Check the pockets for the tickets,
Reds, Lighter, Travelcard,
tied shoes, keys and cash. No rush, no hurry –
No matter how late you try to turn up
there’s always a support band to sit through,
a guy with a beard, a banjo and a bad hairdo.
And after an hour of standing still, pressed into the perfect space,
your legs have gone numb, your pockets are pinned,
you check the people next door,
not spinning about giddily, wearing an anorak,
trying to enfold you in Jesus’ love,
likely to vomit all over your shoes, or try anything funny.
Once reassured, and the lights go out,
there’s a stampede of huge, drunken elephant-men,
wearing oversized England shirts over thick necks
or the tallest chick ever – wielding an afro
who decides to push right in front of you.
So after an hour of keeping your place, bang goes the view.
During the slow songs, the elephant men
form an ‘ironic’ circle pit,
and you’re forced to elbow one in the face
when they come careering off the merry-go-round
and grope you, though the fifty year old
trying out some solo dance routine doesn’t deserve much less.
And the bad moshers, who can’t pogo-stick
up and down to the simplest bass,
must be a part of some huge conspiracy
to force you to catch snatches of the band through one squinted eye.
So you tuck in your elbows and bounce through
the people-thicket to the even thicker pit, now seething
and frothing – where you don’t even have to move your legs,
the surge will bring you to the top for air,
like a shoal of fish, craning for the sunlight.
On the down, it’s hot and damp,
Without DMs your feet get trampled
on and with one sway, or mis-stepped
step, you’re on the floor, butts embedded in your skin,
and a sandwich pile-up of bodies will crush your bones for bread.
So, you must stay alert to each seismic shift
fracturing your shins to and fro like a packed ship
in a heavy sweat-spray storm.
At least everyone’s way too busy
staying alive to sing along with Strongbow-soaked
vocal cords and drown out the sweetest song
With their blend of lager sponging discord.
The hot bodies bruise you, spill beer down your top,
Flail about with their Camel Lights and stab you,
Ram you with their mohicans and jab you,
Pepper spray and rob you,
rub you, and dive on top of your head.
But, just maybe tonight, give you a wicked gig –
as the music drills through all the bones
in your jaw through to your heart,
the floor would tremble if your feet could touch it.
And once the band make their encore exit,
the light comes on, and people blankly
stare at their sweat-stuck companions
peel their hair from their foreheads and
fumble for the cloakroom ticket.
And we begin to follow the lines out, like cattle
into the night; thankfully, cold and dark.
A culture of men with limp fags drooping
out of their mouths harass you
with poorly sewn rip-off t-shirts
and petitions for similarly shoddy looking
‘minicabs?’ – no thank you.
Worn and aching, mashed and bruised
from godknows what, the tubes
pump full of people analysing the playlist
or merely dazed from drugs or a good time
staring straight ahead,
smiles stuck skin-tight across their pasty faces.