irritation of my fiance, the person I go to gigs with more than anyone else. She is short. So we’re at a catch-22. Hit the front so she can see great and I’ll block everyone (along with all the fun of being squished against the barrier). Or settle further back, and then have to deal with our friend the tall person finding a perfect spot right in front of her. 

It’s normally at this point in my rant that someone tells me to just talk to the person. Like a reasonable human being. That sort of confrontation sends my social anxiety into overdrive. Plus I shouldn’t have to. People should just be aware of other people. We’re literally less than a foot away. Sometimes I actually work myself up to saying something, and in these cases I am normally just am greeted with a shrug. Like it is beyond comprehension. And then I feel even shittier. 

There is no system that will fix this. It is definitely too much to force people to line up in height order so everyone can see. Believe it or not, I would like to stay with my friends at shows, not just those equally gifted with ability to smash their heads on door frames. Some venues make life a lot easier. My favourite venue Brooklyn Steel has a real nice slope, plus it has some extra ledges so everyone can get a view. Most venues are not like this (I’m talking to you Terminal 5, you big flat box of crap venue that good bands play at so that I have no choice but to attend!). Really it falls on other gig goers to be considerate. But hey. I don’t trust people. As a population we’re destroying the planet at the expense of our very own children, so I do not expect any rando to be doing me favours at a show. So I’m gonna just keep grumbling and occasionally mutter something under my breath. I guess this is karma.

Words by Matt Paul

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