When Good Gigs Go Bad

Dear Audy,

Not all crippled adventures are inspiring, in fact, they can be rather disheartening when they go badly. I don’t like to dwell on the darker parts of life, however the aim of my blog is to share my experience of life with chronic pain realistically and that includes the adventures that don’t quite work out. In truth, those are probably the ones that I learn the most from.

On Friday, a good friend asked if I would like to go with her to see Gypsy And The Cat perform that night at The Palace in Melbourne, which used to be that hideous Metro nightclub. I was feeling amazing from having kept to my routine all week, I was also rapt at the thought of going out to see a band and (most of all) so excited that I was getting back to being capable of going out for the purpose of fun rather than a medical appointment.

This isn’t a review of the performance, all I will say is that they are a pretty rocking two thousand and teens version of a nineteen eighties sound. Had I been well, I am sure that I would have enjoyed dancing and bopping along with them.

I (carelessly) didn’t put a lot of thought into how I would cope at the venue. I had been to The Metro many, many moons ago and I knew there was seating in the upper tiers. I figured that we would be able to sit there and watch the show, no worries.

This pic shows the levels of seating, I was sitting in the front row of the upper level.


We were enjoying the support act when it happened. All of a sudden there was a bunch of people standing in the small space between our seats and the balcony rail in front of us. Unlike most theatre balconies, this rail is chest height and the venue clearly had no problem with people cramming up against it.

Resistance was futile. Yelling at the people who stood there worked for a while and mocking their stupid outfits helped ease the annoyance a little, but it quickly became clear that people were going to block our view no matter what.

The audience was mostly young and let’s face it, young adults en masse are overpoweringly obnoxious (I was). One girl literally climbed over me to stand on the seat next to me and speak to people on the level above us. She was wavering around above me while I squirmed, trying not to get stepped on and hoping that she didn’t spill her beer on my head and force me to throw her scrawny ass over that extra high balcony railing.

Thankfully, my friend was able to grab the rail space just in front of us and played “sorry this space is taken” until Gypsy And The Cat came on. Unfortunately, by that time I was unable to even contemplate standing to see the show.

Pain was skyrocketing. It was hard to tell if this was simply from being out, the driving, the hard seating, the loud music, the frustration or simply the energy generated by so many excited people being crammed into one space.

I tried to enjoy the music. I tried so hard not to be annoyed, to let the excess energy flow out of me, to not feel suffocated by the stifling atmosphere, to not feel personally offended by people who are simply ignorant of the fact that I’m in a lot of physical pain even though I look normal.

I tried not to be angry at the entire audience for allowing a guy on crutches to traipse all over the upper level of booth seating with no one having the decency to give him a seat. I don’t know if he was disabled or injured, however I was uselessly outraged on his behalf. I was even annoyed that I couldn’t just give him my seat.

I tried to accept the situation as it was and still enjoy myself. I tried to concentrate on listening and seeing what I could of the show between the butts of the people in front of me. Sometimes I could see the lead singer, sometimes the keyboardist…but always butts. I feel like I never want to see the rear end of a human being again.

The thing that was most annoying? Being annoyed. I have been practising meditation for some time now and done a lot of reading about Buddhist theology, which I have found really enlightening. I can understand that no matter what happens, it is possible to remain calm and control my reactions. An emotion is just a reaction to thoughts, after all. Frustration is just an emotion.

Just an emotion.

No matter how irritating I found the situation and the people, I am the person responsible for my own reactions and emotions. Just me. The good thing about being responsible is that I can improve it. This particular gig on this particular day was too overwhelming, however that doesn’t mean I should stop trying to go out or that I should expect to never be able to enjoy a crowded gig again. All it means is that I had an irritated evening and that I have a long way to go before I am any sort of zen master.

Like most unpleasant experiences, this one came with lessons:

1) The Palace is not a chronic pain sufferer friendly venue. I thought I would be able to walk in and sit down – not the case. Were I to get over my disgust at the place enough to want to return for another gig, I would need to go in my wheelchair.

2) It’s easy to lose my ability to accept and control my emotions when in a crowd.

3) I need to contact any venue that I am planning on attending for the first time and ensure that my needs (to sit and not be stepped on whilst being able to see the show) can be catered for.

4) I can recognise where my own coping skills failed me and allowed me to move from annoyed into upset. Awareness of this will help me to cope more effectively the next time I am in an uncomfortable situation.

So, it wasn’t a total loss.

Plus, my friend had a really good time and as it was her love of the band that had us there in the first place, so that was great to see! I can’t stand the idea of my difficulty controlling my emotions about my disability ruining someone else’s good time.

I have tickets to see Lissie this coming Thursday. Northcote Social Club is usually pretty nice about giving me a chair to sit on, so hopefully I will get to see the show without trying to peer through people’s legs. I have been listening to and loving her album since I read Carly’s review of her performance as the support act for Megan Washington. I would describe her sound as a kind of Sia/KT Tunstall blend with a little spice of Liz Phair. I am sure the show will be a ripper!

Love & Learning The Hard Way,

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  • 5 thoughts on “When Good Gigs Go Bad

    1. Michelle

      I sorry you had a bad time, but I can tell you that the Palace is awful no matter how physical capable you are. I hate that venue so much I WILL NOT ever go back there again. I have seen 3 gigs there in the last 2 years and the last one was such a hideous experience it pushed me to breaking point. I have tried all standing/seating areas and they all pretty much suck but the “best of a bad bunch” place to sit is on the very top tier in the very back row in the 2 side corners there are little booths slightly higher up than the general back row. These booths don’t have as much space between the seats and the rails so people can’t stand infront of you. Mind you from this position the people on the stage are barely visible anyway. Gahh – the Palace is such a craphole it makes me angry that so many bands are playing there these days. I hope your Northcote concert is a much nicer experience.

      1. Hayley Cafarella Post author

        Just walking in there made me feel kind of gross! I don’t think that I’ll be returning. It’s funny that you mentioned those back booths, as we were walking out we were all pointy with the “that’s where we needed to sit!”. Even in a wheelie, there would be nowhere good to park it…stupid MetroPalace. On the upside, nobody flashed me this time… If every musician that I want to see would just play at The Palais, that would be wonderful. But I am excited about Thursday!

    2. Della

      Sounds like a nightmare! Glad you could put it all into a bit of perspective, and I hope you don’t have any lasting affects from it.

      1. Hayley Cafarella Post author

        Thank you :) I managed to hurt myself with the door incident soon after, so even if I am sore from the night out, I can’t distinguish it from the door crashing sore so I feel like I’ve gotten away with it ;P xx

    3. franci

      I just love reading your posts. They are so colorful and real. Hang in there, sweetie-pie!

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