At the risk of exposing myself as a less seasoned concert-goer than I’ve led many of my friends to believe I am, I have a confession to make.
Dear reader, I’m scared of mosh pits. Terrified, even.
That in mind, imagine my surprise when I found myself squished between a steel fence and two guys the size of my dad (he’s a pretty big dude), screaming my head off with hundreds of strangers who welcomed me like an old friend, and having the time of my life.
By the end of the night, drenched in water, sweat and likely a good amount of beer, and having had more than one grown man dropped on my head, I wanted nothing more than to do it all again.
I’m sure there’s some sort of medical diagnosis for that, but I think the layman’s term is, “I had a great time.”
When the show began with The Drew Thomson Foundation (which, by the way, is one of my favorite solo project names ever) picking up PUP’s guitars and beginning to play, I was understandably confused. The band later explained that they had been robbed a few days prior, and thanked PUP for letting them borrow instruments for the time being.
Thomson was exceedingly charismatic and had a great story to go with almost every song they played.
The second band that played was Screaming Females. Like The Drew Thomson Foundation before them, I had never listened to them before the show.
Their musicianship was incredible, and the frontwoman’s vocal delivery was really cool and engaging. However, she didn’t talk very much, and as a result, the set ended up feeling a bit impersonal and all sort of blended together, without any particularly memorable occurrences or interactions.
When it was finally time for PUP to take the stage, I was a bit worried. The show was sold out, and as such, I was running low on space with my back to the fence that divided the pit and the section behind it.
Despite the fact that, as mentioned before, I became intimately familiar with the feeling of a metal fence pushing into my spine, I had an absolute ball. Everyone else was screaming and jumping and pushing each other around, just like I was.
We were all having fun, but more than that, we were looking out for each other. When someone wanted to crowd-surf, we picked them up so they could. When someone needed out of the pit, we cleared a path. At one point, when someone dropped their phone, a girl I had met earlier who had “just moved here from Detroit, where we’re all f***ing nice to each other!” got on someone else’s shoulders to find who it belonged to and get it back to them.
Of course, that’s all without mentioning PUP’s performance. They were incredible.
The stage dynamic was amazing; all of the band members were moving around and having a good time, and between songs, they were all quick and witty with their stage banter. They weren’t just talking to the crowd, they were present and interacting with us.
By the end of the night, as I filed out with the ranks of the sweat-drenched and merch-clad, I realized something: even though we should have all been miserable, everyone around me was still beaming, as was I.
It was hot, it was crowded and it smelled awful. The more I think about it, though, the less I’m sure that was such a bad thing.
We could’ve all brought folding chairs and sat quietly while the band had their fun, and maybe I’d have been less sore and bruised in the morning, but that wasn’t what any of us came to do. We came to forget, if just for a moment, that there were ever any rules at all, and I’d be lying if by the end of the night I said I hadn’t.