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.
A while back I posted and article entitled ‘The 8 Worst People To Meet At A Rock Gig’. The response it got was nothing short of overwhelming. In fact it got more hits than all the other articles on this site put together. Clearly I was not alone in my anger at these people.
Since posting I have received a large number of suggestions for other folk who deserved a place in the rogue’s gallery, so I thought it was time for a revisit. So here are five more people who get on our last nerve when we’re trying to watch a band, as voted by you, the people.
5. The Couple
The couple are the guy and girl who try to get as close to the stage as possible despite the fact that the girl is 5 feet tall and about 8 stone. The guy then spends the rest of the gig defending her from incomers who are doing nothing more that enjoying the mosh pit. As I’ve said before, the pit is an inclusive place, but why would you want to spend an entire gig protecting the person you love from physical injury?
I only once found myself in the position of the couple. It was watching the Chili Peppers at Brixton Academy. My tiny girlfriend and I had worked our way through the crowd to a good spot but the second they hit the stage and launched into ‘Suck My Kiss’ the crowd went insane and she went flying. I literally lifted her off her feet and carried her back a safe distance. I’ve never done it again. Why would you?
Extra vilification goes to the couple who spend the whole gig with their lips locked together. Why the hell are you even here?
4. The Farter
How could I have forgotten this guy? A mosh pit is already a place of special fragrance without this guy clouding it up with his toxic storm. Coupled with the fact that inside an airless room full of sweaty people the damn thing can linger for minutes, and the fact that you can’t even usually tell who it was so you have nowhere to direct your hate.
I recently attended a Status Quo gig with my Dad at the O2 in Greenwich. I don’t care what you think, they were great, sadly the old man farts that assaulted my nose throughout were not.
Next time you’re heading to a gig, think carefully about the last few meals you’re having. Other people’s olfactory senses are depending on it.
3. The Protester
“Oh you made a giant banner to show how much you fancy the bass player, that’s cute”. Guess what isn’t cute? Blocking the view of the 15 people stood behind your dullard self. There’s a little something called line of sight and when you raise a large canvas obstruction between me and the stage I CAN’T FUCKING SEE!
The same goes for all you flag bearers. I don’t care if come from Wales, nobody does, you’ve only come to Donnington, it’s not a great feat. The worst of it though is being at a festival when it starts to rain. As the heavens open you’ll suddenly you’ll find yourself surrounded by hundreds of people who’ve never heard of a Pac-a-mac, and instead decided a golfing umbrella was a much more sensible choice. I hope you’re not too attached to your eyeballs.
2. The Bombardier
We’ve all been there. That awful moment at a gig when you get hit by something wet. Was it water? Was it beer? Was it urine? You don’t know, and frankly there’s fuck all you can do about it even if you did.
This is all thanks to The Bombardier. The knucklehead for whom every gig is some sort of Olympic games for cunts. Thanks mate, I really wanted your dregs of beer and spit down the back of my head, and that’s if you’re lucky. I once got caught on the back of the head by a thick plastic glass so hard that it broke the skin (it was at a Biohazard gig so I did my best to style it out). If I wanted to get physically injured at a gig I’m perfectly capable of doing it myself thank you very much. Drop your glass to the floor like a normal person and then preferably leave.
1. The Groper
How can I put this in a way that everyone will understand? If you deliberately feel up a girl during a gig who isn’t your girlfriend or hasn’t given you express permission to do so YOU ARE SEXUALLY ASSAULTING HER!
How was that? Clear enough?
This person was left off the original list because, being a guy, it’s not one I have been a victim of. However it is clearly the most heinous of all the crimes we’ve listed. It shouldn’t even need saying but women have a right to enjoy a gig without being molested by some tragic pervert who thinks they’ll get away with it because of the safety of the crowd.
Sure, sometimes where your hands end up in a mosh pit is pretty much out of your control, but if you wilfully feel up the poor girl in front of you or crowd surfing over you, you deserve to be beaten. Pure and simple.
And if you’re that special kind of asshole whose reaction is “Come on love, I’m just having a laugh”, try to imagine if a sweaty, 6 foot guy came over and grabbed your junk ‘just for a laugh’. Not very funny now is it? Prick!
So there you have it! Have I covered all bases or are there still some bastards out there going unpunished? Let me know.
A few days ago a friend of mine posted this article on her Facebook wall http://louderthanwar.com/blogs/10-reasons-why-rock-is-not-dead. My first response was ‘I didn’t realise anyone thought it was dead’. My second response after reading it was that while it did give a lot of reasons why rock isn’t dead none of them were the intended points of the writer.
Firstly, the article begins with a point about The Stone Roses. The Stone Roses! Now I have nothing strongly against the band but if you think people wanting to hear “She carries on through it all, she’s a waterfall” proves that rock is alive and well you’re way off the mark.
It then goes on to say that Kasabian have been banging on about the death of rock music. Who the merry fuck gives a damn what Kasabian have to say about rock music? Every one of their interviews reads like the worst troll on a message board. Get back to your moderately dancy indie music and shut the fuck up.
Then there’s ‘the death of festivals’ comment. When did this happen? This year I am currently trying to budget so I can see Pearl Jam at Isle of Wight(along with Springsteen and Petty) and Soundgarden at Download. That’s before Sonisphere have even announced their lineup. Although I’m not a major fan of either of them, Download also had Sabbath and Metallica. That’s huge! If some festivals are struggling that’s only because there were approximately 60 gagillion of them last year.
I’m not even going to get started on point 6 (there were only two bands in the 60’s were there? I’m going to check with my Dad on that one) and most of the rest just rehash the point that ‘there’s a lot of rock out there’. But points 2 and 3 talk about how Enter Shikari and Rammstein have sold a load of albums without much exposure, and while I agree in essence with the point the writer is making it also kinda renders the whole article moot.
When I was a teenager there was not internet in every home, no Spotify, no Scuzz or XFM. If you wanted to find out about rock music you had to buy Kerrang! or Metal Hammer and if you wanted to hear it you had to either watch MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball or, if your parents didn’t have cable, Noisy Muthas which was on at 2am on a Saturday morning. Failing that you just had to go out and part with your cash for some singles by bands who looked good,
And I was a teenager in the 90’s. Ask any rock fan who grew up in the 80’s and they’ll tell me I had it good. Still ours was the last generation for whom rock music was at all considered an underground commodity. I used to get called a hippie at school by the ignorant townie twats who still thought a 20 year old reference was the height of sophistication. Then came grunge which made a big dent on the mainstream followed by nu-metal which was, at the time, the heaviest music to have commercial appeal, after that rock never really went away again, and it’s not going to now.
The fact is rock was never about chart success, ever! People who like rock music never tuned into to Top of the Pops to see what was out there. Do you think that AC/DC were concerned about how high their singles charted? Of course not, not when Back In Black is the third highest selling album of all time. At number 2 is Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, just underneath Thriller. Consider the difference in successful singles between Floyd and Michael Jackson and I think you see my point.
I remember once running into the lounge when my Mum announced that ‘one of my bands’ was on Top of the Pops. It was Iron Maiden who had just got to number one with Bring Your Daughter To The Slaughter. It didn’t matter that it was one of the worst songs they had ever written, it was utterly thrilling as that sort of thing never happened. It was a total exception.
There are newer bands on the rise like Bring Me The Horizon and the aforementioned Enter Shikari who are doing something genuinely interesting and different with rock music. I’m not an enormous fan of either, in fact a lot of their music confuses the hell out of me but frankly that’s fantastic. I’m 33, there should be bands coming up that I don’t understand, like I’m sure many 33 year olds didn’t understand Nirvana and the Sex Pistols before that. If I could listen to the new raft of rock bands and be completely comfortable with all of them then something has gone very wrong.
Speaking of bands who I am comfortable with, this year sees the return of Soundgarden, Refused and At The Drive In, all to rapturous applause and only this morning I received an email telling me that Andrew WK’s gig where he’s playing all of his debut album I Get Wet has just been moved to a bigger venue due to overwhelming response. Andrew WK looks like this –
Almost all of his songs are about partying hard.
It would seem that the only people who are worried about the state of rock music are the ones who don’t really listen to it. For the rest of us we know rock isn’t dead, in fact I’m pretty sure it can’t be killed, just look at Ozzy Osbourne.