On Monday night I went adventuring.
More specifically, I took myself into London to the Shepherd’s Bush O2 for The Airborne Toxic Event concert (side note: if you have no idea who I’m talking about, get yourself on youtube, sharpish). I discovered them whilst living in Toronto four or five years ago, and have been loving their music ever since. This is the first time that their being on tour and my location have intersected. As soon as I found out that I might be able to take in a show, I started attempting to bribe people into coming along.
I have been to the movies by myself. I have proven quite adept at touristing alone. I wasn’t sure that I had graduated to going to concerts by myself, but at the same time, I was loathe to miss out on the experience. There is just something about seeing certain bands live, and I had a feeling that The Airborne Toxic Event was one of those bands. Additionally, I really love going to concerts, and have no way of knowing if I will ever be close to a TATE tour again.
So, after weighing all the pros and cons, I decided on Monday afternoon that if I could still get a ticket I was going. As luck would have it, I could still get a ticket.
I booked standing room without really thinking about it, because most of the concerts I’ve been to only have that option, and because I like to be close to the action. It was admittedly a bit awkward when I got there because I was standing all alone in the crowd, and everybody else seemed to have a somebody. At long last, the Drowning Men presented themselves and were highly enjoyable. Another perk of concerts is the introduction to new music via opening acts. I will have to look in to this one as well.
Whilst waiting for the main event I was able to make small talk with a couple nearby, which made it decidedly less painful, and finally the lights dimmed and it was time. It is perhaps worth mentioning that I was about the third person back from the centre microphone, which is second only to being right in front of it.
The Airborne Toxic Event are unbelievably fabulous live. Each member has an individual stage presence that blends into the whole experience, and they are incredibly personable, despite, or perhaps in spite of, the divide that saves them from the grabbing hands of rabid fans. A gap they often attempt to breach, making it clear that they value the experience as much as the fans do. The sights, the sounds, the interactions. The whole package was just incredible.
The one thing I was not prepared for was people attempting to mosh. I am, admittedly, very removed from such an inclination, but based on the music, it was something really unexpected. I had learned from previous standing room disasters (Rise Against) to not where flip flops, so I wore sandals that would assuredly remain on my feet the whole time. I really thought going in that I had it sorted. I’ll be better prepared next time, because I sort of like my toes and they do not appreciate such treatment.
So anyways, about these people and their moshing. It’s really not something I understand. I mean, can’t you enjoy the experience by jumping up and down as one of a crowd, rather than attempting to come in forcible contact with said crowd? Some of them appeared to be grown (read: considerably older than me) and surprisingly unconcerned about the well-being of others in the crowd. Part of me is of the ‘to each his own’ mindset, but part of me thinks you could be more aware of your surroundings.
Being caught up in this sort of thing is bad for me on several levels. First, and those of you who have met me can attest to this, I have terrible balance on a good day with a flat surface. Never mind when being violently pushed around in a crowd. In truth, I almost got knocked right to the floor, and I’m pretty sure that would have brought about a very different experience. One of the girls I had been standing behind was able to move me up next to her, so that I was that much closer to the stage, and a little bit out of the way. I also had the added bonus of the girls in front of me allowing me to reach around them to grab the railing. This greatly improved some of my balance issues.
Regardless, I was able to more thoroughly enjoy the show when I wasn’t helpless amongst a crowd of crazies. That and I am far too Canadian for a mosh pit situation. Every time I get shoved into someone I apologize profusely, even though they all say not to worry about it. Indeed I was basically copping a feel on the poor girl in front of me just to remain balanced, but fortunately she was lovely to talk to in the break between the main set and the encore. It was the sort of thing where all the die hard fans down front who seemed to know each other were more than happy to adopt me into the fold and attempt to protect me from mosh pit induced death, which was sort of heartwarming.
At the end of the show, and it really was one of the best I have been to, on par with Matt Mays, who I relentlessly stalk, there was still stellar interaction with the crowd. I was really impressed to see them throwing all their picks into the crowd, in that cute ‘use once and toss’ motion. The drummer came back out with two sets of sticks that he handed out. I caught the bassists’ sweaty towel, but not seeing a legitimate usage for it (as I need to keep my English acquisitions to a minimum), I gave it to another fan, who had been really sweet about checking on me throughout when he saw how I was struggling. The roadies came out with extra copies of the set list and passed them around. It was really neat to see.
After it all ended I chatted for a bit with some of the girls I had been stood with, until security began the sweep. I went outside at a bit of a loss and noticed the opening act loading up their stuff out front. I peered down the side of the building to see if perhaps TATE was around and was somewhat surprised to see the lead singer heading out on his own. Because he was heading in the same direction that I needed to go, I chanced following thinking that if nothing else, I would end up back at the Underground station, but i was actually able to catch up with him part way through the park.
When leaving for the concert I had made sure to pack a Sharpie and the most recent CD insert (it just came out over here last week so I’ve only had it since Saturday, and had no idea about the venue and whether or not there would be merch and such) because I’ve been burned before. I asked for and was granted a quick autograph because he was trying to slip away stealthily. He asked if I was American, which led to a lovely little chat whilst walking through the park. Upon reaching the edge, we introduced ourselves, shook hands and parted ways. It was one of those sort of surreal experiences I’ve not really had with any other artists I’ve encountered, which will hopefully make it that much more memorable.
So there you have it. A long drawn-out reflection on what will someday amount to a moment in time. But what a moment it was.