Wednesday, 23 February 2011

You may recognize yourself, or someone you know, in this this infrequent field resource and spotting guide on concert sociology – the Taxonomy of Rock.

Medicinae Saltator — Dance of Drugs (Acid Dancer)

Medicinae Saltator, or acid dancer, is that guy — and 99% of the time it is a guy — whose dancing, while without hint of self-consciousness (and I do have to give him credit for that part) is a mix between drunken stumbling and the flailing of a person drowning. Even with careful observation it is difficult to discern the rhythm, or even the song, to which he is grooving.

It should be noted that, despite the pharmaceutical base to the genus name, not all acid dancers are drug users. Encountered in the wild, most are harmless, even those under the influence of chemical enhancements. However, close proximity to the medicinae saltator is difficult as most exude a pungent oder, commonly a mix of patchouli, body oder, and clove cigarettes or marijuana.

Given the medicinae saltator’s extemporaneous and unpredictable movements, their lack of awareness for their own surroundings, and limited personal space found in a typical concert environment, the greatest danger in MS encounters comes from the occasional trodden foot or other minor jostling. Examples of normal MS habits can be found in film/video footage from The Woodstock Encounter of 1969 or Grateful Dead shows from 1966-present.

The greatest risk from the medicinae saltator does not stem from a normal concert environment, but rather uncontrolled social gatherings that can quickly degenerate into a tympana circulo, or a hippie drum circle.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

A new installment of my infrequent series on concert sociology — a spotting guide for the concert-going public. It’s possible you will recognize someone you know, or perhaps yourself, in this field resource.

Altus Quinque – High-Five Guy

When a performer so much as approaches the edge of the stage, Altus Quinque — high-five guy — is right there, arm aloft, hoping for a handshake, fist-bump, or other minor acknowledgement from the band.

Altus Quinque shows little concern for the personal space or discomfort of other concert-goers and will reach through any available gap to attain his goal. Fledgeling AQs may exhibit more reserved tendencies, but they are quickly outgrown and easily overcome through regular use of intoxicants or other mood-altering substances.

While stage proximity is important for proper completion of a high-five, the AQ’s sense of distance grows less accurate over time. Field research shows that Altus Quinque will extend their fore-limbs from lengths in excess of 50 feet in a quest for even the slightest contact with someone in the band.

There is a particular sub-species that is driven to reach out during the performance, usually between songs, but occasionally during them. Gentle admonitions may prevent them from becoming an annoyance, however their short-term memory is lacking and they will quickly resume their gadfly-like behavior.

AQs are presumed to be asexual as there is no known female of the species, although actual reproductive habits are unknown. In its natural concert habitat, high-five multiplies spontaneously, much like wire coat-hangers on a closet floor.

Not known to be immediately dangerous, small injuries may result from repeated contact with Altus Quinque. The back of the skull, upper shoulders, and head coverings are most at-risk as the AQ’s sense of space and situational awareness are not typically attuned to their surroundings.

Spotting Altus Quinque in the wild is more difficult at sit-down concerts; club shows offering easier stage-front access than more more formal venues, however you will find high-five guy any time there is live music.

Saturday, 05 April 2008

This is the first installment in an infrequent series on concert sociology that will depict a particular segment – genus, if you will – of the concert-going public. Kind of a taxonomy or spotting guide for concert patrons. Don’t be surprised if you spot someone you know, or even spot yourself somewhere in here.

Aves Liberticus – Freebird

First up is the Aves Liberticus, or Free Bird. Abundant in their natural habitat of Southern-Rock concerts, they are plentiful at nearly any public music performance.

For the unfamiliar, “Free Bird” was a song released by Lynyrd Skynyrd in November 1974. It begins as a slow power-ballad, but clocks in at over 9 minutes (album version; longer in concert) and features gospel-flavored organ, slide guitar, and a 4+ minute guitar duel. At one concert, Steve Wilson (the band’s guitar player), says that they will play one more song. Someone in the audience yells back “Free Bird!” likely due to the song’s length and a desire for the band to play as long as possible. In the 1980’s a radio DJ urged listeners to yell “Free Bird!” at a Florence Henderson concert as a joke.

Whether it’s an opportunity to make a request, or done as a gag, every band seems to have it’s “Free Bird.”

I was at a CD release show for Nickel Creek’s Why Should the Fire Die? The band played each song from the album, in order (a neat concept for a release party), then took requests. A couple requests in there was one of those uncomfortable pauses and someone in the band said “It doesn’t even have to be one of our songs!” Everybody got a laugh out of it, then Chris Thile added “I know there’s one guy out there dying to yell ‘Free Bird’ right now. Don’t. That stuff isn’t funny.” There was a brief chuckle, then someone asked for “American Pie” or something else completely ridiculous and the band nearly choked from laughter.

At the Mike Doughty show the other night, and pretty much every one of his shows, there’s someone that yells “Firetruck!” between every song until it gets played. This time around Doughty said “Dude, if I promise to play ‘Firetruck!’ will you stop screaming for it?” Then a long pause and “In fact, if anyone shouts ‘Firetruck’ for the rest of the show, I promise never to play it at any show ever again. You’ll ruin it for everybody.” He said it with a huge smile on his face, but I wonder if there wasn’t just the tiniest bit of truth to it.

Even my favorite band, Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers has a “Free Bird” in the form of “Mekong.” It’s a song from Rogers days heading The Refreshments. At every show there’s a guy hollering for “Mekong” practically every song. Finally at one show Roger laughed and asked “Have you ever been to one of my shows where we haven’t played Mekong? It’s coming later.” For Roger to skip “Mekong” at a show would be like the Rolling Stones not bothering to play “Satisfaction” – it would quite possibly start a riot.

There you have it, the next time you’re at a concert, you’ll be ready to spot the Aves Liberticus and see for yourself.