By Matthew Zitsos, Contributor
I have a foolproof strategy when it comes to getting myself and whomever I am with to the front of a music venue: push and everyone just kind of lets me through. I usually take a few elbows to the face, but it’s well worth it to have a good view. My 6’2” friends follow closely behind me trying to secure a spot in the crowd that has gathered at the Waka Flaka Flame Concert in Furman’s Amphitheater on September 29, 2015. Yes, all of my friends are 6’2”, no exceptions.
Upon arrival I go about my strategy as if it were any other concert. Everything is going as expected until we get to about a quarter of the way to the front, which I am still not able to see. Lets do a quick visualization exercise. Take a toilet paper roll; imagine that you are a little over half as tall as the roll. Now place yourself inside of the roll. You can now see the rest of the story from my perspective.
So we get to about a quarter of the way to the front. It’s beginning to get a cramped and the reactions to my 6’2” entourage are now turning aggressive. So we take a break from making our way through the crowds while we let tensions settle with our neighbors. Like a nomadic tribe of gypsies we wait until the people around us become comfortable with our presence and then we are back on the move.
We finally make it to the front where I am introduced to my first real complication; a 4-foot wall in between me and the stage. I look around for something to stand on. Nothing. At this point the crowds are becoming more aggravated and it seems the crew that I have been moving through the crowds with has grown substantially to include what might as well be complete strangers. A good strategy on their part but a strategy that makes me looks bad.
Why was I at this concert? As I face the obstructing wall, waiting for Waka Flaka Flame to grace us with his presence, all I can think of is that ESPN 30 for 30 about the soccer stadium in England that was filled beyond capacity and a solid 30% of the stadium was trampled. I couldn’t help but think that my position was not favorable for escaping, what seemed to be, an inevitable trampling. I typically try to uphold my dignity by avoiding the invitation of “Do you want to get on my shoulders?” from a complete stranger. But for whatever reason, maybe the miserable environment I was in or the nice young lady next to me screaming, “just get on his fucking shoulders”, I accepted the invitation from someone standing nearby. The instant that I was raised above the sea of people, I felt like a fish whose only desire was to go above the surface but when he emerged he forgets he can’t breathe. I jumped off of the shoulders of my carrier just as the seas began to calm and tried to act like it wasn’t a completely terrifying experience. I started up a conversation with the girl next to me who seemed pretty normal. And then it happened; Mr. Flame presented himself to us. I was alerted of his presence by the “pretty normal” girl next to me turning into a complete Neanderthal letting out the most primal screech one has ever heard. So distinct that as I was going through snap chats the morning after I heard this screech and immediately knew where the person was in the audience. Apparently, she was right next to me.
From this point onward the night was a series of weird and uncomfortable events. At one point I thought I was making eye contact with old Waka when in reality he was probably just looking where I was standing and wondering why there were two small arms reaching out of the crowd with no body to place them with. Luckily Waka Flaka’s performance was short and any chance of an encore was voided by the security guys convincing argument of: “Look he is not coming back so will you please just leave.” Poor guy. So as I write this now I am asking myself the same question as before. Why did I go to that concert? I guess the only suitable answer is I go hard in the paint or at least, I try to.