Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Concert Wallflower

I went to two concerts this past week. The first one was for a singer-songwriter named Meiko, who I've blogged about before. Meiko's concert was held at Lincoln Hall, which is half bar, half concert hall. Tickets were only fifteen dollars apiece. It was great because I was able to get a seat in the balcony, and I had a perfect view of the stage. During the concert, I felt a little self-conscious, because most of the other people there were with dates or friends, and I was alone. Most people I know don't like my taste in music, ever since I went through my boy band phase when I was a teenager and I can still name that Britney Spears song in three notes.

(Side note: A few days later, I told one person about the concert, and the first question she asked was, "Who'd you go with?" She thought it was weird that I went by myself. But the truth is, I like going to stuff like concerts, museums, and bookstores on my own, because then I can decide where I want to go, how long to stay, and what to do.)

After the concert, I stood in a long line and got Meiko's autograph and my picture taken with her. I was too shy to say much to her, but she was very nice. (I'd post my picture with her on this blog, but then people would know who I am and what I look like. Not to mention I'm not very photogenic. I'm always afraid that people will look at my picture and think, Hmm. Are they doing a remake of the movie Gremlins?)

The second one was held at North Halsted Market Days, which is a summer festival that is held every year in Lakeview, my favorite neighborhood in Chicago. Lakeview is also known as Boystown, and it's the one place in Chicago where guys always look at my face rather than my chest when they talk to me.

When I walked through the festivals, I saw a bunch of muscular, shirtless guys dancing around in tight shorts. I couldn't help thinking of that line from Coleridge's poem, "Water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink," because all those guys were gay. 

The band Karmin performed in the second concert. It was a lot more crowded than Meiko's concert, probably because Karmin is more well-known and Market Days is a popular festival. I had to stand in a crowd of people the whole time, and during the concert I came up with a few things that I wish I could have said to my fellow concert-goers:

1. Don't smoke during an outdoor concert. Maybe you don't mind getting lung cancer, but I'd like to live long enough to see aliens take over the world, or at least long enough to see all the reality shows get cancelled.
During the concert, several people were smoking. Since it was so crowded, that meant everybody else had to breathe in the cigarette smoke, which is why I thought it was inconsiderate of the smokers to light up. It's like, I like onions, but I'm not going to eat a bunch of onion rings and breathe them on everyone. I felt tempted to pour my can of soda (I was one of the only people not drinking beer) over the cigarettes of the people smoking, but then I got an image of newspaper headlines saying something like: NEUROTIC WORKAHOLIC ATTACKS SMOKERS WITH SODA, CAUSES RIOT. So I figured I shouldn't do it.

2. The singers are not going to go out with you. During the concert, several of the guys kept calling out to the male half of the band, a keyboard player named Nick. The guys kept yelling, "Take your shirt off!" A girl nearby said, "He's straight." (He's also engaged to the female half of the band, a singer/rapper named Amy.) The guys all replied, "It doesn't matter."

It made me think of Meiko's concert, where several of the guys tried to hit on Meiko. When she was talking between songs, one of the guys kept yelling out, "I'll take you out for a beer!" I couldn't help wondering if any of those come-ons ever worked.

3. Don't sit on your friend's shoulders. Whenever I go to a movie, I am often struck by the Big Head Curse, meaning I often get stuck sitting behind someone with an enormous head. Most of the people at the concert were guys, and most of them were taller than me. That would have been okay, except one guy standing in front of me sat on top of his friend's shoulders for half the concert, so that it was difficult for me to see the band. I thought about asking him to get down or pushing him down to the ground if he said no, but then I saw those news headlines again: NEUROTIC WORKAHOLIC GOES ON RAMPAGE, CAUSES RIOT.

During Karmin's concert, several people started dancing around me. I can dance in the classes at my gym, but that's only because we're all doing the same dance moves. But when everyone started dancing at the concert, I felt like I was frozen. I was one of the only people who was just standing there. I wanted to dance, because it looked like fun and I liked the music. And a couple of the gay guys kept trying to dance with me, because they were nice. But I just smiled and stood there. I've never been very good in social situations like that. I always just feel awkward.

I can't help wondering if that awkwardness stems from the fact that I'm shy around people I don't know, or if it's one of the things about being an adult. When I was a kid, I didn't care if anyone heard me singing at the top of my lungs, and if I felt like dancing, I did it. But now that I am an adult, I can't help worrying about how people would look at me and what they would say. I know I shouldn't care, and most of the time I don't. After all, if I did care that much about what people thought, I'd wear makeup and dresses, drink alcohol, and go to bars and clubs instead of bookstores and coffeehouses. But I think that as far as dancing in public goes, I still have to work up the courage. Maybe next time.

What about you? Do you ever feel self-conscious in social situations like that? Do you think that people should abide by certain concert etiquette, and if so, what kinds of rules would you come up with?

And in honor of the musicians, here's the video for Karmin's hit single, "Brokenhearted":

Here's the video for Meiko's new song, "Leave the Lights On".


  1. That's weird that anyone would comment on your attending by yourself - what's wrong with that? Are you supposed to miss seeing a band you love just because no one you know likes them? You might even meet people at a concert :-)

    1. Hi Deniz,
      More than one person I know has made remarks about the fact that I like to go out on my own, but then again these people are the type who never want to go anywhere on their own. I don't think I could be like that, because then I might miss out on interesting things.

  2. Wait, you mean all those rock stars aren't searching for me in a crowd to date? Crap.

    1. Hi Libby,
      It would be cool to go to a concert of a cute guy singer and be pulled out of the crowd, as long as he didn't serenade me in front of everyone, because that would be kind of cheesy.

  3. I think there's nothing wrong with going alone to dinner or a cafe or a concert. What's the difference?

    I get awkward in social situations where I don't know anyone either. Writing conferences were stressful for me until I built up a bunch of friends to hang with.

    Yeah, smoking is annoying. And I used to be a smoker. I hate smelling it now.

    1. Hi Theresa,
      I think it would be fun to go to a writing conference, but I would probably be shy at first too.
      I got used to going on my own to certain places in college, when a lot of people my age went to bars and parties on the weekends. I wasn't interested in doing that kind of thing every weekend, and most of my friends didn't want to go to museums or plays. So I went on my own rather than miss out on the experience, and I liked it.

  4. commonsense etiquette seems to be a tad lacking in today's world. It's a shame because everything would be so much better with it... AND there'd be less riots ;)

    1. Hi Lynda,
      It really would be so nice if people were more well-mannered and considerate of each other. If they were, I'd be a lot less neurotic. :)