Saturday, 28 February 2009

Don't Dance On My Boots And Tell Me You're Raving

I went to a Nine Inch Nails concert on Wednesday and even though Wednesday is not usually considered the ideal night to cut loose and get down it was still amazing.

There seemed to be a certain amount of confusion amongst elements of the crowd on the function of doors and how you need your ticket and ID to get through them and into the licensed area so we were still standing outside when the support band started up.
Well, the support two dudes.
The support band – Jaguar Love – was… wait a second, I just want to savour the name Jaguar Love… Jag-uar Looove… Heh heh heh… OK, no I’m back.
The support band Jaguar Love was supposed to feature three people but one of the guys, I’m guessing the drummer, was mysteriously missing. So it was a very brave guitarist working through his set, the haunted keyboard playing some backing electronica all by itself and the singer going completely batshit insane with his hair in his eyes so he didn’t have to see where he was going or what he was doing. He did have a rather impressive vocal range though, no idea what he was saying but he could say it in a range of tones.

After our two-thirds serve of Jaguar Love had vacated the stage and we were waiting for the main event to begin one of the people I went with decided to pass the time by having a self-indulgent quasi-elitist grumble to his partner, my mate R, that half the people there wouldn’t know which album any of the songs had come from and had probably started listening from With The Teeth and had never bothered to check out the back catalogue.
As I am one of those people who is hard pressed to put song to album I ignored this with my usual good grace, waited for the lights to dim again and then just listened to Trent Reznor straining and hating and emoting and hoping like a professional.
And it was great.

The band was a well-oiled note-remembering machine, Trent put on an excellent performance and I am reliably informed that he spoke more to the audience in that one night than at many of the previous concerts combined, and the atmosphere was excellent.
Except for this one dude who seems to have gotten lost and apparently accidentally bought a ticket thinking this was the city’s most expensive rave party.
And he stood right in front of us.
Well I say stood.
It was more an explosion of syncopated elbows and knees than anything else.
I will never have that guy’s level of rhythm or coordination but I also hope that I never have that many people hoping that I either bugger off or quietly OD and fold up into a much less obstructive heap on the floor.
By virtue of his much lauded elbow-action he was taking up the space of five people and made it dangerous to attempt to stand still and impossible to see the band.
He definitely appeared to be enjoying himself but I got the distinct impression he would have enjoyed himself just as much if the two of you were standing in a deserted warehouse and you had kept pulling the string on a soft toy that played Pop Go The Weasel. Or even if you’d got bored, ditched the soft toy and bunked off for a beer, leaving him in silence.
What’s the point in that, fella?
Couldn’t you think of something else to spend the ticket price on?
For instance, more drugs as you were obviously somewhat enhanced already.

After a short amount of time and several near misses with the elbows I took life by the ho-jos and just pushed in front of him. If he managed to hit me in the back of the head I vowed that things would go badly for him but he seemed to be capable of avoiding that which was in front of him, just not that to his rear or sides.
That left the people behind me to deal with him but it’s every person for themselves in the concert world and given I’m a maximum of 5 foot 2 in flats I tend to be a bit more mercenary than some about this rule. I have to use all my swaying and jumping and toe balancing skills to get a good view and that’s when things are going my way.

Luckily partway through proceedings two girls, to whom I shall remain forever indebted, started making out right next to me and suddenly I was in the centre of a circle of men standing very still and staring and I could finally see the band without having to jump up and down. Thanks ladies!

The lessons I learned from this particular concert are fourfold:

  • Next time I see any gig at Festival Hall I will be on the balcony - the vertically challenged must seek out high ground!
  • Support acts are very gutsy - standing up in front of a crowd who is there to see someone else and putting on your best performance (I assume) when missing a band member has got to take chutzpah.
  • Guys who have waited years to see their favourite band will still completely ignore it just to watch two girls kiss.
  • Nine Inch Nails put on a phenomenal live show.

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