Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Even Trent Reznor Needs Hand Clapping

Concerts are funny places. In the past you knew exactly what you were getting into, the crowd you would see, if it was going to be clove cigarettes or pot you would be smelling. Now though, much like going to see a movie, it is an amalgam of noise, trash and vomit.
Last night's Nine Inch Nails show is case in point fuel to my "The Art of Rock" diatribe that I have been spouting for some time. Unfortunately, you are now a captive audience so I feel I can dispense with its nuances.
For starters, Trent Reznor and company know how to put on a show and entertain the young'uns so let's understand that the artist has no bearing on its patrons. In fact, last night was a very enjoyable concert going experience shared with some of my very best friends, and let's face it, that is what it is all about; sharing good music with good people. But I am a cynical son of a bitch so with that territory comes the gift of acute observation.

The Art of Rock is all about knowing your etiquette while in the presence of others at a concert, this includes everything from stupid hand gestures, attire and nasty social habits. The caveat for any statement I make here is that music makes you feel good and sometimes do stupid things, I got it.
Hand Gestures: The Basics
The most common and overused has to be the air guitar. Unless you are proficient at the real thing and can teach me a move or two, this is tired, old and OUT! Please stop immediately. Instead, try air keyboards for a change...just to be different, if you have to let your "Hey!" out.
Next is something I like to call Raise the glass of Stupidity. You are out of the house and away from your youth pastor, why not partake in a libation. Concerts are your weekend in the middle of the week so drinking is fine. What isn't fine is feeling the need to "offer" the performers on stage a sip of your Lynchburg Lemonade from 30 rows back by raising your glass in the air as a symbolic gesture. I came here without beer in my hair and plan to leave that way. Also, I could see perfectly fine every other second when your cup finally came down for you to take another lush. Simon LeBon doesn't want any of your beverage, he has his own and it's better than what you're drinking.
Devil Horns. When did you start doing this? Please reserve this for when you pose at a Metallica show or at Ozzfest. Instead a simple fist hand pump is acceptable, or possibly a lovely "heart" made with your hands (a skinny tie original), or better yet, bring a Chinese finger trap and save the cliche hand outbursts for your bedroom.
If you are looking for a good use of energy output, instead of acting foolish with one of the above offenses, why not try good old fashion hand clapping. Why, think of the benefits. All that energy pent up inside of you, there's that one part of the song that makes you want to shoot the devil horns or dump beer on the person in front of you, start clapping your hands in time with the beat. You might even start something that catches and before long, everyone is one big time keeping happy family! Besides, the artists love this. As a matter of fact, just last night Trent Reznor felt the love and started waving his hands over his head in a clapping motion. Too macho to clap your hands? Take it from Mr. Self-Destruct, even he likes hand clapping!
No one is safe from the critical eye of the arena walkway. No, not in today's world where accountants, lawyers, McDonald's employees, porn stars (amateur mostly), moms, dads, kids and oldsters all mix in at the same Staind concert. I am no fashion plate (nor Staind fan) myself but I do know some fairly simple rules when it comes to dressing for success at concerts.
Do NOT wear the shirt of the band you are going to see. This is a very basic and, for many of you, already understood rule of the road. We all know that you really really REALLY love Weezer but if you are going to the show, do not put on the tour shirt. Hell shit and damn you can scream all you want that you were there in River's garage back in 1992, but wearing their shirt makes you no more of a fan than the 10 year old next to you. Not to be a rock snob but in this case, showing your support makes you a loser.
I saw it on Mtv! Why is it that people try sooo hard to dress a certain way for a show just because they saw someone do it on Mtv or The O.C. when in fact by day, they wouldn't be caught dead in their concert get-ups? I often wonder where the girls in the ripped fishnets with raccoon eyes and studded collars go during the day. Do they take my car payment at Suntrust? Are they the one I buy my gummi bears from at Walgreens? It is not so much that I dislike people getting in the mood of a certain group, it is just that some people take it too far and adopt the "attitude" that goes with it. To butcher a line, It is when people start being fake and stop being real that really gets my thrift store Penguin shirt and funky dress slacks in an uproar! I have no claim to anything hip or cool, trust me, but it is really frustrating when you have been flying the (actual) skinny tie for quite some time without taking hints from a hit TV show and then see people adopting it like a fucking Live Strong bracelet. We are all victims of pop culture, I admit it and happily embrace its effect, but don't' go to a Tilly and the Wall show dressed like you are a reject from Blink just don't get it. I know it is hard, but find your own style. Put a plastic bag over your head, maybe it will catch on.
Just kidding. Wear whatever you want but at least try to be yourself.
I saw it at Hot Topic! I think this one speaks for itself. We know you "heart" your penis. Great.
Finally, here is a wish list of things that I pray to Debbie Gibson will go away soooon: Hair coloring "just because." Green hair coloring is the worst offender, it's just gross. Studded collars (you are so tough!), Black dusters, knee high army boots, Vote for Pedro t-shirts, wearing a skinny tie out of context (i.e. around a moronic t-shirt...gasp!), mesh shirts, black angel wings, face painting...basically anything from the aforementioned Hot Topic, Spencer's or if you just plain old look like you stepped out of an episode of Chris Angel, Mindfreak!!!
Let's make an analogy, shall we? Going to a concert = going to church. For some, this truly is the case. With that in mind, just like in church, there are some rules and regulations to be observed and some common decencies you should know while church..ahem, NIN is in service.

Phrasing. Please do not say "Woooo!" or "Freebird." The first one makes me imagine you just had to get out of the sorority house for the night and are looking for the nearest kegger. The second just makes you look like an ass and just so you know, it wasn't even funny the first time someone said it a million years ago before Lynyrd Skynyrd wrote that song. That is how damn old and tired that phrase is.

DO: sing along with the artist. Of course, it would be nice if you sounded halfway decent but it is dark and no one is really listening. tee heehee

Tall people to the back! Not like I really feel that because of your height you should be relegated to the back of the floor but...Hey! I heard they were giving away free beer in the back of the room, you oughta go get some! Actually, I have a friend that I attend shows with who is well over 6'3"...6'5"...God, how tall are you Brad? Anyway, since this is my blog and it is pretty much a fantasy world we are talking about here, this is my rule of etiquette: Tall people to the back. Ha! Tall people with that urban afro shit going on, please step to the waaaay back. I always seem to get behind the tallest, frizziest person in the place.

My next rule of conduct is something I call I think I can fit! the last minute! It never fails, just as the lights go dark and the headliner takes the stage, a wave of humanity rushes down to the floor where you have stood since an hour before the show and slowly forces you away from the stage until you are ultimately assisting the merch booth kids. In real life, these kids couldn't parallel park correctly if they had a hundred tries at it but come concert time, they are the masters of finding enough space to fit their entire big boy brigade. So here's the etiquette. If you like the group that much, afford yourself time to get a good spot 'cause this skinny white boy ain't moving! It's just plain rude to immediately inherit the space where my crotch is.

Have you ever seen the girl train? Similar to the I think I can fit but more alluring. This phenomenon is alive and well at every music event from Hansen to Rammstein. A gaggle (hmm, yes gaggle) of girls hook hand-in-hand, grease themselves down and slither their way from the entrance doors all the way to the front of the stage where, if God has a sense of humor, they will end up smack dab in front of the I think I can fits. This is all accomplished through the girl trains' counting on their feminine prowess to gain access through the crowd. I really don't fall for that shit so the charm of it is lost on me.

Flashing your tits. I really don't go to the type of show where this is common practice, sorry. But I would say unless it is acceptable for guys to start rocking their business freely too, I don't want any part of it. I'm an equal opportunity voyeur.

Knowing your limits. Until last night, I thought the Guns n' Roses crowd had all but vanished from the scene. You know the type, the best part about the evening to them is not caring who they were coming to see but how fucking much they can drink before the show. Thanks to a group just like this, I spent the entire NIN set last night smelling recycled Moe's. Nice! Honey, you are so attractive with that little bit of burrito stuck to your fishnets.

My last and final rule of conduct involves one of the biggest concert obstacles, smoking. I really don't want to write too much on this topic as I already have another Skinny Tie post about this formulating as we speak, but I will say this: I don't care if you paid as much as I did to get into the show and I don't care if it is a "free world" or not. I cannot escape your floating cancer cloud. Even if it makes you look cooler (which it does not), even if you can only enjoy a musical venue by pretending you are SnoopfuckingDogg and even if you are so insanely helpless and sad and addicted to cigarettes that you have no self control can you please at least go for two damn hours without lighting up? I feel I must speak for those who prefer not to damage their bodies by substances they have no control over like cigarettes, pollution, Anthrax and umm, White Snake cover bands.

And so, there you have a small sampling of what I like to call the Art of Rock. It is this author's humble opinion that it's possible to enjoy a great concert and not have to drive screws through your eyes from seeing the freakshow going on around you, if only others would practice the Art of Rock. Of course in retrospect, it always makes you feel superior when you can laugh at the tween couple next to you playing air guitar and feeling all edgy in their best Hot Topic tees. It's sad when going to see a great band is more of a social statement than it is about the music. Ah, misguided youth.


crit said...

hand clapping is good for the soul.

so sorry that i missed out on the vhat festivities. :( Boo!

Too Tall Brad said...

SIX FOOT FIVE AND LOVING IT!! Although, I am not loving the fact that I may have ruined the show for you. You should've shoved my ass out of the way. I'm sorry man!

stephanie said...

Great blog, betamike! I heartily agree and would like to drop my two pennies. Stop the groping! I hate when raging heterosexuals find the need to make out right in front of me. You can do that to the sounds of Death Cab at home. I'm there to SEE them, too.

crit said...

you really meant, "air oboe", right? or maybe you were just trying to spare britton's fellings?

ogpka... oh gosh!
poopie knickers again!

betamike said...

Brad, there is NO way you could ever ruin a show for me. You are the exception that I was talking about because you are always very aware of your height. Yeah Brad! In the world of Skinny Tie, I can bitch but make exceptions for my friends. Ha ha ha to the rest of ya'll!!

iwfowdg - I wouldn't fock withya dog!