General Admission: Where a Normal, Non Violent Person Can Turn Into a Killer
I hate general admission tickets. I hate standing like sardines next to strangers who are always vying for a better view. I hate the groups of bottom dwellers that come out of the underworld to torture me and my enjoyment of the concert.
More specifically I hate:
The couple who decides to practically make a baby in front of me (seriously, get a room).
The guy who needs to go the bar 10 separate times for a beer (if you stop spilling half of it on me, then it might last a bit longer).
The 10 foot tall dude dancing like he is in a freaking remake of Flashdance.
The girlfriends who pretend to have friends up in the front (nice try ladies).
The boyfriend who says his short girlfriend can’t see (back off casanova, I’m only 5’4”).
The Dad who claims he has to get closer so his 8 year old can see (that’s low, using your child like that, but THAT kid got up on stage with Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros to sing a song…well played Daddy, well played).
The group of friends that decides to TALK through the whole set (honestly, why are you even here).
The “I am going to use my phone to record every song” person (because the video and sound quality will be soooo good, you wanker, put the stupid phone down and just LISTEN).
Maybe it’s just California (my experience with GA outside California is limited to Dublin, Ireland for an R.E.M concert, and those Irish are lovely), but I envision other states harmoniously grooving together in some kumbaya moment while the band plays on joyously. The problem is I love music so much that I understand that GA sections are sometimes unavoidable and even a necessary evil (seriously U2…tickets for an actual good seat are out of control), so I do my best to block out the idiots and enjoy the night when ever I am forced to GA-it (yes, that’s now a word).
But given how I loathe this standing only section and the typical minions that dwell there, it’s a good thing I am not a violent person.
I repeat: I am not a violent person.
So it came as a complete shock when I was involved in a fight in the general admission section of a Mumford and Sons concert…that’s right, where banjos and accordions are played and hipster beards and boots surround you.
Fact: if you are stupid enough to try to weasel your way up to the FRONT TWO ROWS in general admission (see above for list of contending idiots), then you are gonna get your hair pulled.
I had seen Mumford and Sons several times in the GA section prior to June 2013 and had no intentions of fighting the crowds of riff raff fans again. I only planned on seeing this particular show because it was in my hometown city. My husband refused to come because it wasn't worth paying a babysitter and he too was tired of GA. So my two other girlfriends, Kim and Annie (who happen to be sisters) planned to go with me and like all good thirty somethings, we left early to avoid traffic and parking crowds.
And this was the pivotal decision of the night.
We enjoyed a leisurely tailgate (who says a tailgate can’t be civilized with margaritas) and planned to meander in and hang out towards the back of the crowd and enjoy the music. But much to our surprise, when we did finally head in minutes before the opening band went on, the GA section was a cavernous wasteland.
There was no crowd.
There was no riff raff.
Only one row of people leaning on the railing was taken. There wasn’t a decision to be made. We could walk up and be in the second row without fighting off anyone. We took our spot just slightly stage right behind a nice group of friends who appeared to be a safe bet.
As we greeted the people in front of us, we were slowly flanked by a Dad and his teenage son to the right, some 20 something hipster guys to our left and a really nice couple behind us who had never seen Mumford before. As GA goes, we were in good shape.
This became our little platoon, our regimen, our battalion, preparing for what would come. We few, we band of brothers; vowing to save spots while we ran to the bathroom, pledging loyalty and friendship and strategizing for the influx of people behind us.
After a few minutes of chatting, it was quickly discovered that the lack of people was due to a massive spill/accident on the freeway and therefore our pre-planning landed us second row surrounded by people who were equally stoked to have lucked out.
But alas, the pissed off crowds that had been stuck in traffic eventually filled in with the normal cast of characters. Because this was not my first time to the rodeo, I knew the lull before the storm occurred during the period of purgatory when the opening acts finish and the headlining band loads in. I knew that the second Michael Kiwanuka finished his last syllable, the push and maneuvering from the back would begin.
But we had a plan.
Our strategy was to “get big” in a defensive position by linking arms and lowering our center of gravity. As a marking defender for a Division I women’s soccer team I knew about defense. And my experience came in handy. We quickly felt the surge from behind and the apologies from our new friends around us. There were words of encouragement shared in solidarity that no one would get through to the front. We were in this together.
We were at war.
And then it happened.
A recognizable drunk girl screech from behind us, “Excuse me…excuse me!” And as if caught in the line of unsuspected enemy fire, the couple behind us, froze. The enemy sensed their weakness and preyed on their lack of sufficient defensive experience. The couple looked sheepishly at her, looked at us, looked are her and then broke ranks.
I couldn’t believe it. Betrayed, abandoned…forgivable, but betrayed none the less.
“Excuse me, I have friends in the front,” Drunk Girl yelled into my ear at point blank range. Ah yes, the classic “I am meeting friends in the front” trick. Not this time Drunk Girl and not when there is only one person in front of me who has no idea who you are.
To my right, Kim told Drunk Girl there was no one in the front row waiting for her but she could keep going behind us. We buckled down low, stuck out our rear ends and all began to tell her to move on. She staggered behind me and ran into Annie’s backside to my left.
We thought we were rid of her as she stumbled behind us, but we kept out defenses up just in case.
And then it got real.
In a fit of confusion Drunk Girl turned back towards us and lunged/stumbled across my back, windmilling her arms while trying to claw at Kim, exclaiming, “That girl cut me! That girl cut me”! I yelled, “What girl”? And all at once, like a sniper bullet hitting from an undisclosed tower from my left, Annie yanked Drunk Girl by the hair and yelled, “Don’t touch my sister.” And it can’t be overstated this was not some prissy hair pull, this was the type of hair yank that can precede eye clawing. I began yelling at the security worker directly in front of me for some help, but he was unmoved by my plea. Drunk Girl staggered back with a look of bewilderment because she was so drunk that she couldn’t figure out who pulled her hair.
I’m not sure if it was the sudden shock of sweet Annie turned hair puller, or the fact that I started yelling for security, but our army came to our aid and like a tsunami surging toward the shore (better late than never people), Drunk Girl was pushed further to the left. And hard.
But believe it or not, Drunk Girl gathered herself one more time and tried a second assault from our left flank a few minutes later, but the army banded together quickly this time chanting to the security ,”Kick her out, kick her out”!
And they did. Justice served Drunk Girl.
As the adrenaline wore off we all realized the insanity of this GA moment. We laughed at the stupidity of it all and triumphantly patted each other on the back. And, oh yeah, there was a concert to enjoy.
The moral to this story is simple children: general admission tickets suck.