Saturday, 9 November 2013

I went to this gig last night.

I went to this gig last night. 

I've been to a few recently - (Please at the Star & Shadow, Gnod in Shipley, Sambalifax in Boothtown at the memorial to Dan) - and they've been great. Even though recent gigs have often been poorly attended, the live gig culture of Newcastle is one of the most rewarding things about living in this city. It's been a constant source of revival and edification since I first arrived in 'ninety four.

So I went to this gig last night, and it was after a work meal where all the booze was paid for, and I was in good spirits although it'd been a long day (we'd gone out walking near Wooler, and it was a long drive back). These kind of things - mental pressures, tiredness, diet and company - are major factors in what I get out of a gig. Sometimes I get very little, and it's almost always my own fault - I'm too sober, too preoccupied, too fed up or inalert, etc.

This particular gig was at the Head of Steam, which I love, and it was packed and buzzing like I expected it to be. It was pigspigspigspigspigspigspigs supporting the cosmic dead, both decent bands and for a cheap entry price too. I took a friend (who's a colleague) with me after the work meal, so I had ongoing good interaction that meant I didn't get remotely down when I saw a couple of faces in the crowd who I don't have good vibes about. I was on an up, I got a drink, I watched the band, I hallo'd those folk I knew who were stood nearby and it was a good enough set. Not the best experience I've had of seeing pigs play but that's because there's been some amazing shows before, which it would be hard to beat.

But what happened was this, and it's something that I want to get out. I had moments of flashback this morning - the ones that make you groan inside (there's also some blank periods that my housemates have told me about). I didn't actually do anything major, I don't think I've lost a friend or made anyone's life worse. In general I am a very easygoing drunk, and I'm happily not one of those who're filled with frustration and who give off aggressive or destructive vibes the whole time. The first thing that goes is my slurring speech and the second things are usually sleepiness and an over-confiding tongue. And I should say, too, that this little tale from last night doesn't fill me with real shame exactly - well it does, but just a kind of shame that I'm not too ashamed of. A bit of 'hang your head in shame' is an essential part of a healthy life story, I think.

I must've got a bit cocky somehow, inside. Outwardly I was just nodding along and enjoying stuff, but I must've had some belligerence stored up in me, because I was noticing in annoyance when some folk were walking in without paying. And the doorman chap was lovely, and why should I care if some people see the last band for free, and when did it get to be any of my business anyway? One particular guy came in, rolling a bit, and I picked up on someone else's conversation about him, maybe even misheard it, about him being trouble or something. And a bit later I saw him at the front and was he doing anything wrong? I don't remember, I don't think I really saw, it was more a thing internal to me than something pressed on me by events. But I got it in my head that he was being an arse/in the way/pushing people around at the front and I said to a friend 'is that guy being a dick?' to which I got some fairly noncommital 'probably' response. And then I think I kind've stared this guy out and when he tried to get back to the front I think I blocked him with my back and then I essentially pushed him out of the middle bit of the crowd, with my back to him. And don't expect any drama to follow this because there was none. It's the internal sequence of events that I'm trying to place into words. 

I don't normally do that kind of thing - I'm timid and beta and generally full of good will & acceptance. So what makes me start thinking like a gig policeman? Who am I to judge, act aggressively or whatever against some unknown bloke? And what does it say about my sense of who I am?

There's a notorious man on my street, his name begins with G and he's a tosser. Everyone knows he's a tosser. He shows us he's a tosser all the time. He used to be the neighbourhood watch man and when he was in a bad mood he'd give people grief. He threw his weight around, stared you out when you walked past, and when a housemate of mine had a little birthday gathering (no sound system, no trouble), he banged on the door at 10.30pm to tell them off for talking loudly. Then he 'patrolled' the street, staring in at the window and hassling anyone else arriving. What a cock. He's since been chucked off the neighbourhood watch and gone a bit invisible, but he still looms large in my head for being such an obvious, easily-identified dickhead.

And it was like him, that I guess I was acting, thinking, and developing last night. When I came downstairs from the bar and that guy who I'd blocked was leaving, I had a go at the lovely doorman, saying 'he's a wanker, don't let him in' or something. In fact I think I was sufficiently drunk in the mouth that I actually would've said "he's wanker, shouldna leddim trouble nn".
But who did I think I was? 

I am so sorry you lovely doorguy. You were so into the band and you shouldn't have to put up with arseholes like me. I was the one who was drunk and aggro (even though it was mainly in my head), and thank god that it's hardly ever happened before. I did get into a street scrap last year on a drunken wander home, but that was equally safe really. I was telling some lads off for being rude! It's been a good fifteen years since I last got punched, and then it was from behind, by strangers. And I have never in my life thrown a punch.

But even me too - in that little way that my thoughts and emotions and sense-of-self developed last night - I became the kind of man who I wish I never meet. But we do meet them. They can ruin a good crowd, can self-righteous belligerent or bilious cocks. And it had nothing really to do with being a superhero crowd-saving persona, either (although I did stop a fight once when I was drunk, by grabbing two lads by the shoulders and telling them to 'stop being so childish and sort it out, we're trying to hear the act' - many years ago now). It was to do with creating a scenario in my head (possibly underscored by that particular kind of rock-ish music and of course the booze): a scenario in which you've identified a person who deserves your aggro : ie. one of your fellow crowd members is a legitimate target, who has made themselves the bad guy who therefore deserves a 'justice reckoning' storyline landing on their head, like in a marvel comicbook. And you yourself are in the mood to flex your manhood and have em. This is fascist thinking, and is not the way I normally see things. It is bullshit and I was bullshitting to go even some little way along with it. 

That's all. 

[ update after conversation with others :

From pal 1 who was at gig. Good news is the bloke WAS being a tosser and pushing people around drunk, alarming news is apparently I took him by the shoulders and steered him out, as opposed to memory of backing him out. But in general, this pal confirmed it was all okay, not so much to worry about.

From pal 2, who I didn't even see in the gig. Also alarming news, that the said bloke later appeared outside/returning to gig with his face all bloodied, so he'd either been punched or walked into the floor. It wasn't me anyway.]