Category Archives: Rants

Safe Gigs for Women

Somewhere back in the mists of time I wrote this article. It was a ranty yet lighthearted list of the people who get on my nerves at gigs, from the talkers to the fuckers who watch the entire show through the screen on their phone. It got a pretty overwhelming response  (thanks, in no small measure, to a reposting on the Roadrunner Records Facebook page), plus it also prompted readers to suggest offenders who I may have missed. Prompting me to start compiling a second list for later publication.

In the interim between articles, my girlfriend at the time went to see a band with her sister. At some point in the night she was groped by an arsehole in the crowd. On confronting him she was greeted with the usual “I was only ‘aving a laugh darlin'” sort of response that has sadly become so expected from this type of prick. So she threw her drink at him, at which point he pushed her quite hard, and if it wasn’t for the intervention of his slightly less meat-headed friends, I dread to think where it would have ended up.

Guess what landed the number one spot on my second article?

I was supposed to be at the gig with her that night but was feeling unwell so stayed at home. I was beside myself with anger and guilt that I wasn’t there to protect the woman I loved, and to this day I regret not being there to punch that little weasel in the face.

But that is not the point.

A woman should not need a burly protector in order to enjoy a band. In the same way that she shouldn’t have to dress conservatively or stay sober. And what this highlighted to me personally is how easy it is to enable sexist behaviour through ignorance. Let me explain.

Firstly, I sincerely hope that everyone who reads my humble blog thinks it’s wrong to feel up an unwilling female at a rock gig. If you don’t then please leave…have they gone?….good. I’m sure you were all appalled by the behaviour of the ‘gentleman’ in the above story, and would have been apoplectic if that happened to your friend or partner. I was livid. Beyond livid. I wanted to strangle the fucker to death….and yet I had recently written a list of eight types of people I considered to be the top ‘persona non grata’ of a rock concert, and he wasn’t on there.

Why? Well two reasons. Firstly, I am a 6’3″ tall man who, despite truth to the contrary, looks a bit scary. The closest I’ve come to getting sexually assaulted at a rock show is accidentally getting elbowed in the bollocks in the moshpit of a Wildhearts gig once. The article I wrote wasn’t ‘The 8 Worst People To Meet At A Rock Gig’ as much as it was ‘MY 8 Worst People To Meet At A Rock Gig’.

The second reason is really the main point of this article (see, I do reach the point eventually), and that is that most of us have a tendency to assume that everyone else follows the same moral compass that we do. Sure we know there are rapes and murders and wars but we like to think (or maybe ‘hope’ is the better word) that the person next to you in the supermarket, the bar, or the gig, is generally decent. It’s this thinking that probably prevents us all from being hopeless agoraphobics. Terrified of the outside world. I assume that the person next to me at a gig wouldn’t grab a strange girl’s behind for no other reason than ‘it’s a bit of a laugh’ because I know I would never do that, and as a result it has made me blind to the fact that it does go on. A lot!

Through my incredible female friends I have had my eyes opened to the sort of shit women put up with on a day to day basis. It is through them that I have gone from being someone who respects women to someone who proudly labels themselves a feminist (it turns out there is a massive difference). One of those friends has recently launched an awesome campaign called Safe Gigs For Women which aims to bring greater awareness of the sort of acts mentioned at the start of this article. One point she brings up again and again is this is not about separating the sexes (like some sort of junior school disco), it is about uniting everyone who thinks this sort of behaviour is unacceptable as this is the best way to filter out the small but persistent element that’s trying to ruin it for the rest of us.

So, if you believe that gigs should be a unifying and inclusive place for people of both sexes to enjoy then click on the logo below, share your stories, show your support, and let’s help make the mosh pit a more beautiful place.

1966221_10152827246547373_7676150316219832747_o

Advertisements

The Strange Psychology of Internet Complaining

Let me start by asking you a question. Have you ever written a review anywhere that began with words akin to these –

‘I never usually write reviews but this was so terrible…’

You have? In which case sir or madam, it’s my sad duty to inform you that you are an asshole. Wait, stop punching me, let me explain…

There’s nothing wrong with complaining per se. Without constructive criticism nothing would ever improve. If your hotel carpet had CHUDS living under it or they reversed the brake and the accelerator pedals on your car or your iPod will only play Coldplay then you’re absolutely right to complain and inform the public so they may make an informed decision. But that’s not my point.

OK, here’s a decidedly anachronistic example, but hell, I don’t know what kids are listening to these days (Jungle or something right?). Anyway, so you’re a Metallica fan, Master Of Puppets absolutely changed your life, Ride The Lightening made you want to learn the guitar, you even loved that one without a bass player on it.

Poor old Jason Newsted

Poor old Jason Newsted

Then they release The Black Album. “What the fuck is this?” you cry. “Where’s the speed? Where’s the aggression? Is Lars actually getting worse at the drums?”.  So you take to your computer and you write a sternly worded critique of this terrible new album and the sell outs that Metallica have become.

But wait, I’m assuming you’ve already written lovely reviews of their other albums right? The world definitely knows about your passion for Call Of Chtulhu doesn’t it? Or how the bass solo in Orion brought a tear to your eye, yeah? Because if not that pretty much makes you THE WORST FAN IN THE WORLD!

Imagine that in real life. Say you did peerless work for a company for 10 years without a word of praise from your boss only to be chewed out in public when you turned in a slightly shoddy presentation. It would suck right? Even if the boss then took you aside and told you he’d actually always loved your work up to that point, you’d feel pretty hard done by.

"Oh and another thing, Nothing Else Matters totally rocks"

“Oh and another thing, Nothing Else Matters rocks!”

The problem is two fold. Firstly the anonymity of the internet means that anyone can spout their bile without much fear of reprisal. But the second is a far more human problem, and that is that we’re far more likely to get vocal when something is bad than if it’s good. When we’re happy we don’t need to get anything off our chest. Our lives continue on the same happy course, uninterrupted. It’s only when we’re vexed, when something hasn’t gone as we had hoped, that we feel the need to shout about it, and that’s a real shame.

I’m willing to bet that the average Westerner has more things go right during an average week than go wrong. I bet the trains were mostly on time, that your lunchtime sandwich was tasty and enjoyable, that your pot dealer turned up when he said he would. But we don’t notice those things because we expect them, we think we’re entitled to them.  Ask a person what they remember most about the past week and they’ll probably list all the things that went wrong. If you read my teenage diary you’d think I was a terribly miserable kid. I wasn’t, I was a pretty damn happy teenager, I just only wrote in my diary when stuff pissed me off.

'Dear Diary. My Dad thinks U2 are better than Pearl Jam. I can't live under these conditions!'

‘Dear Diary. My Dad thinks U2 are better than Pearl Jam. I can’t live under these conditions!’

It has become a cliche that the internet is for moaning, but it doesn’t have to be. We can change that! Next time you stay in a lovely hotel, get on Trip Advisor and write a review. The next time your favourite band writes an awesome song, shout about it on Amazon. The next time you play a video game that isn’t crippled by a terrible multiplayer platform, go tell everyone on whatever message board it is you lurk on. Who gives a shit if Kanye acted like a dick in another interview when Sleater Kinney released the best album of their career this year?

There is so much beauty and wonder and joy to be found in the world, lets get sharing that, not bitching about all the bad stuff. Wouldn’t that make the internet a more wonderful place?