What it’s like going to a club show (small venue concert)

What it’s like going to a club show (small venue concert):

You drive into the not nice, but not bad, part of the city and park in a random lot. You quickly visually check your seats to make sure nothing valuable is laying about, and then you hop over the puddles and walk along the cracked sidewalk. As you get close to the venue, you can see a line of people in dark hoodies, all standing in line. You get in line, and wait. A hobo might walk by and do a little song and dance for money. Around the corner, you can see the large shiny tour bus the group came in.

The line starts to move. As you get to the front, a random staff member with hardly any noticeable official identification gives you a quick pat down. You hand your ticket to the girl at the door, and she stamps your hand. The air is heavy, and your eyes adjust to the lack of light. Everything is flat black – the walls, the stage, the floor. People are milling about, some heading for the bar, others heading for the front.

You take up a position near the side, close enough to get a good view of the action, but not too close. The show is starting soon, and the room is starting to fill up. It smells slightly like a mix of alcohol, cigarettes, and sweat. The smell of a club show.

Staff in black t-shirts do a sound check, and then the lights dim. The opening back comes on, to sporadic cheers. The crowd is thicker now, but there is still room to move. The opener does their best to get everyone moving and energized, but the biggest cheer they get is when they ask, at the end of their set, if everyone is excited for the headliner. Then they disappear offstage, into more flat blackness.

The next band comes on, a few more people are interested, and a few more songs are sung along to. Then, they too, disappear into the blackness.

The faceless black shirted staff rearrange amplifiers and equipment for the second time, in preparation for the main band. At this point, there isn’t much room to move around. People are still coming in, and pressing their way forward, as far as they can get. The room smells like smoke and sweat and anticipation. The crowd starts cheering the headliner’s name, and a large cheer briefly rises as the sound check guy comes on stage. The cheer quickly dies down, as the crowd sees who it is.

“CHECK. CHECK. Checkone. Checkone. HEY. CHECK.”

The man disappears back into the bowels of backstage. The crowd’s restlessness starts to rise, and right then the lights black out. The crowd goes crazy, cheering and yelling. You can see shadows move onstage if you look hard enough. Then the lights blaze on, and the first notes sing out. Your whole body is filled with music, and the crowd moves you toward the stage. You can’t move on your own – the crowd is one large animal. It moves to the beat, and yells along to each song.

The lead singer leans out into the crowd, and hands reach for him. Somewhere on the side, a kid gets lifted up and starts crowdsurfing. A security guard pushes through the crowd to pull the kid down, but not before he loses a shoe. Somewhere else, a girl is lifted up, and starts crowdsurfing. She makes it to the front line of security guards. They help her down, and lead her away, to be released somewhere behind the crowd where there is room.

The front of the stage is packed with bodies moving, swaying, screaming. The lead singer whirls water out of a water bottle and people raise their hands and stick out their tongues to try and get some. The air is thick with sweat and elation. As the band moves through its setlist, the crowd soaks up every moment. The favorite or popular songs are played, the crowd yelling louder until people are hoarse and can’t hear themselves.

The band plays one last song, and then disappears offstage. If you’re lucky, and people chant enough, the band will come back on and play a few more songs, and then disappear again. The lights are turned back up, and right away, the mass starts to move toward the doors they came in. Security guards start to try and motion the crowd to exit. A group of fans try and hang around the stage to get shirts or tickets or CDs signed by the band, but are soon shooed away by security.

As you make your way to the exit, you notice the air gets better and colder the closer you get to the doors. You hadn’t noticed how stuffy it had gotten inside. You break out into the cold dark night, and breathe deep clean air. Your ears are ringing, and you can hardly talk from all the screaming along to songs. Your shirt sticks to you with sweat from your body mixed with sweat from the rest of the crowd around you. You shiver a little in the clean cold night air, as the sweat turns cold. Your friend tries to tell you something, but neither of you can talk or hear. You make your way back to your car with other smiling happy fans. There is a flyer stuck to your windshield wipers, and something that looks like long confetti on your roof. You and your friend get in your car, and sit for a minute. Exhaustion catches up as the adrenaline slowly drains out of your system. Soon you drive out of the parking lot, down the potholed street, and back onto the highway for the ride home.