I've made a habit of going to a lot of rock concerts. In fact, I've seen shows all over the country. I've flown to Las Vegas, road-tripped with friends to Alabama, and taken day trips to Boston and New York just to see bands. When I'm not concert-going solo, I usually take along She Eats Planets' lead singer Sara Hart.
We make a point of trying to be front row for the bands we really care about (The Donnas, Bayside, etc.). Being up front is nothing short of amazing. I've shared microphones with The Donnas' Brett Anderson, been handed guitar picks, and had water sprayed on me by Allison Robertson (of The Donnas). Being up front, however, also has it's drawbacks.
Depending on the venue and the night's crowd being in the front row can really be hazardous to your health (and sometimes your sanity). I've been smashed into monitors, had my fingers crushed between metal gates, punched in the back, kicked in the neck, and kicked in the face. I've had drunk people use me as their personal leaning post and some very drunk people nearly vomit on me. The front row is definitely a lot of fun but sometimes I wonder if it's worth it.
Following my last concert adventure (Bayside with I Am the Avalance in Boston), Sara and I came to the same conclusion: We hate crowdsurfers and if we were the band on the stage we'd never allow it. For the people up front, crowdsurfers are obnoxious. They cause disruption and require constant security presence. As an audience member you spend more time worrying about someone kicking you in the head than you do enjoying the show.
My attitude has changed.
On President's Day, SEP took the stage at New Haven's legendary Toad's Place. Toad's Place has hosted artists like Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, U2, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Huey Lewis and the News, Bon Jovi, Pat Benatar, and my personal favorite, The Donnas. They've also hosted She Eats Planets on at least five occasions. Admittedly we love Toad's Place. The room is terrific, the sound is great, and typically we get a great crowd reaction that we don't get from bars and other venues. The President's Day show was no exception.
We took the stage and opened with what has become a common opener for us, a tune penned around a riff I wrote called "Shut Up (I Love You)." It didn't take long for the room to explode with kids dancing, jumping up and down, and reaching onto the stage. By the time we were three songs in, doing a cover of the R-rated version of Cee Lo Green's "Forget You" with help from our friend Nick of the local band Anchors Away, we had kids climbing onto each other's shoulders and attempting to crowdsurf. From the stage perspective, that's incredible. To see that kind of enthusiasm and energy simply manifesting before your eyes is really outrageous and makes you want to perform better and with more enthusiasm.
I have a whole new respect for crowdsurfers. Thank you for showing your enthusiasm (but please be careful!)