I had the opportunity to see the Gin Blossoms 25th Anniversary Tour of “New Miserable Experience”. The event was in a small theater venue and our seats were up front but off to the side. It was a small enough venue that we were within 2 steps of the stage, and the band was excellent! Time has not taken away from their talent, and it is always refreshing to see a band that has managed to maintain their original integrity and skill.
The majority of the crowd appeared to be within my age range or older, but there were some younger fans scattered amongst the gray hair and soft middles. There were definitely some characters and as fate would have it, my seat was right in line with one of the security guards for the evening. He was at least 6’3 and held a menacing demeanor. My girlfriend, who has been to this venue several times, whispered to me, “Bummer, that guy takes his job so seriously, we will never be able to get up and walk the 4 feet to the stage without him sternly sending us back to our assigned seats.”
I watched as he stood there, arms folded and glaring at the crowd. As the band entered the stage, people around us stood, some moved forward to take pictures and as my friend had suggested, “Dudley Do Right”, moved in swiftly and sharply pointing people back to their place. With the exception of a few V.I.P. guests seated immediately in front of the band, most of the crowd remained seated , hoping to avoid the glare or wrath of the zealot security guard.
His presence was so impacting that the lead singer finally spoke up and told the crowd that “This is a rock concert, not a movie, stand up and join us at the stage.” Even after that invitation, only a few people came forward and took some pics, quickly returning to their seats and those seated in the center aisles sheepishly began to stand and clap. But there I sat with “Dudley” 3 feet in front of me. I could spy the corner of the stage that I wanted to go to, but I had to traverse right past him and even then I would be shoulder to shoulder with him.
I have a reputation for having a dance style like the character “Elaine” from Seinfeld. All I could think of was that if I actually got the courage to jump up and move to the stage corner with my eclectic dance moves, “Dudley” would have an elbow in his eye and I would be escorted out of the building. So I sat there in my seat watching this amazing band , tentatively clapping my hands and my feet were shuffling with stilted energy.
If you have ever seen the movie “Happy Feet”, it is a movie about a little penguin who is different than the others. While the other penguins all sing angelically and in order, “Happy Feet” moves convulsively in place when he hears music, as he attempts to suppress his natural response to the music. It is a sweet movie, if you haven’t seen it. So I sat convulsively moving in my seat and although I enjoyed the band, it all felt awkward, and I thought this isn’t quite how I pictured this experience in my head as I drove to the concert earlier that evening.
Then something happened, a young man who was probably in his twenties suddenly stormed the stage and leaped up at the feet of the lead guitarist. “Dudley” was on it and that poor young man was dragged off swiftly and escorted out by 2 security guards and a police man. I have a feeling that he had a rough night, and I hope that he is okay and that he isn’t charged too severely for his “zealous” response to the evening. The thing is, that moment changed the rest of the evening. I realized that I didn’t have to sit convulsively in my seat in a stoical state. (Yes, I am aware that this statement is an oxymoron, but if you knew me, you would understand .)
I jumped to my feet and did my best “Elaine” dance and even moved to the corner stage. I even got to “High Five” the lead singer, Robin Wilson.”Dudley” was definitely within my elbow shot, but thankfully, there were no black eyes on either of our part. The concert was excellent, The Gin Blossoms wrapped it up with an awesome tribute song to Tom Petty, which of course made me even more impressed with the evening.
Social etiquette can be so complicated, there is a spectrum within which we all try to fit. For some it is easier than others, and in some cases there are extremes that in all truth for the sake and safety of the crowd, we need to respectfully curb. The young man who stormed the stage created a genuine safety risk for himself ( highly inebriated) and for the band and other concert goers. I understand why there is a need to keep some degree of order, hence “Dudley”.
The rest of the evening, “Dudley” was much more relaxed and less intense towards the crowd. He only approached people to disperse if they lingered too long in areas that had potential to create a hazard risk. I had a great time, and I actually wonder if perhaps “Dudley” did as well. He wasn’t all that bad after all….