When I was a youth I never experienced Gig Rage. I merrily moshed and keenly got crushed at the front of the stage, gazing adoringly at the sweating musicians in front of me – invariably kept from my grasping hands by a metal barrier and a four foot ‘moat’ populated by large-bellied, tattooed bruisers in black with laminated passes and impressive looking ear-pieces – who, on a hot night, would hurl water at me and occasionally pull out a swooning girl whose knickers we always saw as she was dragged over the barrier like a rag doll.
Then as I got gradually older, my Gig Rage began, and then became incrementally worse and worse as I, over the years, moved further and further from the stage. It started with the cigarette burns. In the olden days, when we all had wooden teeth and rickets, we were allowed to smoke indoors. This meant that while you were squashed in the hot, damp confines of a hall full of thrashing people, all those smokers created an atmospheric fug of haze through which you were able to occasionally glimpse the band. The band was also smoking in those days. It was cool. What wasn’t cool was leaving a gig with several cigarette burns up your arms, usually one somewhere on your face, and invariable one on the top of your foot. Wearing synthetic fabrics to gigs in those days would mean taking your life into your hands. The risk of going up in flames was very real – unless of course you were drenched with other people’s sweat, water from the bouncers up front, the cans of piss that were thrown at the band and other people’s lager. In which case you were safe from combustion – and also from any kind of sexual encounter.
I hated the cigarette burn thing. I swore at anyone who waved a lit cigarette anywhere near me, not really getting into the ‘spirit’ of the thing admittedly. I’m quite glad they banned smoking at gigs – although it does mean that they just smell of farts and body odour.
A close second to random cigarette burns is the ‘Tall Man’. Are you that man?? About six foot seven and nearly as wide across – you bulldoze your way in and stand right in front of me, or the shortest group of people you can find, and completely obliterate the view. Stand at the back you asshole!! You could probably still see the stage from the car park. You are selfish, and stupid, and annoying – and put that bloody cigarette out!!!
As I get older I can tolerate Tall Man even less. I’m not keen on the lager sloshed down the back of my neck either – but plastic glasses are ridiculously unstable and infinitely upsetting when you’ve paid £5 for a pint of lager which is like weak wee-wee, and then your plastic ‘glass’ wriggles in your hand and spills most of its contents into somebody’s handbag/shoe/hood.
But my Gig Rage really started to get out of hand when I moved nearer to the bar and further from the stage, because I was getting old and embarrassed and annoyed by Tall Man at the front. The trigger for my GR in this zone was ‘People Who Talk Through The Quiet Songs’. So you’re trying to listen to a beautiful song that the wise and lyrical man/woman on stage is singing, hoarse with emotion on a darkened stage. He or she has spent hours crafting this sublime melody, and writing lyrics from a soul bared and open and scarred. It’s a song about beauty, or pain, or lost love, or found love, or societal inhumanity, or joy, or their mum, or something – and the crowd is maintaining a respectful peace and being carried along by the sheer wonder of this person’s talents – but all I can hear is Loud Girl and Drunk Man talking incessantly all the way through it. Why bother buying a ticket? Why bother showing up at all? Loud Girl and Drunk Man – you’re not listening. You don’t care. You have no damned soul. You are talking absolute drivel which you could, if you wanted, share with each other at home, in the pub or in the taxi – or possibly in the ER waiting room WHICH IS WHERE I AM ABOUT TO PUT YOU!!! It’s agonising. It’s rude. It’s breaking every gig rule. Now, I’m no puritan – lord knows I was thrown out of a jazz gig once by a group of Tony Soper jumper wearing men with beards because I asked the barman for a drink in a loud whisper in the middle of a double bass solo. But you know, just shut up. Shut up in the quiet songs. Loud Girl and Drunk Man, you don’t belong here. You should have your heads put on spikes over the bar as a warning to everyone else.
See? The Gig Rage is escalating isn’t it?? Initially I was a bit annoyed about a cigarette burn or two but now I’m advocating homicide. I haven’t finished. My Gig Rage goes out of control these days. Because these days, when I go to a gig, now fully at the back because I’m old and have a dodgy back, I can’t see the stage. I pay squillions of pounds for my ticket, and within minutes I am ripping peoples’ throats out and tearing off limbs because I can’t see. It’s not because of Tall Man. He’s by the stage in front of a four foot two girl called Cheryl who is trying to get a view of the stage through a small gap just below his scrotum. No, I can’t see because I am blinded by a sea of bright blue square lights held aloft, as every bloody bugger holds their mobile phone up in the air to take blurred pictures of silhouettes and coloured lights or to make shonky, crappy little films with appalling sound to put onto YouTube or Facebook or Twitter. That’s it. I have to watch the entire gig through somebody’s mobile phone screen. You – you and your mobile phone – USE YOUR EYES!!! Watch the show through your own eyeballs. It’s amazing. it’s real life. Stick your bloody mobile phone up your jacksy and watch the damned gig!! Then, hey, I can watch the gig too. Mobile phones should be banned from gigs – full stop. At some point everyone will be pointing their mobile phones at me and filming me pummelling someone to a pulp, with froth at the corner of my mouth and rolling eyes. It will be posted on the internet and everyone will call me a dickhead.
I don’t go to gigs much any more. But on the occasion that I do, I wear a muzzle and a straight jacket and I’m usually taped to a sack truck at the back.