I feel uniquely qualified to weigh in on this topic. I’m 6’2” and have been since I was, like, 14. This bode well for me being able to sneak into 18+ shows where I learned to 1) hide in plain sight and 2) be a considerate concert-goer for a tall guy. And, with Lollapalooza later this week, I feel this is one well-timed lesson.
There are unwritten rules for concerts by which most concert-goers abide and that go largely unnoticed. Until they’re broken. “Have cash at the ready whilst in the beer line and/or at merch tent,” “Do not scream ‘WOOOOOO!’ during your favorite (or any) song,” and the cardinal rule: “DO NOT intentionally block the view of the person who’s behind you – especially if they’re shorter than you are.” The first and the final rules are primarily applicable to club shows and at venues where space is at a premium. The second rule is applicable to any show, anywhere, regardless of venue or band.
I caught a gig at Martyrs a few months back – Tributosaurus becomes Grateful Dead – with a college buddy. We were groovin’ and dancin’ the Wet Noodle – the gyrating movement every Deadhead/Spreadhead/Phan does in one form or another – and feelin’ good. Until tall guy saw his opportunity and set off an uncomfortable chain of events. Like a beady-eyed raccoon, tall guy moved in from the right, ducked around a pole, and planted himself directly in front of my friend. “What the f*ck with this guy?!” exclaimed she. Mortified was, and gently back, stepped I.
Before I go into detail about how tall guy nearly wound up being heaved like a sack of potatoes onto Lincoln Avenue let me relay how, in my experience, the chain of events generally goes down.
Please, tell me if this is familiar:
1. Concert-goer finds his/her space and establishes a comfortable and appropriate boundry.
2. Gig starts; concert-goer is feeling good.
3. Crowd shifts, creating an opening; tall guy concert-goer steps in front of concert-goer.
4. Concert-goer voices objection; tall guy concert-goer pretends not to notice.
5. Fellow concert-goers notice tall guy concert-goer’s jerk move and try to accommodate shafted concert-goer.
6. Overly “helpful” fellow concert-goer offers to “kick his [tall guy concert-goer’s] ass.”
7. Security guy (who’s just been barfed on by fellow, but over served, concert-goer) arrives; wackiness ensues.
Along with fellow tall guy concert-goers, Ralph and Bill, I came up with four ways to avoid being a jerk tall guy concert-goer:
1. If you can see (and everyone around you can, too), stay put.
2. Stand by natural and structural obstructions. Your best bet is near the soundboard, against a wall, or along side to a pole. Martyrs and Fitzgerald’s are both great venues for this.
3. If you see someone who’s struggling, let ‘em stand in front of you. It’s just good karma. Admittedly, if you make this a habit, it could totally backfire and you’ll end up missing the show.
4. Cluster with other tall guys. You’ll find it’s a natural deterrent.
My point to fellow concert-goers is this: most tall guy concert-goers are trying, we really are. My point to fellow tall guy concert-goers is this: if you aren’t trying, start.