Monday, May 16, 2011

Danger Days: The True Life of an Atlanta Killjoy

I'd like to take this time now and admit something I'm not usually too open to admit to: I am a My Chemical Romance fan. Like, not just any fan - I'm a huge fan of the band and I have been for quite some time now. The reason I don't readily admit to it is because of the fans. That's right - the fans. Why? The same reason people won't admit they like Justin Beiber - his fans are crazy too. MCR fans are a special kind of crazy, though. We're loving and kind. We're thoughtful and we genuinely care about the music. And for most of us (including me), the band has saved our lives and for that, we are grateful for them. But, on Wednesday night at the MCR show at the Tabernacle, I saw the darker (and more immature) side of the fans.
Let me start by taking this all the way back to my first time seeing MCR. It was on their Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge tour. The show was happening at the Gwinnett Arena a few days after my birthday and I was stoked! I had found out about it last minute and I was still able to acquire 4 tickets to the show. My sister, brother and brother's then girlfriend joined me for my impromptu birthday celebration and we sang our hearts out at the very back of the arena. We took turns waving the shirt I had bought around our heads as we flailed, jumped, screamed and laughed throughout the entire show. I didn't think it would get any better! It was exhilarating. And even though I had only known the band for barely a year at that point, I knew they were amazing to behold.
Then The Black Parade came out. A theatrical and angsty record with a very beautiful message to everyone. This record really spoke to me. And one day a few years ago, it spoke to me louder than anyone or anything had ever done. I was conflicted with my job and the path my life was taking. It was becoming too much to bear. I won't go into too much detail but my iPod shuffled right on over to the opening track of The Black Parade: The End. Towards the end of the song, there's a sort of chant of "Save me". I came to and it was all clear. There was no need to take it all away. Then "Famous Last Words" shuffled on through and after that, "Welcome to the Black Parade" thundered in my car. I was a sobbing mess. What did this mean? Was I getting a new outlook on life? Yes, yes I was. I felt like my whole world was made right again and I was on the fast track to recovery. No more CoDA meetings, no more self-harm, no more bullshit - just life. It was a whole new world. And in that new world, came my new appreciation for MCR - the band who unknowingly had saved my life. Up until that moment, I had heard various fans say that MCR had saved their lives and it all sounded so silly to me. Almost comical. Until it happened to me. I know this sounds terribly cliche but it's true - My Chemical Romance had truly saved my life.
I went to see them on their Black Parade tour with this newfound clarity and the show was like a religious experience. They had graced the Gwinnett Arena with their presence once again and instead of being in the back, I was front row, on the barricade with bruised ribs and on the verge of fainting from the heat from the flames shooting out of their flame throwers combined with the body heat of thousands of fans all around me. I was almost close enough to touch the band. It was a spiritual high. And I wanted it again. Little did I know, MCR wouldn't come back to Atlanta for another few years. And when the World Contamination Tour tickets were announced, I was logged in and ordering the minute they went on sale. I wanted the high again. I wanted to be in the positive energy I had felt years before...
The night finally came. I was decked out in my Killjoy gear (as seen on my not-so-secret-anymore Killjoy tumblr), waiting in line. I should've known then that it was going to be a strange show. I was surrounded by kids and their parents. Not a big deal. But it became a very big deal once we got inside.
I ran up to the front of the stage as close as I could get - hoping for a taste of the high I had felt before but instead, I was surrounded by kids and their parents. There were two girls behind me screaming for no reason and they made fun of me for putting my ear plugs in. I let that go. There was a mother next to me who had come with her sons (I'm guessing). One of her sons was a few people in front of us, the other was getting groped by his girlfriend directly in front of us (um...whatever happened to respect???) and the other was awkwardly talking to the screaming girls behind me. Things started to get really weird when these 3 taller guys happened to squeeze their way slightly in front of us. I didn't really care but the girls behind me and the awkward kid next to me were really pissed off. And so was everyone behind us, apparently. But I tried to ignore it and enjoy myself.
The Architects played a wonderful set and I was really blown away at their performance. Not many people were, though, which is unfortunate. I understand that a majority of the people there that night were there for MCR and MCR only but I didn't get how the people behind me were totally trashing The Architects and even Thursday - who I will say was pretty good since the last time I saw them a million years ago. But I couldn't really enjoy Thursday like I wanted to because I was too preoccupied with the thought of staying on the floor and getting totally crushed by an enraged crowd or moving to the back to actually enjoy myself.
I debated it for the whole of Thursday's set. I had made it that far, could I possibly make my way to the front without incident? No way. The girls behind me and the awkward kid were unbearable at this point. The poor girl I kept getting pushed into was getting mad at me for pushing her when it was totally out of my control. I couldn't take it. I made the split decision to leave. It wasn't worth the pushing and shoving. Mind you, I am very aware of the rules of a show and I understand the whole general admission thing - trust me, I do - but this was embarrassing. I pushed and shoved my way out and with every person I cleared, a wave of people rushed to get my spot. It was a wreck. A total and complete wreck. People were purposefully stepping on my feet and using me to push others out of the way. I have NEVER EVER felt that kind of aggression before and ANY show - and I've been to quite a few crazy shows in my day - but I will say that this crowd was fucking insane. Not only did the crowd not have any kind of respect for The Architects or Thursday, but they didn't have any respect for each other which is one thing Gerard makes a point to mention at every show I've seen MCR play. He always says, "No matter what's going on, you stop and help your fellow fans (in this case, Killjoys")". I made it up to the third balcony of the Tabernacle and I didn't really see what was going on but I heard that people were being trampled and pulled out left and right non-stop. Craziness.
From my vantage point, I felt alive. Although I wasn't front and center like I had been earlier in the night, I was free. Free to sing my heart out, free to flail and dance about without the fear of hurting someone, free to fucking enjoy myself. Not to mention free to take videos for my brother who couldn't join me that night.

Apparently, I wasn't the only one with a problem that night and I feel very comforted knowing that.
Hopefully MCR will return to Atlanta soon (like they did after the Black Parade tour with something like Project Revolution) and maybe this time, the fans will be more grateful. I hate to sound like a crotchety old person but really, MCR fans, some of you just don't get it.
Until next time...
Killjoys make some noise