Concerts and the cool quotient

by Jason Gross

4 October 2007


Interesting item from am New York (NYC area free daily paper) a few days ago which was supposed to appear in their blogs but only actually appears in their print edition:

“Here’s something that occurred to me last night.  The time of arrival at a concert is directly related to how cool a given concertgoer is, with later being cooler.  The distance from the stage is also directly related to coolness, with closer being cooler.  BUT the later one arrives, the less karmically cool it is to then push one’s way to the front.  Ideal solution: Be a VIP, come late and flash your credentials as you make your way through the jealous crowd.”
That made me think about which perch I pick out at NYC clubs.  I admit that I do like to stand near the back but (honestly!) I’m not thinking ‘this is a good distance where I can look cool and disengaged’, partially because I never look that way even if I tried.  I’m usually thinking ‘I don’t wanna get crowded near the front.’  If I am up closer and I wanna leave early, I give myself extra time to make my way out.  Also, since I don’t like to wait to leave at the very end with big crowds, which can take a while to filter out of a big venue, I leave a little early too because of that sometimes.

I admit that being back and on the outskirts takes away from some of the excitement sometimes.  When you’re in the middle of a good crowd who’s really into the music or at/near the front, you get a more exciting experience.  Unfortunately, you also get crowded badly sometimes- I don’t know why but I’m just a magnet for pushy jerks with barnyard manners.  I know, I know- why the hell should I expect high-culture etiquette at rock or pop shows?  That’s why I like hanging at the outskirts though it’s also fun to wander around when there’s room to get different perspectives of the show- up close or far back, right side or left side, floor or balcony (if there’s one there).

I don’t even mind the volume, even being near the speakers.  If you have a good pair of earplugs, that ain’t an issue (I use and endorse Earlove).

As for timing, that’s a legit issue.  Do you really wanna hang out at a club you usually wouldn’t at be for a few hours just to see one band at the tail end of the evening?  The Knitting Factory (three floors plus a separate bar) is a good place to hang out but most other clubs don’t offer a good place to hang out in (Wetlands’ basement was great for that and Irving Plaza has decent lounge downstairs too).  That’s why I try to find out set times to know when to show up. 

Also, consider how long it takes to get out to a club and get back and you’ll know why it’s good to figure this out.  We have less and less free time nowadays so why waste it? (I’m lucky because I live pretty close to two clubs but otherwise, it’s something I gotta factor in with time).  Of course, you learn which places do put bands on during their times and which don’t- Irving Plaza is great at this while you always have to add 30-60 minutes to set times at Mercury Lounge (my theory- they want you to buy more booze while waiting).

VIP area?  Wouldn’t know about that- only visited a few of them but they only offer a slightly less-crowded, better vantage point.

Seating?  If that’s available and I’ll be there at a show for a while, then it’s definitely something I’m on the look out for.  Don’t laugh- you’ll be doing the same before you know it, young hipster.  Admittedly though, I stood around for three hours last night watching Danbert Nobacon and the Mekons and felt no pain.  It helped that it was a really good show.  It also helped that the club was just down the block from where I live…

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