KEEP ALL LIMBS INSIDE THE YELLOW LINE This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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People do a lot of things to hurt themselves. Oddly enough, people are often aware that what they are doing hurts their bodies. Take anorexia/bulimia, Russian roulette or boxing, for example: each is harmful, if not fatal, yet the person is capable of stopping what he/she is doing and saving him or her self. Anorexics and bulimics can get help, those risking their lives in Russian roulette can put the gun down (or point it elsewhere) and boxers can just kick the other guy and walk away.
All that stuff is child’s play compared to the bravery, dedication and warped personality of concertgoers. I don’t mean those Hanson or Phish concerts where everyone is under twelve, high or both. I’m talking about the good ol’ metal concerts where, by the end of the night, you have to do a finger/toe count, you feel dizzy for a variety of reasons and, for the next week, your ears ring non-stop as if an uppity alarm clock were embedded inside your head. Yes, these can be fatal to the virgin concertgoer, but you learn some tricks over time, including distinguishing the different odors in the air.
I almost died twice at my first concert, but most people don’t have my luck. Most people get hurt at concerts because they want to. Unfortunately, doing nothing can also be hazardous to your health. If the idiots want to mosh and beat each other up, they can do so. But if three big, rowdy guys want to beat the tar out of each other and involve me, that is hazardous to my well-being. When such an event happens (and it does), people who choose to save themselves from a beating move away from the fight. Another option is to shove others into the brawl. Concerned for their own well-being, such acts of self-defense are deemed reasonable behavior at a concert. At my first concert, I was shoved into the brawling trio by a frightened couple who clearly did not want to get hurt. As soon as the brawl rumbled toward me, it broke up. It was like football, really, and at that moment I was holding the football of certain death. Normally, most people wouldn’t get into a fight over something small and insignificant but, then again, the people at concerts aren’t normal.
Neurosis is the worst band I have ever heard in my life. Their music made me feel as it a nest of spiders were inside my skull, pinching my brain. The visuals they used were even worse. The constant flash of a picture of Jesus crucified was as annoying as a five-year-old on crack doing an impression of Jerry Lewis. The worst part about this concert was how close together everyone was. After Neurosis, there was a short intermission (a moment of relief for my ears). After this, Clutch came on stage to do their act. At this time, I wasn’t into Clutch. Now I regret I wasn’t listening, and therefore didn’t enjoy them to the full potential. What I do remember about Clutch was the lead singer. He wasn’t on stage. That could be the reason why they were so bad.
After the squawking was over, the crowd waited and waited and waited some more, and finally, we waited some more. Sure, this may seem like a huge exaggeration, but it is the truth. After all the waiting, chanting, toes-getting-stepped-on and swearing, Pantera came on stage. The crowd knew to start moshing even before the band struck a chord. I wasn’t ready for what was to come. If you have ever seen TV coverage of riots during the Democratic Convention in Chicago in 1968, you might have a faint idea of what the concert was like. Just scratch the cops with tear gas and riot gear beating down hippies (not that beating down hippies is a bad thing, in my opinion). The moshing crowd had their teeth bared, their eyes full of intent to kill, maim and derange the closest human being to them. All the while, I was standing at the very fringes of the pit. Luckily, I wasn’t severely injured, but people were flying into me like tidal waves. This went on for the remainder of the concert.
The end of the concert is the worst part, because you never really know when it’s going to end. The final band promises the next song will be their last, but then they all figure, “One more song," and so forth. So, 15 minutes after false promises to stop, they thank the town they’re in, tell everyone to have a good night and get off stage. Now everyone rushes to the exit as if a bomb threat had been called in. But the only way to exit the Aragon Ballroom from the second level is the stairwell. Five thousand people had to pack through two stairwells, each ten feet wide. From the top to the bottom was an eight-minute wait. Then, everyone in our party had to find each other, and it was off to the car to go home. The ride home wasn’t as much fun as the ride there. The radio stations played lousy music (which ruined the mood everyone was in) and the ringing in my ears was at its worst. But my first concert was memorable, if nearly fatal. I recommend that everyone should go to one, just for the cultural effect, free survival lessons and a morbidly wholesome experience you will remember for a lifetime.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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