Being a [relatively] old man at a G-Eazy Concert [April 27, 2016 @ Sloss Furnaces]

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Summary: Back in February, it was announced that G-Eazy [aka Young Gerald, aka Gerald Earl Gillum] would be coming to Sloss Furnaces in April. A couple of friends and I went to watch the show. God have mercy on my soul.

BLOT: (30 Apr 2016 - 10:16:19 AM)

Being a [relatively] old man at a G-Eazy Concert [April 27, 2016 @ Sloss Furnaces]

Tom, Doug, and Maryam surrounded by a packed crowd.

I get along alright with G-Eazy's music. A Bay-area rapper on the rise, I was introduced to him by my friend Maryam (she of the burning flowers photoshoot) who enjoys him somewhat: meaning her review him tends to be four-stars and two-stars combined but not averaged out. She's had a dream for a bit of getting to see him and meet him and such, and when I found out that he was coming to Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham just one week after her birthday, it made sense to get her tickets as a birthday gift. The initial plan was that we would go with Sarah and Tom [a friend of ours and G-Eazy detractor], though for reasons Sarah dropped out of the concert itself while going with us on the road trip.

Maryam standing by a G-Eazy cut out.

After grabbing some food at Eli's Jerusalem Grill [quick review: yes, go], we headed over to Sloss so that Sarah could drop us off and we could get in line about 6pm. Already, the line was a hundred or more people long. Over the next hour and a half, it grew ten times that size, stretching all the way back and around the parking lot. This section of the night was mostly dedicated to people watching, trying to figure out the weird unknown dramas unfolding around us: the menage a trois of youths in front of us, the couple walking back and forth like they had lost something but never asking anyone to help them look, the high-school looking girl with her bra hanging out complaining about all the high-schoolers in the crowd, etc. Finally, around 7:30pm, the gates were opened and we started marching forward. Oddly, there was a call for us to get into four separate lines [Maryam and I got into one and Tom got into the one next to us] and this become three lines, which then melted into two, and the one line, the leftmost one with Maryam and myself, went slower than the other three that blended together. Who knows.

At this point, a performance art piece began that you might refer to as "young people pack themselves into a small building at a density roughly equating a single loose solid". Cigarettes, e-cigs, and joints were widely smoked. One girl emptied a baggie of some sort of pill. Beer in cans and cups were drunk and empty containers were flung into the crowd [I was hit with an empty pack of cigarettes, one mostly empty beer cup, and some quantity of liquid I still do not the source of]. People started crawling up brick walls around the edges. Elbows were thrown. People smashed into other's people's backsides. Every time someone went to use the restroom or get drinks, the crowd had to wheeze and compact themselves in a slow responding reconfiguration much like a sluggish artificial intelligence calculation chugging along on an old computer. See the photo at the top of this, or see the one below, to get an idea of what the next four hours was like for yours truly. One woman rubbed her ass up against my thigh for half an hour and you have to understand, she was not grinding me on the dance floor, she was merely moving in a space without space, in which every movement was contact. One time I went to grab out my cellphone and I rubbed up against three people on the way up and pulled two people's hair. Another woman behind me threw decorum out the window and proceeded to use me as a tripod for her cellphone to record the show and would grab my shirt and pull on it to hold herself up to see better over my shoulder. One guy basically had his hand on my ass for several minutes because I think he was trying to get his cellphone out, and the space between his front pocket and my rear one was roughly the width of a single layer of jeans.

The crowd.

It is with something like irony that my memory of the concert mostly involves the constant contact with dozens of strangers across hours of being jostled and squeezed, though the show itself was not bad. G played a good number of songs, had a fair stage presence, and played up to the crowd in a good, friendly manner [though his stage schtick felt a bit fake and forced in times, such as his "From the bottom of my heart, this is the happiest I have ever been"]. The two songs I most wanted to hear, "You Got Me" and "I Mean It" were saved for the encore, which helped the whole thing end on a high note. The music was just about the right level of loud, and for all of their immense closeness and shared sweatiness, the crowd was roughly well behaved. Roughly. At one point in time, a failed crowd-surf nearly slammed a young man into the cement near my feet and I managed to get him up. At another, some women shoving their way forward to get a better view basically just slammed people out of their way. Also, see the beer and such thrown into the back of people's heads. Still, the mood was mostly a good-time one.

Knowing Sarah's hatred for crowds, her generally "meh" stance on G, and her need to get up early to go to work the next day, it is best she didn't actually show up to the show, though in some ways I wish she could have been at the back, watching the whole thing like an anthropological event. In contrast, she and I had gone to a Roomful of Teeth concert just the night before, and that one had been calm and collected and beautifully organized, with the crowd happy just to enjoy in thoughtful, weird music. Yet, for all the beauty of the Teeth-show compared to sweaty-animal-stink of the G-one, I will probably remember the Sloss Furnaces show more clearly, because it was truly one of the most unusual experiences of my life.

With that being said, I would go see Roomful of Teeth at the drop of the dime, while actively avoiding seeing another G-Eazy concert unless I can get some sort of box seating. Heh.

Photo credits for the first and third image (the crowd images): Thomas Williams.


Written by Doug Bolden

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