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Why Can’t I Stand At The Back?

At 23, there aren’t many places where I feel old. I do feel old at gigs, though. I’m not old, but people and bands think I act old – that’s the problem.

Deaf Havana

Source: JPS Images/ Joe Strudwick

At 23, there aren’t many places where I feel old. I don’t feel old at work, I don’t feel old down the pub, I don’t feel old at the football. I do feel old at gigs, though. I’m not old, but people and bands think I act old – that’s the problem.

Being 23 at a gig has its positives. Most of the crowd are under-18, so I can nip to the bar and back with ease. The bar is usually at the back, too, so I can park myself in a good spot with a good view, good access to the bar, toilets, and fire exits, all with enough room to swing a cat in. Ironically, the ones mimicking the act of swinging a cat are crammed in at the front with barely any room to swing.

So, in my mind, I’m stood at the back, winning. Most frontmen do not think so, though. Almost every gig I’ve been to in the last year, I’ve been categorised as a “pussy”, among other similar insults, by insecure frontmen who obsess over a falsified correlation between distance from the stage and fan loyalty. These words don’t offend me, they just make me continually question – why can’t I stand at the back?

I’ve heard numerous soliloquies from vocalists, telling me I can wear what I want, I can listen to what I want, I can be who I want. It’s a positive message, no doubt, but means next to nothing when, one or two songs later, the same ego tells me I need to move forward because I can’t stand at the back. Hang on. I can be who I want as long as I’m stood at the fucking front? Logical philosophy.

They want to build an atmosphere; that’s a given. I don’t blame them for wanting to do that, but their assumptions rile me. The noun “fun” usually creeps into the same speech, implying the community at the back are not having fun. But I am. I’m not guarding my vulnerable pint like it’s the One Ring, and I’m not covered in someone else’s, either. My brothers and I are having a good time.

As I said, I’m not alone at the back. After opening this topic out for discussion, I found out that another of MOSH’s staff writers, Callum Thomson, stands with me:

I don’t think it’s entirely fair for lead vocalists and front men to berate those standing at the back at gigs for one reason and one reason only, your habits change and how you enjoy the music changes as well. When I started going to gigs I was the precocious little twat running around getting into every pit he see’s, but now it’s changed. As I’ve grown older and my interest in music has evolved I prefer to stand back away from the ruckus and enjoy the music a bit more. I don’t want to be crushed up the front if my main goal is to listen to some of my favourite tracks live, or even when I’m there to review the band themselves I want to be able to judge them more instead of the crowd.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be part of a massive mosh pit, hell for certain bands, or even certain tracks I truly can’t stop myself from running in head first and getting sweaty as hell, but that’s not the be all and end all. Just because I’m sitting back and enjoying it a different way doesn’t mean I’m not enjoying it, and by Christ I’ll sing the songs as well, but now about 75% of the time I don’t have the energy or drive to do it all the time anymore. More power to those that can spend a 90 minute set right in the centre, but there are those of us who nowadays prefer something a bit more personal.”

I am old enough to know that at the next gig I attend, I’ll get called a pussy, but I am also old enough to stand firm (physically and mentally) at the back to ensure that I have fun.

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