Friday, November 13, 2009

This Can't Be The Real World

All American Rejects and Taking Back Sunday - Showcase Live, Foxboro MA, November 11th

For the first time, I'm posting a concert review later than one day after the show. I'm breaking my own writing deadlines. However I haven't gone to sleep yet, so while it is technically Friday I am still awake from Thursday. Also, this is called being a responsible adult and letting BioChem consume my life. Oh Glycolysis. How you were of no use to me to memorize for this exam.

So the show really began outside, in the line. There was a band there with an ipod getting us to listen to their music before the show, which is common, but they brought out a new twist - an acoustic guitar and live performance. Excellent. Their name was Erickson and they weren't bad. Then Tyson Ritter walked by... wait, what? He wandered over to a truck with a microphone and started talking about a new band his label just signed, The Upwelling. Mainly, he just flailed around and then laid down in the middle of the road while babbling through a microphone. Oh, Tyson Ritter.

The first band to play was Anberlin. They were good, they got the crowd loose, and they played some music. I really can't pull anything too specific from their set though. They just... were. I wish I could give you more.

Next up was the All American Rejects. They are awesome live. Not because they sound perfect, and not because their music is some new revolution, but because they just have a damn good time up on stage and the fun is infectious. There was facial glitter and heavy pop songs and a wandering, rambling frontman. At one point, Tyson dragged the microphone to the bar in the back of the room and started singing while downing a beer and swaggering across the bar. He swayed back and forth and commanded us to "Dance, motherfuckers, dance!" He also stripped off his shirt to reveal the fact that he was dripping with silver body glitter. Nick Wheeler, one of the guitarists, just spent the entire night smiling and playing and having fun. They all looked like they were having fun really.

Then I got hit in the temple with a water bottle thrown by Nick during "Real World."

It was actually kind of great though, because the room was super hot and there were people packed in everywhere. It was open and got half of my hair wet, and part of my shirt, and it was the most refreshing part of the night. But it broke me out of the song for the moment, which sucked, because I hadn't heard it before and I love it. I'm probably going to go out and buy this CD because of this song. Seriously, listen to this and tell me it doesn't make you want to simultaneously dance and rebel.

They ended the set with "Gives You Hell," although really, the crowd ended the set. Tyson made us sing the first few lines, then decided we should just sing all of it. He proceeded to spend the rest of the song prancing around on stage and just conducting us through the lyrics while he supplied a word or two for the bridge every now and then. It was pretty awesome.

The last band to play was Taking Back Sunday. I've never been a huge TBS fan, but who doesn't love "Make Damn Sure"? I'm pretty sure everybody in the music world knows this chorus, everybody in my generation has screamed along to this at one point or another, but I don't actually know anything else by them. I'm always up for a new concert experience though, and I was open to it. Also, it's been a long time since I've been in that kind of crowd - there was successful crowdsurfing! I can't remember the last time I saw crowdsurfers actually held up above the crowd, not barely skimming over the heads of tiny scene girls. It was fabulous. A pit also opened up in front of me, and mosh pits always fascinate me. It turned the set into less about the music, and more about a crowd study. And so I give you:

Alex's Short Guide to Mosh Pit Dynamics and Etiquette
(One day I will write out a full long guide to concert crowds, from indie shows to Warped Tour. It's one of those things I'd love to write if only I had the time. Winter break?)

There are three types of people involved in a mosh pit.

1. The first are the actual moshers. These people will be in the middle of the pit, doing the actual jumping and flailing and pseudo dancing. It looks, to the outside observer, like a huge fight, but this is not true! Yes, people are pushing each other, but unless you're at a crazy hardcore show, no one's trying to hurt anyone. There are no punches being thrown, no hitting to injure. They're pushing each other to keep moving, to keep everyone rotating and spinning, and to keep some sort of connection between people. Guys will pull their friends in, sing lyrics at each other, and just generally jump around. Hell, one couple broke into a pseudo swing dance at one point, surrounded by swirling, crazy boys, before lifting the girl up to crowdsurf.

2. The second type of people are what I call the wall. This is a bunch of big guys, and sometimes girls, who stand around the edge of the pit. Their job is to make sure the moshers don't go flying into the crowd, and so they push them back into the fray when they get close to the edges. Now, nobody elects these people, nobody calls them forward, and nobody designates them. It's an unspoken necessity that guys appear for. This is really the part that amazes me. One moment there's no one there and the next a wall has formed to protect the crowd. It's crazy.

3. Finally, there are the supporters. This is where I fell in last night (and at one point failed - apologies to the blond girl that I let fall). The supporters are the people right behind the wall. This line or two of people keeps their arms up and out. Usually it's just a gentle two hands on the back of the person in front of you, but it can also be a forearm braced on their back if you're crowded in too tightly. You're not trying to push people away, but rather to support them when someone from the pit comes flying at the wall. It's the wall's job to keep moshers out of the crowd, but it's the support's job to keep the wall from falling over. At first you feel rude putting your hands on someone, but when you're being pushed back into the crowd you realize just how thankful you are for that person behind you keeping you from falling over.

If someone falls over, no matter where you are, help them up. It's surprising how fast some guy with a mohawk will go from shoving in the pit to apologetically helping up someone they've knocked over. It's honestly one of those things that makes me rant about how misunderstood so many of these kids are - just because they look like they're fighting does not mean they won't try and help you out of the crowd as soon as they realize they just slammed into your nose with their elbow.

Not that that happened last night or anything... though that was about the time we decided to leave. The crowd started getting very rough, and I had an exam that I needed to study for, and just about when my friend and I decided to leave, a particularly violent crowd surge shoved an elbow in my face and my friend's ribs into a booth. And so we left early and ventured back to our separate schools to be responsible adults and sleep before our midterms. Ahh, priorities.

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