Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The Danger of Rock Concerts in1979 and Why It’s Billy Joel’s Fault

My first concert was in 1979 seeing Billy Joel play a sold out show at the local Civic Center. Granted now I’d rather hit Joel in the head with a brick than see one of his shows, but as it was my first concert and I was a fan, I sang along and used my little 110 Instamatic camera to take photos.

Throughout the show, fans would run to the front of the stage, scream, dance, or lose themselves in a Pianoman style frenzy. Every time this happened, security would make them return to their seats. I was in the second section back on the floor and wanted some closer photos. So late in the show I asked security if I could go down front to take a few pictures and the nice security man said “sure, go ahead.”

As I sauntered down the aisle secure in the knowledge that I wasn’t an idiot who was going to be asked to leave, I felt pity for the poor fools who didn’t know enough to talk to security before blindly running towards the stage. I was standing in front of the stage taking a photo when all of a sudden I was hit from behind with a force so hard that my flashcube was knocked off the top of my cameraAs it bounced across the stage under Joel’s running feet, I was in a panic. Not only did I need that big square flashcube, but I was afraid he’d twist an ankle if his foot hit it. More importantly, I was in complete fear over who or what had hit me, and if I about to be attacked again. Had security gone insane? Had someone who’d been told to sit down taken their revenge out on a happy little kid taking photos? Was this what happened at a concert?

As I looked around, I discovered that the aisles were now clogged with people pressing against the stage. My stroll up to the front and lack of reaction by security had let the entire venue know that it was now okay for everyone to run to the foot of the stage. A wall of people had descended toward Billy Joel at warp speed, and for whatever unknown reason, they felt compelled to plowed into me. I was completely shell shocked and after taking another photo or two, went back to my seat.
For a couple of months, whenever I heard the song “Bigshot” (which was the song being performed when I was pummeled by the crowd), I would break into a cold sweat, my heart would hammer to get outside my ribcage, and I’d have an anxiety attack. Thanks ever so much, Mr. Only the Good Die Young…thanks for trying to kill me and giving an innocent young teen a heaping helping of transitory emotional scarring.

Look at Mr. Smugpants sitting on top of his piano. You know he was scoffing at me!! Oh the pain! The pain!! Damn him in all his rock star glory as he tramples young girls dreams and flashcubes, while he lives out his soft souled shoe rock star fantasies in the mansion and crashed car of his choice. Damn him all to hell!!....also that's the worst James Cagney imitation I've ever seen.


Jimmy said...

Yeah, concerts were definitely a rowdier affair back then.
That's a good story, ha. Imagine Billy slipping on the flashcube and falling on his ass. He would've talked about that on his Behind the Music special. Your chance at greatness . . .

Riley said...

Thank goodness you had it together enough to bring a camera to a concert....I was lucky just to bum a ride to a concert and back.

Things were a bit more hazy for me in the 70's.

Monkey said...

This explains so much Chris. Thank you for sharing.

Chris Jart said...

If he had fallen on that flashcube, I would have been mortified!....and the crowd would have beaten the hell out of me for ruining the encore.

As for my camera, it was one of those little 110s that you could stick in your back pocket. The tough part was carrying all the flashcubes!

And yes Heather, it does explain a lot. Perhaps I should sue Billy for post traumatic stress brought on by his callousness....don't know what for, but why not?