May 12, 2010

To Be Heard and Not Seen

What's the point of paying $50 to attend a concert that you cannot see?

Where the security guards block you from entering the VIP section, bring you down from your illegal perch, and do not prevent other attendees from bumping into, spilling onto, or generally molesting you?

Where the best view is from behind the bar, behind a row of top shelf liquor and a box of M&Ms?

I got a sliver of a view tonight at the Massive Attack show at Terminal 5, a shit venue with generally a good enough line-up to force concert-goers to put up with its crappy sightlines. If I stood on my tiptoes, beyond the bar I could make out the distant faces of Martina Topley-Bird and Horace Andy, and squint through the quotations, political statements, and headlines that scrolled across the screen behind the band.

I wondered why I bothered going to the concert at all, spending $50 I could not afford, to barely see anything and listen to the live music muffled by the mezzanine above and practically drowned out by the chatter of the bar-dwellers surrounding me.

I wondered why I bothered going to any concerts at all, ever, unless I could get VIP access like my fellow music industry peers. They're almost always a disappointment when experienced from the perspective of a mere fan.

But when presented the opportunity to see a band I listened to in London in 1995, a watershed year in my life, a band who hasn't toured in four years and whose new record is actually quite good, I couldn't turn it down. It was a scene I wanted to be a part of, a scene I almost immediately hated as soon as I was a part of it.

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  1. are you particularly short? maybe show up early and get a place on the floor near the stage? luckily im tall and i try to let people shorter than me get around or stand to the side, but im sure its still pretty annoying

  2. I'm short but it kind of doesn't matter in that venue. Upstairs you can only see if you're right on the railing. The closer I got to the stage on the floor, the less I could see. I literally tried every available inch of that venue (including crouching on the floor and watching through the balcony's mesh railing) and behind the bar was the best I could do.

  3. What can I say... I see your point, the place was packed pretty tight and the sound was eh. But I was one of the ones right way up front and went deaf in 10 mins though. Forget seeing anything, now I can't hear! Serves me right for being that close to the subs.

  4. that sucks, sounds like your only option in the future is to find some way to be right in front of the stage (which sadly means showing up 3 hours early) that or some SERIOUS platform shoes :p

  5. good point, I agree that Terminal 5 absolutely sucks. meanwhile, let me share MY experience:

    I was there for Tuesday night's show, in the center front, 4 or 5 lines away from the stage.
    I am a 5' 10" female and I got SERIOUSLY physically and verbally harassed (as in, I was called amazingly nasty names and got PUNCHED in my kidneys!) by an asshole guy & his equally asshole girlfriend and another bitch friend of his --all of them who were substantially shorter than I... interestingly, they had absolutely no problem with bunch of men who were even taller, standing in the same row next to me... most likely because they KNEW they couldn't possibly pull off anything like that on those men.

    I hate to say it; but short people sometime need to SUCK IT UP. I understand that it blows not being able to see shit, but that doesn't mean I cannot watch the show from where ever the hell I please, as I ALSO paid $50 just like everyone else. and it certainly doesn't give ANY rights to short people to act like complete assholes and to harass or discriminate anyone because they are taller than them.

  6. totally agree. One of the reasons I had such a hard time at that show was the behavior of the people on the floor, who pushed, shoved, spilled their way through the crowd regardless of where they were standing.

    Your experience sucks and is especially indicative of the pervasive mistreatment - and unequal treatment - of women in this society and in this city.

    Hope you were able to enjoy the show despite your surroundings...