Friday, 19 August 2011

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Why We'll Still Go To Concerts

As a frequent concert attender, I'm not too fond of seeing all the stage collapses that have been occurring lately.  I've spent way more than my share of time standing at the front of these stages, and to be honest the thought of something landing on top of me never really entered my mind.  I always figured that if I was going to be crushed to death at a concert, it would be from the people behind me and not the equipment above me.

I've had my share of incidents at concerts.  I had my shirt set on fire by a souped up spinning windmill at a Def Leppard concert (It was the Pyromania tour.  That should have been a hint.)  I was fairly close to a light that fell at a ZZ Top concert.  Somebody hit me
in the head with a bottle at an Echo and the Bunnymen show and I was at a Midnight Oil concert that was called off when lightning struck just outside the stadium.  The worst was at a Billy Idol/Platinum Blonde concert where the organizers decided to protect the gym floor by laying plywood across it.  It only took a couple of songs before the people on the outside of the floor realized that the plywood acted as a trampoline, and that by jumping up and down on the edges they could double bounce the people in the middle of the room.  It only lasted a short while until the plywood cracked, but for a brief moment there was some serious Cirque du Billy Idol going on down front.

The stage is usually the least of my concerns though.  I've been backstage at a few shows, and I've worked on the construction crew of a couple others.  There are some pretty strict rules when it comes to putting the stage together, and no matter how tight for time we were, I've never seen anybody cutting corners.  The stage is designed to have a little sway at the top, but it's pretty darn solid at the bottom, and I've never felt unsafe standing on one.  Of course I've never been on an outdoor stage in the middle of a storm either.

We've started taking our kids to concerts these days, and our safety concerns are reflected by our seat selection.  There will be no more purchasing of floor seats (actually my wife vetoed those after an unfortunate exhibit of seat destruction at a Motley Crue concert) and we usually grab those safe side seats on the lower level where the stage would literally have to leap across the arena to even land a glancing blow on us.  I've noticed though, that when you sit further back, the sway of the stage is much more noticeable.  We took our kids to a Lady Gaga concert earlier this year (Why yes, it did require some explaining afterwards.  Thank you for asking.) and up until the show started we spent our time watching the top of the stage move from side to side and wondering if those adventurous souls climbing up to the rafters to man the spotlights were really brave or really crazy.  After seeing the show, it turned out that the crazy people were on the stage, thus making the spotlight workers brave by default.

I started going to concerts when I was 13 (My first show was Triumph for $11.25.  That won't even get me a drink at a concert these days.) and by the end of high school I had been to almost 200 shows.  The beauty of being young, was that safety never really occurred to me.  The burden of being a parent, is that it has to.  I have way too many great memories of my concert going youth to not expose my kids to the excitement of live music.  We're just going to do it from a few rows further back.


  1. I was at that Def Leopard concert! Didn't realize you were the flameboy down front :)

  2. LOL. Yeah I used up one of my nine lives and five of my fifteen minutes of fame that night.