Mapping the Crowd: That Chubby Guy Totally Just Farted

I originally planned to only review the Allen Stone concert I went to last night when I started this blog. But observations of the crowd dominated my brain as I began typing. Therefore, it will be part review, part exposé on a groovin’, soulful, stinky, drunken crowd.

Let’s start with some good news! Mr. Stone was leaps and bounds better than advertised – from the music, to his insanely talented band, his showmanship, and of course that VOICE, it was one of the greatest shows I’ve ever had the pleasure of attending.

The show was at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco. Fantastic little place, plenty of room to move around but still a sold-out crowd, and two different bars with reasonably-priced beers. The only complaint is that it’s on O’Farrell St., close to Hyde, which as the hip kids say (okay, I’m the only one who says this, but still…), is “ticklin’ the Tendy.”

That’s the Tenderloin District for you non-natives. As if you needed to look any farther than the District’s name itself, it’s not a fun place to walk around.

You’d never know it by the crowd inside the Great American Music Hall though. Mixed in among the usual suspects (we’ll get to that here soon), were 50-somethings in sparkly shirts dancing on the balconies. There were 10-year-olds sitting with their parents on the sides bobbing their heads innocently. And even some young adults who looked like they wandered in by mistake and stumbled in on a pleasant surprise.

Then of course, you had the following:

1) The awkward, making-out-all-night couple in the middle of the floor. Nothing like a sweaty hippie jammin’ about his problems on stage to get those two turned on!

2) The awkward, trying-to-be-sneaky stoner who “hides” his joint behind his ear. Dude, you didn’t sneak that past security, they just didn’t care. They are actually laughing at you right now.

3) The awkward, middle-aged man dragged here by his wife, standing with arms crossed barely bobbing his head all night. He’s paying his dues. *Men everywhere nod in mutual understanding*

4) The awkward, WAY too drunk chick spilling beers before the opening act even finishes. Granted, she’s tiny and of a race that is normally bad at drinking excessive amounts of alochol-related beverages. But damn, really? The doors opened at 7. It’s now 7:32 and you can hardly keep your eyes open? 

5) The awkward, WAY too drunk guy trying to hook up with the WAY too drunk chick, eventually just stumbling to the bathroom with her so she doesn’t puke on anyone. You’d think the fact that WAY too drunk chick can hardly hold her head up would be a stop sign for WAY too drunk guy. He shall not be denied!

6) The awkward, screamy chick who only came to see the opener (not to knock on Yuna – she was incredible!). It’s always a little bit difficult to actually hear and enjoy the music when one crazed fan is hitting the high note with her shriek through the entirety of a four-minute song.

7) The awkward, can’t-shut-up-for-more-than-30-seconds girl in the back, who fights back when the performer is playing by talking loudly enough for everyone around to hear. It doesn’t help when the guy she’s with is going “Uh-huh. Yep. Ya. Totally.” while clearly trying to shut her up to listen to the damn show he paid for.

8) The awkwardly tall dude with the fedora, who insists on swaying right into your line of vision every half second. Like, you’re already at least nine feet tall, what’s with the big hat? And how did you manage to stay in front of me, even after I moved all the way to the other side? Shouldn’t venues have a tall-only section? You know…like, against the back wall?

9) The awkward, angry guys who almost get into three fights for getting bumped into. God forbid that would happen in a crowded public space…

10) The awkward boyfriend who is embarrassed to sing or dance with his girlfriend so just does a goofy, clearly-exaggerated dance and then nods at her and laughs like “Hahaha this is so much fun, see what I’m doing, I’m being funny!” to cover at his lack of skillz (contrary to popular belief, that guy was NOT me for once).

11) The awkward guy who does the lighter-holding sway to every song, regardless of the rhythm. This is the same doofus who would hold up lighters at a hip hop concert or to Call Me Maybe.

12) The awkward, ignorant one who failed to see the approximately 376 signs on the way in that said “NO CAMERAS, FLASHES, OR RECORDING DURING SHOWS” and insists on taking a picture with his phone, flash on, until Allen Stone is legally blind.

13) The worst. The absolute worst. The short, chubby guy who thinks the more people, the less his rank ass farts will be noticed. Note to short, chubby guy – don’t eat Moroccan food before the show, and don’t look behind you every time that gaseous state erupts in a fiery death for anyone within a half mile of you.

Basically, what I’m trying to say, is everyone at the concert aside from myself, my girlfriend and the actual performers on stage, SUCKED. Just kidding. But these are very common types I have observed at multiple concerts. Sometimes there are more, sometimes less, usually there’s at least one of each.

It’s something I find entertaining (except for the last one) for the most part. It makes the concert experience complete in my mind. Luckily, there didn’t have to be any extras with Allen Stone on stage. Right, back to your regularly scheduled review now…

…you have to respect the musicians in this show for a few reasons. Allen Stone and his band clearly are madly in love with music and the opportunity they have. They were extremely open about being grateful to the crowd for paying for their show.

And we were rewarded enough with the show of a lifetime, but keeping the crowd engaged for two solid hours was a bonus. Allen split the floor in half and made us have a dance-off. He made sure we sang the choruses of a couple of songs (impressive, people, impressive). He did a birthday toast and “Happy Birthday” sing-along to his trumpet player. He let his band mates have solo time (that drummer – WHOA), and genuinely had a great time on stage the entire time.

Don’t even get me started on the way the show was set up – the keyboard player coming out as an emcee and introducing himself as “the host of the show” while the band played some soul-style beat and got the crowd pumped up for Allen to come out. Or the pianist playing a chord with his foot, while standing on top of the piano on the last song. The unbelievable Bob Marley cover…the list goes on and on.

All around, just an amazing show by Allen Stone. I highly recommend seeing him live if you ever get the chance. And if not, at least go check out a video on YouTube. The man deserves every penny we paid to get into the concert.

Oh…and just in case you wanted a visual on the crazy crowd creatures I described above? Your wish is my command (numbered for your convenience – corresponding to the numbers listed above):

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