Cultural Musings · Reflections

Surviving Crowds: A Flashback to Summer 2k15

It is HOT. Sweat is everywhere and I am fairly certain that my shoulders and cheeks are very sunburnt. But no one is complaining about the heat right now. It’s in between sets at a radio music festival, and when the Killers start playing on the speakers while they’re setting up for the next band, everyone starts singing along to the words until the recording is drowned out during the first chorus.

Not everyone knows every lyric, but the entire crowd is able to sing (in a loud jumble of on and off-beat voices) a near-deafening “WHEN YOU…WERE YOOOUUUUNG.”

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When the next band finally comes out to start their set, beach balls start flying over the crowd and even an inflatable orca whale is swimming through the sea of heads and hands before the end of the set.

I was able to get fairly close to the stage at this particular concert, not because I waited in line for hours or because I pushed my way through the middle. I stayed involved in the crowd while keeping a safe distance from the most obnoxious fans in the middle.

You know the ones. They pounded a couple of beers in the parking lot, maybe snuck in a flask or two, and are now pushing through the already tightly grouped mass of people exclaiming, “I’m trying to get to my friend,” but their friend must be a wizard because once they get to a good spot, they seem to disappear. Either that or they’re flailing their arms so much with their dancing that when they accidentally smack your friend in the face, she’ll wonder if she’ll wake up tomorrow with a bruise under her eye.

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My theory is this: stay at the sides of the crowd.

If you’re uncomfortable being jostled around by strangers but still want to be close to the stage, able to see the performers’ faces, this is the way to go. You can come in minutes before the show starts and wind through to the side of the stage. From there, it’s as simple as working your way as far inward as you want. It’s usually good to wait until the opener leaves and people start going to the bathroom before the headliner.

That’s the thing about crowds. As a whole, they can be subject to mob mentality, or the tendency to think alike. While this can be annoying at times, it’s important to use it to your advantage when you can. Humans are creatures of habit and most people wouldn’t want to leave in the middle of a set. So use the bathroom before you get your good spot, and try not to drink too much during the sets unless it’s water.

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(PSA: water can LITERALLY save your life, so don’t feel like you shouldn’t drink any to avoid the bathroom; even on the sidelines concerts can be gruelingly HOT so please stay hydrated)

If you’re in general admission, whether the venue is big or small, it’s sometimes better to hang back at the sides if you’re not into the more rowdy, energetic scene. No one will judge you for it, and you’ll probably have a better time when you’re not worried about the people around you.

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