Last weekend, my brother-in-law, his wife, Em, and I went to a chili cookoff concert at RFK. I’d been to exactly one show in my life, a Purple Door Christian concert in Pennsylvania. POD was just breaking out at the time, so as most testosterone-driven youth, I was more than happy to experience some Christian fellowship in the form of excessively violent mosh pits. It was fun.
I didn’t really know what to expect at the cookoff. Bands included Niki Barr Band, Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Puddle of Mudd, Papa Roach, Shinedown, Third Eye Blind, and The Offspring. I’d heard of the last five, heard songs of the last four, and enjoyed the last two. I didn’t know how well Third Eye Blind would resonate as a live, outdoor show, but I knew The Offspring would be amazing.
We got there in time to watch Papa Roach. Ugh. The songs were great, the show was awful. The lead singer, who I assume is Papa, has zero stage presence. Unless you count his innate ability to fit some tense of the f bomb into every sentence at least once. Look, I understand that some bands find the f bomb inspiring. If that words for you, hey, to each his or her own. But the Offspring’s lead vocal, Dexter Holland (according to Wikipedia – look, sorry I have no memory for names, so I appreciate good music not good musicians) somehow had amazing stage presence and I can’t remember him dropping the bomb the entire time. Of course, my bell was wrung at that time, so maybe I missed it.
I was stuck in lines during the Shinedown show, but they seemed okay. My bro-in-law and I resolved to approach the stage during the Third Eye Blind Show. In the midst of the crowd, we saw everything from shoes, hats, beach balls, and glasses thrown in the air. Call me naïve, but I wasn’t expecting the frontal nudity. Suffice it to say that there wasn’t any “Take It Off” chants at Purple Door. I just kept my eyes on the stage, I swear.
Third Eye Blind ended up being amazing, at least what I saw of it. Shortly into the set, Ben and I realized that we had somehow found ourselves standing beside a group of sadists who took extreme pleasure at lifting unwilling or barely-willing suckers and sending them crowd-surfing to the stage. One of these guys mistook a statement I made to my brother-in-law and "asked" me if wanted to surf. Of course I couldn’t say no. I didn't have time to. Besides, I mean, I’m a guy. And our women with us – I couldn’t dishonor Emily by not surfing.
I almost made it to the front. See – in my one brief experience, I learned there is no art to sober crowd surfing. If you’re drunk, I imagine surfing is a chaotic jumble of memories where you spend the rest of the evening trying to find your friends so you can tell them how fun it was. If you’re sober, you’re just trying to survive. Keep in mind, you have no control when you’re crowd surfing. Why any woman would want to participate, I have no clue. Perhaps the same sadists that launched me launched all the women. The best you can hope for as a crowd surfer is pointing to where you want to go. If you see a mosh pit, point to the right or left as fast and intensely as you can. Pray nobody drops you like they did me.
I hit a pocket of really strong dudes, who launched me into the air into a pocket of incoherent women, who dropped me seven feet onto my back. I couldn’t get up right away. I couldn’t really get off the couch too well the next day.
I have many stories about the show, but as a summary, the show was a ton of fun, and I can’t wait to do it again. We barely avoided a cancellation due to lightening before and during both Third Eye Blind and Offspring. The rain just made everyone slippery, but we were all pretty slippery, anyway. Both these shows were awesome – a great mixture of old and new songs. More importantly, I gotta say that I was proud to be a member of that audience. Mosh pits were very fun, but as soon as ANYONE fell, everyone stopped and helped the person up. I personally saw no inappropriate behavior during the surfing. People were very mature. I can’t say the same about the Purple Door show, ironically a Christian show. People were trying to knock each other out. Not so here. People just wanted to have fun, and for the most part everyone was as considerate as I could have hoped for. Kudos D.C.
Some sidenotes: One look at the 20-person deep lines at the rows of porta-potties convinced me that chili-tasting wasn't the best idea. Also, while I lost my hat during the show, I gained a really awesome pair of sunglasses. People were throwing everything, and the longer the show, the stranger the items. At one point, I saw a wooden spoon go one way, and a full length dress go another. When a pair of sunglasses hit me in the head, I was like, sweet - free sunglasses. Later that night I figured out why I was getting a lot of weird looks from people after I put the glasses on. They had fake gemstones on the side. Why do chicks get all the best accessories?