Zen and the Art of Concert-going

Quick disclosure, this is not a music review. And I am not a music-head, or even an avid concert-goer. My only qualifications are: I enjoy music, I enjoy the occasional concert, and I am a human who observes things. With that, I present to you my time at a recent Phantogram concert!

Let’s get my endorsement of Phantogram out of the way. They are a wonderful electro-synth rock band. I would describe their music as a modern version of Portishead, but without the heavy “throw yourself off a bridge” vibe. All of their music is on Spotify. You should totally check’em out, you will love them.

Humans are funny. We are so different, yet so easy to classify in a group setting. I’m not talking stereotyping of people, we are literally easy to classify by societal archetypes based on the outward appearances we portray. “Hey, you can’t judge a book…” yeah, yeah. The covers are what I have in front of me so like a librarian I’m able to sort and classify people by their genre. Here are a few:

Girl Who Knows All The Band’s Songs
How do I know? Because she is behind my right shoulder literally singing every word to every song. And peppering in excited remarks like, “OMG I knew they would play this one!!!” “OMG I can’t believe they are playing this one!!!”

Guy Who Is At Concert Because His Girlfriend Wanted To Go
You can find him either at the bar buying his 5th beer to help pass the time, or standing awfully still in the middle of the crowd kinda bobbing his head trying to find the beat of songs he’s never heard. The only time he really gets into it is when the band does the obligatory mention of the city we live in, “Are you ready to have some fun…DALLAS?” Guy, “F-YEAH, they said my city’s name! WOO!”

Guy/Girl Who Choose To Watch The Show Through Their Smartphone
We’ve all done it, taking a few pics at a concert to commemorate the event. Why? I’m not sure, because the pictures are pretty terrible. They’re fuzzy, the light is blown out, and you see 25 arms between you and the subject. Yet, there are dozens of people that spend half of the concert taking video that they will never watch again. I know you are just trying to give your 16 Instagram followers a thrill, but c’mon.

Old Guy
Every concert has one. He’s not too creepy, and not too old, but his wearing of a Member’s Only jacket in a non-ironic way makes him stand out.

Girl Who Has Had Too Much To Drink
Maybe the most annoying human on the planet. Let’s call her “Tina.” She gets really mouthy and tries to instigate something with absolutely anyone in a 6 ft radius. “WhaDahellUlookin@?! I know I’m sexy, but you can’t touch my… (BARF!)” And then she keeps dancing and having a good time while are friends are forced to manage the situation that is “Tina.”

I can’t tell if these guys’ intensity comes from loving their job so much, or hating their job so much. It looks like “determined-pissed-off-ness.” And they crave any reason to use their flashlight to check out a cord or light, and you know they know the lumens count.

African American Security Guard
It is impossible for a human face to look more disinterested. He clearly doesn’t like this music and thinks everyone in the crowd is an idiot.

Generally Cool People
Thankfully this is the bucket most of us find ourselves. We paid our money to enjoy the show, make a little noise and have a little fun. And we do our part to be copasetic with some of the groups above.

Two quick-hit, parting observations:

  1. I’ve been to 3 consecutive concerts where in between the opening band and main act the club plays some of the dirtiest, darkest hip hop music I’ve ever heard. If I had Shazam’ed it, it would have read, “Cannot recognize, you are in a prison.”

    The music choice made no sense, I was wide-eyedly looking to the left and right wondering if people were hearing the same lyrics I was, and yet tons of hipster-women are grinding on each other to the phat beats. These lyrics were doing nothing for the upward promotion of women and their issues.

  2. Can we please do away with the whole “encore” process. If the band is ‘feeling it’ and wants to do 2 more songs, please take a sip of water and swap out your guitar to play the songs. Instead, it is this ritual of hundreds of people screaming some form of “yeah” for 3 minutes, and then the band comes out to play 2 more songs. Bands don’t have an Applause-o-Meter backstage that they are monitoring, waiting for the crowd to hit. “Almost, almost there…THEY DID IT GUYS, let’s go give’em 2 more songs!”

That’s my time.


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