Crowded parking lots and vivacious shakedown streets may be the two perfect attributes that describe my typical summer. While summer work is necessary to provide motivation and funds, summer concerts are a way to blow off steam and listen to good music in the company of friends. Though for me, concerts have become a sort of religious expression, founded on the methodical ways of surviving the lots and sustained by Phish’s east coast stints.
For me, concerts were sort of ingrained in the fabrics of my being since my first show in 2009 seeing Australian hard rock giants, AC/DC. The sheer electricity exhibited got me hooked as the energy coming from the audience’s roar brought me to bliss.
Seven years later, I still find myself on the road, traveling to far off places with my Nikon D3300 sashed over my shoulder and passes in hand. The moment I step on a dust-laden field and smell the aroma of showerless shakedown vendors and barbeque, I feel an odd sense of being at home. Even after attending countless shows, walking into a venue always feels like the first time; a sense of wonder is felt and a childlike whimsy takes over.
Below are general rules to abide by in the jungle that is the summer music circuit based on actual (and somewhat comical) stories that have happened in my travels.
What’s in the bag? – The summer of 2014 was a monumental period as I was preparing to head off to college in the fall and I attempted to fit as many shows into my schedule as possible. I found myself in Delaware for the Firefly Music Festival and the second day, I was deep in the pit for a performance from one of the most eccentric live bands performing today, Cage the Elephant. Sure enough, Matt Schultz and the crew headed out and about mid-way through the set, I capture out of the corner of my eye a roughly 80-year-old gentleman in ripped pants, no shoes and a tie-dyed 1996 Dave Matthews Band Crash tour shirt, selling bags of magic mushrooms. Bags were flying left and right as the frail figure danced around and glided to his heart’s delight. I couldn’t help but laugh and snap a quick photo with the man and to this day, I still keep to the motto that no matter how delightful the individual is, freebies on a concert field or lot should be avoided, even if you’re craving a gooball or just a bottle of whatever the other guy is having.
Duck! – I’ve never been one to condone physical violence of any form but sometimes, it can provide a sort of dark comedic effect. For my dad’s 42nd birthday, I took him to a 90s throwback show co-headlined by Nine Inch Nails and Soundgarden. While Nine Inch Nails scared him to death just as much as their fan base did, who were generally goths that looked as though they hadn’t seen a hint of the summer sun, the real entertainment of the show came from a few rows behind us during Soundgarden’s set. It is always a nuisance to hear people arguing, but you know that things are about to get real when leathered-up Tony decides to flex his pectoral muscles to no avail, defending his hubby from drunkards. Suddenly, the leatherman’s wife clocked another woman in the face with a cigarette and fell forward two rows. Of course, security had to get involved, but imagine if people just sobered up through an opener. I mean, at least take it to the lot.
“Can’t keep my hands to myself” – I admit, I am a glorified Phish phan and will be catching them another four times this month. My obsession with Phish transcends everything in life and for my girlfriend, it sure is a pain. The genius in me thought it was a grandiose idea to head out to New York City for New Year’s Eve last year to catch Phish. In my cunning ways, I never told her exactly how horrid and gross some “phans” can be; no wonder some are labeled “wooks.” Her face of repulsion seemed to linger through the night as my attempts to get down to “Kill Devil Falls” had no effect on her. To add to her sentiment, one of these individuals decided to put on her jacket and walk out of the row with my girlfriend only catching on at the last second to chase down the thief. I know, as a Phish phan, that the community is full of love, but for the oblivious ones out there, know the crowd; you’ll either find your best friend or just another person wanting your coat.