There’s nothing like the joy of seeing your favourite band play live. But unless you’re a billionaire with your own mini-Wembley in the back yard of your palace, you’ll find you have to jostle for space with many other gig-goers. Whether they make your night or mar it, the live music experience wouldn’t be the same without them. Here are the ten people you meet at gigs and what to do when you encounter them.
The China Doll
This delicate flower was apparently expecting no less than six square feet of personal space to be respected at all times. Brush past them and they huff with old-lady outrage like you’ve stomped on their prize roses. All you can do is apologise for your lumbering bear-like self and move on, hoping they don’t encounter that enormous guy in the boots who’s having too much fun to notice who he knocks aside with his mighty arms.
Everyone’s here to see the band, but you may find your attention helplessly drawn to the Poser. They’ve put a lot of energy into making that happen, after all. They may be a Mini Me of one of the musicians, or just someone with an air of studied detachment who is clearly wondering what everyone is getting so embarrassingly excited about. Ignore these people with extreme prejudice, lest they curb your happy enthusiasm.
The Mosher/Crowd Surfer
This guy has an uncontrollable urge to express his love for the music with all his flailing limbs at once. He can be found in the pit hurling his torso to and fro, or rumbling overhead in a joyous voyage to the burly embrace of security. He usually means no harm and is often fairly mindful of others, so the thing to do is help him on his way and guard your head against his flying toecaps.
Woo! Shoulders Girl is having the time of her shoulders-borne life tonight. Whether she’s been hoisted aloft by her boyfriend or has commandeered the strong back of a willing stranger, she’s enjoying the arm-wavingest, view-blockingest night ever. She might get in your way a bit, but along with the Mosher and Crowd Surfer, she’s an icon of gig enthusiasm. And she’ll probably get down after the next song, before people start throwing things at her head. Probably.
The Casual Bystander
A distant cousin of the Poser whose detachment is more organic, they appear unmoved and neutral, preoccupied with their own thoughts or staring blankly into space while happy chaos reigns around them. They could be an uncomfortable chaperone, or someone who’s wandered in by mistake. Or they could be having the time of their life in their own contemplative way. Do not judge the Casual Bystander – they’re us, on a quieter day.
What’s that racket? No, not the one we paid, queued and got splashed with beer to hear. It’s that obnoxious idiot hollering a request for their favourite song which will never get played, requesting the singer get their top off, and asking for a pummelling from the crowd. You can only pretend they’re not there – or yell out a witty retort that will earn you a laugh and silence them for the rest of the show. Good luck!
The Superfan Singer-Alonger Who Can Hardly Even Handle It Right Now
Oh My God! They’ve waited their whole life for this moment. The scrunch-eyed, screaming Superfan knows every single word and is so thrilled to be right here right now that they might just go ahead and explode. They will tell anyone who’ll listen, and most people who won’t, that this is the greatest night they have ever known. They’re pogo-ing, hollering joy incarnate. Give them a pat on the back. They’re brilliant.
A thousand times worse and a million times more ubiquitous than the Heckler, these people are the infuriating mosquitos of the live music experience. Chit-chatting away through every single song, yammering over the quiet bits, or just standing in your eyeline filming everything on their phone to enjoy later. Move away from these disengaged clods at once and seek out the Superfan or Mosher who will soothe you with their rabid enthusiasm.
The worst, most irresponsible and self-centred sub-species of Mosher, the Barger throws caution and elbows to the wind and to your face the second the first note is played. Assuming that everyone present expects to get barged in a crowd, this beastly macho beast charges ahead to the front like a bull in a ball pool, scattering bodies as he goes. Help him on his way with a kindly shove and some swears/swearing/choice swear words.
The Awesome Oldie
They may look like one of your parents in fancy dress, but the Awesome Oldie is absolutely the coolest person in the room. They’ve seen it all, done it all and lived to tell the tale, and they’ll sleep when they’re dead. They love live music and they care not a jot for what you think of them. So don’t snigger. If you’re very lucky indeed, this will be you in a couple of decades’ time.
Brought to you by the Bluffer’s Guides – available online at bluffers.com and all good bookshops.