The girl stands behind me, singing the words loudly, on key, but with an emotional tremor in her voice. She probably doesn’t realize she is surrounded by people. She has no clue that she’s singing right into my ear. She has no idea that I want to ram my elbow into her throat just so she’ll stop shattering my eardrum with every high note she reaches. She only sees the star on the stage.
The guy stands in front of me, to the left, directly in my line of sight. He’s easily 6ft4 with footballer shoulders and I can see absolutely nothing around his massive blond head.
An overly amorous short guy stands to my left. He can’t keep his hands to himself, covering his girlfriend? his wife? in endless caresses that would make even a golden retriever overwhelmed with all the love. The girl however doesn’t push him away, doesn’t block his roaming hands. I really want to do it for her.
Two young guys lean up against the stage. Their canes line the edge, easily reachable should one of them decide to go get a beer. The crowd is instantly solicitous of these two boys, helping them reach the edge of the crowd so that they don’t have to make a big show of needing to feel their way there. Out of the corner of my eye I’m watching the number of beers that get brought back to this stage, keeping an eye on how much the canes flail as they come flying up to rest on the stage.
The music is awesome. The artist is on fire, interacting with the crowd like we’re feeding his soul. The more we sing and echo him the more he lights up. I’m tired, it’s been a very long day, but I’m really into it, even forgetting how much my feet hurt when I catch the opening bars to a song I love.
But I hear nothing more than the first few bars, the high pitched voice of a girl who has just pushed her way to the front drowns out the sound of the band. She’s not even talking about the music or the artists. She’s telling her friend about some guy she chatted up.
Maybe it’s my feet, maybe it’s all the passionate fans surrounding me, maybe it’s just that I’m blown away by her incredible obliviousness to the people around her, but I step out of character and turn to her to ask her to stop talking. And when she snaps back that no, no she won’t stop, I don’t back down, at least not at first. When it becomes obvious that she’s just out to pick a fight, I turn away and ignore her. But when a guy standing behind her takes up my cause, and then an older lady standing next to her echoes him, I can’t help but smile. And when she finally leaves in a huff the three of us share some gleeful, quiet, verbal high-fives before turning our attention back to the show.
Two or three songs later my attention is torn away from the stage again, this time by a loud exclamation from the more drunk of the two blind boys. His slurred “I’m going to fall!” sends ice through my veins. He probably weighs close to 300lbs. 300lbs of dense, drunk, man, standing right in front of me. And even as he says that he’s starting to fall. If this were a trust exercise I would fail miserably, because as much as I try to catch him, I have no hope of ever doing so. I could catch a falling tree with more ease.
We all jump aside and look around helplessly. The short amorous man shrugs and turns back to caressing his girl. Luckily the 6ft4 man redeems himself by carrying off the very drunk guy, and we can all go back to the concert. The annoying girl leans forward to make sure M and I are fine, in one sentence going from the girl I would have complained about all the way home to the girl we chat with at the end of the show. She’s not the only one we gush to before leaving the venue.
Martin Sexton is known for music that brings people together. People of all ages from all walks of life. I arrived in San Francisco tired and stressed. My mind wasn’t on the music. When the concert started I was ready to be annoyed by all the people around me, but by the end I felt connected to the people around me, carried by their love of this music, their passion for this performer. I never expected to find those connections at a concert venue. I’m glad I did.