A world citizen may provide value to society by using knowledge acquired across cultural contexts.
31 January 2012
Tonight I saw My Chemical Romance for the second time in three days. They put on a pretty good show, hitting the notes, playing songs to a crowd that was very into it, and doing all of it with energy and flare. But the things that are standing out to me even an hour later are all the other things. (NOTE: I’ll admit on this entry that I’m not sure exactly of the order of events in the crowd and when they fell in relation to the stage show. All of them did happen, and I’ve put them together in a coherent enough way that a couple months from now I will have convinced myself this is how it actually all went down.)
One reason that I love the fact that I like MCR is that they are a band largely appreciated by teenage girls. I’m tired of going to shows where all the fans seem to be adult guys. This isn’t a sexist thing, and it isn’t a creepy thing. This is solely a visibility thing. Females, on average, are shorter. And given that many of them haven’t finished growing, that is even more the case. And when I don’t get to a show in time to be in the front row, being able to see the stage clearly from row ten is pretty awesome.
Another reason I enjoy being at their shows is that the people watching is fantastic, if a bit obvious. Pink hair, lace stockings, goth/Victorian fashion sense, large piercings. I miss the days of going to concerts with Beth (Placebo and Garbage especially, VNV Nation was also a good one). The people there were quirky without being too obviously weird, and we could spend the lead-up time talking over house music trying to figure out who were on dates, who was into who, what the reasoning behind a choice of clothing was – really whatever back story we could come up with for people. One of the drawbacks of going to concerts solo is that I don’t have someone with me to do this. I do meet heaps of people, and some really cool ones sometimes, but it is hard with new people to people-watch without seeming judgmental.
Even before the opening band had started the crowd was already starting to push and shove, undulating in waves that made it seem like we were all crammed on the deck of a boat on the open seas. When Closure in Moscow took the stage, the crowd didn’t get any better. I was back enough to not be involved but watched as the scene unfolded. Without excessive amounts of drunk guys, there weren’t a lot of snaking chains of force slicing their way through the crowd. It was pretty much a visible flow of the sides pushing towards the middle in walls and the back pushing forward in the same way.
Security did a phenomenal job in maintaining the safety and health of the crowd without interfering too much. I’ve actually rarely seen security do better. They poured water into the mouths of those in the front rows. And for those further back they capped bottles and tossed them. Empties were thrown back up and the process repeated. My good deeds for the night started by flagging down security, getting him to toss me a bottle which I caught, and then handing it to a group of short girls near me who had been trying to get water for a few minutes.
After the opener I moved up into a gap, crossing the threshold of touching. From here on out I would be subject to the shoving of the crowd. A group of three came out to the same area to get some breathing room, one of them having been falling over and nearly crushed. I gave her some reassuring words and calmed her down a bit.
A couple girls next to me located their friend further up in the pit. The friend looked a bit panicked and crushed. The two girls tried to extend a hand to pull her out but she wasn’t committal. I offered my hand to pull her out and she confirmed she was staying. Once MCR took the stage the crowd went predictably ballistic. The first five songs were just an exercise in staying vertical and not getting shoved around too much. Having been to as many shows as I have, I am well versed in the art of planting my feet in the proper stance, seeing what direction the wave is coming from, and bracing against it. I’ve been the wall that stops many a wave from continuing, that keeps the increasing lean from becoming a full-on fall. It is something that I pride myself on in crowds for awareness of my surroundings as well as for safety.
As the show went on and people got pulled out of the crowd my position improved. And the middle third of the show was almost calm with people accepting they weren’t getting closer and not worried that the show was about to end. And when it was all over I went to the first aid section to get some water. It was there I got the highlight of my evening.
Claire and Shannette (I have no idea on the spelling of either), the two girls who were trying to pull their friend out, were there too and they approached me. They (mainly Claire) thanked me at length for the role that I had played in her concert experience. My being a wall had prevented them from getting crushed or bowled over. They had been able to actually see and enjoy the show more for my efforts. I apparently am one of the few people in the pit looking out for other people, and my presence makes up for the overwhelming number of drunk jerks who just shove people around. What could have been a bad experience (and it was her first pit experience) was helped to be positive thanks to me. And they weren’t alone in appreciating it; other people in the crowd had pointed me out and asked if they were with me.
I was floored. I generally try to be a nice person and to look out for others, but I figure that it is usually unnoticed. And even if it is noticed, I usually get a head nod or an on the spot, “Thanks.” But to have someone that I don’t know come up to me long after the fact specifically to thank me is three factors that all came together to be a huge bump to my ego. And as was pointed out, hopefully by saying thanks I will be more likely to continue in the future.
It just felt good to hear it all. Yes, I do like compliments and this thank you hit that pretty well. But I also like to know that I’m appreciated and that something I’ve done has made a difference. And that she actually gave me a verbal thank you letter instead of just the unspoken appreciation meant tons. I walked out of the show floating on positive energy and feeling good about the world. Do unto others really works.