The first concert I ever paid my own money to attend was Bell Biv DeVoe (now ya know) at the Met Center in (I think) the spring/summer of 1991.
A longtime New Edition fan, I was giddy with excitement to attend this concert with my high school BFF Nikki. I drove two hours from Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin where I lived at the time just to see BBD and Keith Sweat and Johnny Gill. I wore my flyest, brightest tie-dyed shorts.
Since I was a poor kid I didn’t get a lot of opportunities to see live music even though I loved the hell out of it. I spent any dollars I had on music I could keep, and in 1991 that didn’t happen very often. In fact, I stole most of my music from the Chippewa Falls library, making endless mix tapes from the records I’d check out.
Before Bell Biv DeVoe the only other concert I had seen was The Jets & Limited Warranty. So of course I was giddy as fuck. Nikki, my petite, blonde, cheerleader BFF, and I were amped up and chatty as hell as we navigated our way to our seats. And that was probably the last happy moment of the concert for me. Well maybe not when Johnny Gill sang Rub You the Right Way, but still . . .
I had the great misfortune to be seated at that concert in front of and behind total assholes. Every time I stood up the people behind me would tap me on the shoulder and ask me to sit down because they couldn’t see. Because I am a nice, Minnesota girl, I did. Of course. But because I am a freakishly tall Minnesota girl, whenever I sat down my knees were wedged into the seat in front of me, which totally pissed off the woman in front of me who turn around and ask if I could move my knees. It was awful, because I literally had no where to move them. At all.
There is something about being freakishly tall that really brings out the total asshole in people, even Minnesota Nice people, at paid events like concerts or movies. Take for instance this total bullshit about tall people being jerks puked up on City Pages today.
Of course when you’re 5’1″ as the author of that piece is, isn’t just about the entire fucking planet taller than you? And also, why do people taller than you owe you anything? We have just as much right to exist as anyone else. Plus, as my 6’9″ BFF Wolfdogg pointed out, actual tall people, the freakishly tall like me and him, are ridiculously aware of how much space we’re taking up at all times.
It reminded me of this wonderful description Kim Gordon had about her ex-husband Thurston Moore in her book Girl in a Band:
. . . and the wariness you see in tall men who don’t want to overpower other people with their height.”
That wariness goes about quadruple for tall women.
I’ve been a concert-going music fan for more than twenty years now and I have never, ever been front row center at any concert I’ve attended. I got pretty close when I saw Mike Doughty at Hippiefest a hundred years ago, but that was a strange combination of drunken bravado and hippies that had never before or since been duplicated in my entire life.
Being a freakishly tall female concert goer adds an extra level of peril to the whole experience, because then you get the sexism on top of the usual belligerence of shorter-than-you men. I remember a particular Ryan Adams concert at First Ave where a drunk guy was mad at me for being in front of him at the back of the room and at the same time told me how he’d forgive me in bed because “we’re all the same height laying down.” (Barf)
As you can see that article totally pissed me off. I see this lament about tall people at concerts all the time and it drives me bonkers. Because really? What are we supposed to do? It’s not like we can fucking help our height. So if you’re short, why don’t you stop being an entitled asshole and move. Fuck.