I recently attended the first ever School of Rock Fest in Asbury Park, NJ, the Bouncing Souls’ homestate. The Bouncing Souls, Bad Brains, Loved Ones, and Lucero were a few of the great musicians to play.
During the Bouncing Souls’ set, I was inspired to commentate on some “show etiquette”. I don’t know how upsetting crowd surfing is to others, but I often find myself really pissed at shows when the same people keep falling on my head. I surprised myself at this show when I found myself flicking off a female crowd surfer I didn’t know and screaming “Fuck you!” twice while looking her square in the eyes. She’d surfed onto my head at least five times and I believe by the end of the set she had gone a total of seven times.
Crowd surfing can be fun although it’s rarely necessary. When one is injured or dehydrated and needs to get out of there, sure. But other than that . . .
I can understand the appeal. I mean, it is a cool feeling. People are lifting you up. You are special and people actually want to put their hands on you. In reality they just don’t want you to break their neck and they are compassionate enough to keep you from breaking yours. You could also make it closer to the stage, closer to the band members, and maybe onto the stage depending on what kind of show you’re attending. Other than these desires, I’m not sure why people feel the need to crowd surf over and over.
During the Bouncing Souls at the festival, there was a barracade and there was no way you were making it onto the stage. The only way you’d be able to interact with the band members would be if you were surfing while Greg had the mic in the crowd.
Why did certain people feel the need to surf seven times? More importantly, why did audience members agree to lift the same people up and keep them up?
I suggest only surfing at smaller clubs when you know there’s a chance of making it up onto the stage and singing along to one of your favorite songs. Pick the line in the song that you love, go up 30 seconds to 45 seconds before that line so you can make it onto the stage, sing along, and jump off. How accomplished would that make you feel? It’s a great feeling!
Where is the desire in surfing over and over again as you piss off every single person in the crowd? As much fun as it is for you, it’s not fun for anyone else. At all. Your sweaty ass crack is rubbing on the backs of unsuspecting victims’ heads. Don’t be surprised if we grab your shoe and throw it. As for what else could happen to you: we are grouping every possible body part, you could loose your wallet in addition to your shoes, we’re going to pull your hair, you might land on your neck, you might loose your clothes, you might not make it to the stage and just end up in a sweaty pit of people in an unknown location. All this for what?! I can understand enduring this if you really want to sing along on stage, but why else would you continue these antics? So you can run over to your best friend afterward and brag that you broke the world record for most surfing during one song?
Why does this continue? Maybe the meatheads just want a good feel-up.
Maybe all crowd surfing should be banned by federal law. However, stage diving would be almost impossible, and stage dives make me feel more alive.
Maybe I will tackle stage diving etiquette at a later date.
For a quick review of my two favorite bands . . .
The headliners were, of course, our nation’s capital’s own Bad Brains. They closed the festival on Sunday night with a set of about 50 percent reggae and 50 percent legendary hardcore punk. After their classic “At the Movies,” crazed circle pit-addicts hollered, “One more song!” over and over again (probably hoping to hear “Big Takeover” cough Ilovethatsong cough). HR’s performance was a little lacking, seeing as how he didn’t move too much and sometimes sang in a monotone voice. However, I was greatful. He didn’t show up in a wild outfit wearing a helmet of some sort; he didn’t storm off stage; and the band only referred to the crowd as “a bunch of assholes” once. So for recent Bad Brains performances, I’m assuming this was one of the better. Not that I’m an expert.
The Bouncing Souls put on a great performance as always, despite the sound system acting up. They played a great variety of stuff, and that always excites me. They of course played a couple obligatory How I Spent My Summer Vacation favorites (“True Believers” and “Private Radio”). They threw in a couple newer ones from last summer’s The Gold Record and 2003’s Anchors Aweigh. The songs that really got the crowd pumped were the favorites from Hopeless Romantic, Maniacal Laughter, and even a super old favorite from The Good, The Bad, and The Argyle, “Joe Lies” (title based on a scene from Say Anything . . . The Bouncing Souls love my favorite 80’s movies). The band always has a god amount of energy, especially considering they’re all 30-something years old. Greg is awesome about getting up on the barricade and letting the crowd have the mic.