Near the beginning of the year, I found out that one of my favorite bands was coming to Columbus on tour. You may have heard of the band Fun. - yes, it’s an unusual band name, and yes, the period is a part of their name. At the time, it was easy to buy tickets because they weren’t an extremely well-known band. Well, then they won a few Grammy awards, had another hit song, and suddenly the show was sold out. Good thing I bought my tickets early.
I had been somewhat-patiently waiting for this concert for months. Aaron occasionally teases me for listening to current pop and rock music all the time, but even he agrees this band is awesome, which is why he was willing to come along with me. And yes, for the record I love current pop music and my iPhone is filled with current hits. At least I’ll always be aware of what my kids are listening to. Also, being able to sing along with their favorite songs makes me the cool mom now, and will absolutely mortify them when they’re teens. I call that a win-win.
On Saturday night, as I was looking up the concert info again, I noticed that there had been a venue change. Instead of playing the PromoWest LC Pavilion – a smallish, outdoor concert area, the concert had been moved to the LC Festival stage, immediately behind the Pavilion. I’m guessing that was done to sell more tickets. As long as it was still a comfortable area, I wasn’t too concerned.
The concert was also general admission. I haven’t been to a general admission concert since I was in college, and before that as a teenager seeing bands at the State Fair. I wish it would have been a location with assigned seating, but I thought as long as we got there early we’d have a good shot at being closer to the stage. I expected crowded conditions and that once we found our spot we’d likely need to stay in that spot or lose it.
Sunday evening we arrived to the concert two hours before the doors opened. The line was already down two blocks to the highway entrance. Since they couldn’t have people lining up on the highway off-ramp, the line diverted onto a small dirt path beside the concern venue, in a wooded area. (It’s also the path that leads to a downtown homeless camp.) We were in the part of the line still going up the path, with no idea where the line turned to go back to the street.
A member of the PromoWest event staff came by with a megaphone after half an hour and told the crowd that doors would open right at 7pm, and they would get us all in as fast as possible. He promised that security was tight to prevent line jumping (joking that they would taser line jumpers), so we just needed to stay in line and we’d all get in quickly.
It was hot. Really, really hot. And it felt like we were standing there forever. Finally, it was 7pm, and the line started to slowly move. But just after we made the turn and started coming down the path to the street again, we saw others, further in line behind us, turn and merge in with the downward-facing line. What? People started grumbling about the line jumpers, but the offenders just shrugged their shoulders and shuffled even further down the line, ahead of more people.
As we reached the street, we saw large numbers of people ignoring the very obvious line entirely and walking right up to the entrance, blending in with the crowd and getting in without a wait. So much for that “security” they talked about. I was furious that we waited forever in line when we could have just sat in the shade near the entrance and then walked in when the doors opened.
Once inside, we got to see what the Festival stage area looked like.
It was the asphalt parking lot behind the Pavilion with a temporary stage set up at one end. Seriously? Half-way back was a huge video screen, meaning anyone behind the video screen couldn’t see the stage at all. Of course, being on a flat surface, their view was going to be mostly blocked by the people ahead of them anyway. I grumbled again about the lousy venue.
While we waited for the opening act, I looked for some water. Every food and beverage booth was cash only. The band’s merchandise tents were also cash only. (Not by the band’s choice – this was the venue’s choice.) Waiting in line for an ATM with a sky-high fee to help the venue profit more wasn’t something I was willing to do, so I had to abandon my hope of getting a tour t-shirt and used the $6 I had for two waters.
Since so many people were in line for beer, we managed to find a decent spot to stand that provided a fairly good view of the stage. At least at first. More people began to crowd into our space. If you had room to look down and see your shoes, then someone was likely to push in front of you to take up that available space. The opening act, Tegan and Sara, went on stage around 8pm, and while it was crowded around us it wasn’t too bad. (Side note: I’ve never heard Tegan and Sara before, but they’re very good. I’ve added them to my Spotify list.)
After they were done, there was a momentary exodus as some went for beer refills. It was nice to breathe again. But then the crowd started to pack in tighter. Those who went to get beer came back to their spots, only others had also filled in the open areas, making it impossible for people to fit. Others would then push past, saying “oh, we’re trying to get back to our friends” but would then stop shortly in front of us, never finding those “friends” they were looking for.
A man next to us yelled at one group of women, shaming them for lying to push their way through and then stop in front of him. He wouldn’t let up in his tirade against them , either, and eventually they left the area to escape the verbal abuse. I had to applaud him for trying to make people act like adults.
Another woman and her friend then tried to push through shortly after that. I didn’t even have room to lift my elbows out to the side at this point. The woman beside me, who had been there the entire time like us, looked at the two newcomers and said, “Please, just no. I haven’t seen you here all night, you’re not trying to get back to your spot. Don’t be rude and think you’re better than others.”
The woman blew her off with a “I don’t have to answer to you,” and began to forcibly shove her way between me and the others. There wasn’t room, and the more she and her friend pushed, the more I was being squished and pushed into the others around me. (ouch) The woman beside me lost it at this point, grabbing the pusher’s arm and telling her, “No, you’re not standing in front of us, move to the back, bitch.”
And then a fight broke out right in front of me.
Why did I think I was young enough to still come to general admission concerts?
It didn’t last long, thank goodness, and the pusher lost the fight with some impressive scratches on her arm from the nails of the woman next to me. At that point, the winner glanced back to see three other women, who had also been pushing through until they got to us, right behind her. Our “hold the line” defender glared at them and one immediately said, “We’re not trying to get past you, promise! We saw what you did and we don’t want to fight you!”I had to laugh at this gal’s self-preservation skills, even when she was totally drunk.
Finally (FINALLY!) Fun. was on stage. And the concert was great, even if I was jammed up against other sweaty people (hate touching strange people, ew!), completely dripping in sweat myself from the heat, coughing from smokers blowing smoke in my face, had my view blocked several times by taller people moving ahead of me, and had beer spilled all over me from the drunk woman next to me, including half a cup kicked over onto my TOMS. (Anyone know if TOMS canvas shoes can be safely washed? Hand washed or machine?)
The performance was outstanding, and they played a nice mix of songs from both of their albums. Their voices were better than many live band appearances I’ve heard, and not a single song felt phoned in. Just when I’d start to feel worn out, Fun. revitalized the crowd with their own energy and kept that energy going for the entire show. Although I didn’t feel it that night, my feet, legs and back burned the next day from standing on asphalt for so long.
Seeing the band live was something I had wanted to do for over a year now, and I was glad to get my wish. Next time I’ll be a little more detailed in my wish, though, and hope they play a better venue, with actual organization, staffing, and assigned seats.
I doubt I’ll ever see another concert at the PromoWest LC Pavilion – their inability to manage a concert was astounding. Moving it to a parking lot just because the band became more popular and they wanted to sell more tickets? Awful. (Also, those who purchased tickets before it was moved weren’t eligible for any upgrades or the chance to get a refund if they didn’t want to be at the new location.)
And I’m sure there are some who would say I’m just old and can’t cope with the way younger folks do concerts. Maybe I am too old for general admission concerts now, if by “old” you mean possessing common decency and manners. The crowd looked, on average, much younger than me, but there were also plenty of older folks behaving badly.
I feel like I should start telling “when I was younger” stories right now. Why, when I was younger, we were still packed in for concerts, but we gave each other a little more space, and sure, beer got spilled occasionally, but we apologized and didn’t try to trample everyone in front of us.
Where’s my cane? Get off my lawn!
(Yes, the camera is swaying a bit in the video. I couldn’t help it – if the crowd was swaying, I was moving along with it whether I liked it or not.)