When I was younger — much, much younger — I went to shows. Not a lot of shows, but there were a few here and there. I didn’t really much care about where I sat or stood, because at the time I was just interested in my experiences with music and not really so much about interaction with the people making the music. But really, live music was a different thing then. We’re talking about a time when it was still illegal in Cincinnati to sell general admission tickets for live shows. Interestingly, although I loved music — always have, always will — I didn’t really give much of a shit about the interactive side of music until I was a little bit older. Luckily for me, that interest showed up right around the time that people started staging festivals like Lollapalooza and (in Canada) Edgefest on a regular basis. Those were the days when I’d wind up spending the day after a night-shift hanging out at one of those festivals instead of sleeping and preparing for the next night-shift. In retrospect, totally irresponsible and incredibly fucking stupid. At the time, awesome. But yeah … that pit. You’re always with your family in the pit. When you’re surfing and you drop six feet from head height straight onto your back, you can be pretty sure that any number of hands will be there reaching down to get you back onto your feet and to make sure that you’re not hurt down there. Most of the time, people don’t go in the pit to fight. They don’t go in there to get hurt. They’re in there to have fun and have a great time. I’ll tell you, though. Being in the pit now is kind of a different thing. The rules, such as they are, are more or less the same, but it looks like there are just way more assholes at shows. Or maybe it’s that they were all already there, and now that I’m drinking way less, I get to see them more.
Asshole number one: the dude that pushes his way from the back of the GA section right up to the barricade, or at least as close to the front as he can get. Holy fuck. I hate this dude. Everyone paid the same amount of money to see these bands, and some folks were dedicated enough to show up early and stand in line forever for the chance to get close to the stage. And then here you come. You dick. Don’t do that. Don’t be a dick. Everyone knows that you don’t have a friend by the barricade who’s holding a spot for you. Go back to the bar and buy yourself a beer. You can hear and see everything just fine from there. Did I mention that you’re being a dick, you dick?
Asshole number two: the fucker who holds spots in line for eighteen of his favourite friends, all of whom inevitably wind up standing right in front of you in the pit. This is just the shittiest, shittiest move to pull. I get it if you’re meeting one or two other people at the venue. But I remember being at a show in Houston one time. When we showed up, there were no more than a dozen or so people ahead of us in line. By the time the doors opened, we were about fifty people deep, because friends-of-friends just kept showing up. Be considerate, people. Show up early. If you don’t, then you get your ass to the back of the line and you’ll figure out a spot near the barricade next time. When you don’t do that, you’re a dick, and so are your friends. Dicks.
Asshole number three: you’re the dude who’s having just a little too much fun in the circle pit. Look. The pit is an awesome time. But there’s always gonna be a core set of people about five rows deep from the barricade who are just not going to join in when the circle pit forms. When your 90-kilogram ass goes cannoning into that group, people are gonna get hurt. Please, please try to remember that people have fun in different ways, and that the people at the edge of that circle — especially the edge closest to the stage — won’t be facing you, won’t see you coming, and won’t always love being pummelled unexpectedly. So please try and keep yourself a tiny bit more to yourself so that we can all have fun together, you energetic, fun-loving bastard. And you know, you’re actually probably not a dick.
Asshole number four (part one): there are two varieties of this person, and it always starts the same way — with one or two or five too many trips to the bar. You’ll do one or all of these things: you’ll spill your drink all over someone, or you’ll stumble and weave all over and push people all over the place, or (and this is just the best) you’ll be one of those drunks who wants to start beef with someone. Or with everyone. Probably with one of the people that you bumped into or with the fortunate soul who’s enjoying the feel of your ninth drink soaking into their clothing. Holy Christ, are you a dick. There’s a time and a place to be that hammered. This ain’t it. I don’t care how sorry you are about your spilled drink. You’re not the one whose clothing just turned into Michelob Swamp, you dick.
Asshole number four (part two): this person is the worst, and they will commit the most egregious party foul possible in the pit. For this person, drink number nine will be one drink too many, and they will vomit in the pit. This can go two different ways. If this goes well — HAHAHAHA! — then our happy hurler will retain enough control to lean over and aim at the floor. If it goes as badly as these things so often do, someone else gets to wear a stranger’s stomach contents all the way home. If this is you — if you are Peter (or Pauline) the puking prince(ss) — then I hope that someone someday leaves an open bag of vomit to ferment in your car all day long on the hottest day of the summer when you’re unable to find a parking spot in the shade. You’re a whole bag of dicks, you dick.
None of those people will ever stop me from hanging out in the pit. Mostly because I’m asshole number five. I’m the sanctimonious, self-righteous dick who’s silently judging you. Have fun at the show!