Disconcerted By Concerts

Written c. November 2003.

There used to be a time when you could pay a small fortune to escape to a world where rules and etiquette were abandoned for a momentary lapse of reason. The purchasing of a concert ticket was your boarding pass to an Elysium where commonsense was lost and the gauche could roam free. You could alight in a Neverland of decay and decadence that your preceding generations would classify as riff raff. The disintegration of this world has been swift and decisive.

When Robbie Williams announced his return to Australia earlier this year, I was bursting with enthusiasm. I had seen him in November 2001 and was amazed by his showmanship and the contagious energy of his fans. The dancefloor of the Entertainment Centre hadn’t seen such acrobatics and movement since the Moscow Circus had visited in the 80s. It was a matrix of energy, excitement and musical appreciation. I yearned for more.

The live music milieu perhaps reached its zenith that night as the ensuing experiences have seen my world encroached upon by interlopers with their newfangled ways of enjoying live music. I had to divert my attention away from a repining Chris Martin to tell two girls to stop jabbering during Coldplay’s most recent concert – a bellwether for the disenchantment that would accompany his countryman’s performance last Saturday.

The first tickets to sell out at any concert are what promoters call “General Admission”. This pleasant euphemism for dancefloor was introduced to disguise the wrath associated with moshing that arose following the 2001 Big Day Out. In the days of hallroom shows, these tickets were extremely limited and accessible only to the truest of fans. Those with the enduring patience to queue outside a ticket box overnight or the applicable Internet perspicacity required to achieve such a prize. The movement of a performance to a stadium opens up this vertical forum to virtually anyone, however, allowing the most casual of fans access to this hallowed ground without any naturally limiting factors.

Why can’t I push in front? Why can’t I sing along at the top of my voice? Why can’t I jump up and down and swing and sway to my repressed heart’s content? Why I can’t I yell out songs I want played? and hiss when Simon Le Bon announces Duran Duran will now song a new song – one that nobody knows from an album that no-one will buy – rather than a classic 80s track? Why should I care about the short people who can’t see or the robust that can’t manoeuvre? Why can’t I forge my way through the crowd in search of the like minded, telling the girl who headbutted my elbow that this is my Pianosa and I have the power to do whatever you don’t have the power to prevent?

The only solution to this epidemic is the bifurcating of the dancefloor into two disparate groups. We need to deracinate the undesirables, segregate esoterically – to the betterment of all. To the left can be the adoring couples spending a romantic evening together, the teenage girls more concerned with aesthetics than music and the gallimaufry of anyone not in agreement.

In the right is me.

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