I’ve made many bad decisions on a Friday night: Sex with a German back packer who looked like one of the Umbilical Brothers, drunken roller skating that resulted in 7 stitches to my head, that fist fight I got into at the church fair – I’ve done some really dumb shit.
But four days ago I made the worst TGIF choice in my life: I went to R&B Fridays Live concert at the Brisbane Showgrounds.
If your squad is planning on forking out a small fortune to attend a US-style mega concert together, do yourselves a favour: Go to a festival instead. Here are eight reasons why stadium concerts like this one can fuck right off.
1. Whoever the brilliant sound engineers in this country are, they sure as hell aren’t working for H!T105 FM.
Say what you like about the types of music played at bush doofs and alternative festivals, but at least this scene can locate sound engineers who actually know what they’re doing.
A chimp with a tuning fork and a megaphone could have achieved better sound quality than what I witnessed at R&B Fridays Live, or as I like to call it, “One night and $150 that could have been better spent doing literally anything else”.
Trey’s set was particularly woeful, with blown out bass drowning out any semblance of rhythm or blues for the vast majority of his performance. Oh, and his vocals were about 1 ½ seconds out time with the rest of that god-awful cacophony. Apparently the acoustics of a gigantic open-air arena packed with tens of thousands of people are not that great. Fuck me right?
2. Say, “Make some noise!” again! I dare you, I double dare you motherfucker!
There’s nothing more pathetic and irritating than an MC who, realising the crowd is (quite understandably) having a shit time, yet wanting very much to keep their precious international artists happy, resorts to desperately asking you to look and sound like you’re interested. Over and over again. Here’s a novel idea: How about you put on a show that’s worth applauding?
At least at a festival, if one band is shit, you can mozey on down to another act.
3. Hi hello, yes, hi, do you have a spot that isn’t covered in garbage and vomit?
Ok, so to be fair, I wore open-toed flats to this event, which is a rookie error by any measure. I guess I’ve been spoiled with the “leave no trace” mentality at doofs and wasn’t expecting my exposed feet to be slipping around on the sea of trash and vomit rapidly accumulating on the outer-edge of the mosh.
Oh, and, while festival organisers forced punters to remove bottle caps on their $5 Powerade bottles (because somehow the risk of bottles being used as projectiles outweighs the very real risk of drink spiking), the presence of hundreds crushed aluminium cans lying on the dance floor just waiting to slice open unsuspecting punter’s feet was deemed an acceptable risk.
4. And then they unveiled a disgraceful new advertising technique
This event took shameless marketing to a whole new level, leaving me gobsmacked by a stunt I guarantee you will never, ever, see at a festival.
Halfway through the concert, the music abruptly stopped and a video started playing on the mega-screens. At first, we waited with bated breath, thinking it must be one of those video clips with a little preamble, and that the next artist would pop out at any moment and burst into song.
Nope. It was a movie trailer. They stopped an entire concert to play a fucking ad.
5. Plus, there were plenty of disgusting vibes from unchecked men…
Now, this particular gripe might not relate to all concerts. It could just be an R&B thing.
Either way, the gross, rapey vibes permeating this particular event left me and all of my girlfriends feeling uncomfortable and unsafe.
Throughout the night, many men groped women’s shoulders and waists while attempting look as if they were innocently trying to get past them. Then there were the others who blatantly grabbed bum, breasts, hips and vaginas before disappearing into the crowd, unidentified.
In short: R&B Fridays Live was rife with sexual aggression that simply wouldn’t be tolerated at any other venue.
6. … and actual violence against women
Here’s another thing you won’t see at a festival: A man violently assaulting a woman in public with no repercussions whatsoever.
At R&B Fridays we witnessed a woman approach a male standing near my group, and, after she said something that he didn’t like, the beefed-up bloke lunged forward at her, and had to be held back by his mates. He managed to wrench himself just free enough to elbow the woman square in the face.
In the process of this scuffle playing out, the smallest girl in our group was knocked over. When her sister politely asked one of the men in the group to step forward, so he’d stop bumping into her, the man retorted, “Where’s ya man at? Go get your man or fuck off.”
Now, do you think there was even a security guard, let alone a police officer standing at the ready to deal with this kind of behaviour? Of course not. In fact, despite the crowd of 30,000 people, we counted only 8 police at the entire event.
7. Fun fact: “Live” performances are just people singing over backing tracks now
Maybe I’m getting old, but, back in my day when someone put on a “live” event and even went so far as to put “live” in the name of the said event, you would expect the music to be performed, not just played.
At R&B Fridays, the vast majority of artists (except for Usher) reverted to singing and rapping sporadically over the top of their backup tracks, occasionally injecting a half-hearted “Uh!” “Yeah!” or “Awh!” into the mix.
Look: If you can hear an artist’s voice, and their lips aren’t moving, that is not live fucking music. If I wanted to watch some washed up has-been (I’m looking at you, Eve), stomp around dispassionately parroting a line they don’t even believe in, I’d put on Question Time.
8. If you enjoy waiting for the most basic of amenities, you’re going to love stadium concerts!
A lot of people whinge that bush doofs are 3 or 4 hours drive from civilisation. In response to these complaints, I’d like to quote Doctor Evil: Boo-frickety-hoo.
If you think a pleasant country drive is an inconvenient waste of your time, you’ve never been to a mega-concert. Those who rocked up to the Brisbane Showgrounds for R&B Fridays Live could expect to wait:
- 1 hour in the car after entering the 3km traffic jam engulfing the event
- 30 minutes in the car park crawling around looking for a spot
- 45 minutes in an unventilated underground basement housing the line to get into the event (they didn’t check ID’s at this 18+ event, by the way)
- 45 minutes in a 200m line to buy a drink
- 20 minutes in line to use a toilet (unless, like me, you found the less popular poopers)
- 1 hour in the crush of people piling out of the event after the last act and;
- 45 minutes getting out of the parking lot traffic and dodging drunks while driving out
TLDR: Big concerts are the fucking worst, go to a festival instead
No matter how big the name or how mesmerisingly sexual their dancing is (yes watching Usher hump a microphone stand was indeed glorious), no artist can redeem the logistical nightmare that is a mega-concert.
The time and energy you’ll waste waiting in lines, trying to ignore the trashy atmosphere and disappointing sound quality, and dodging the gross, predatory vibes these hyper-commercial exploits always seems to attract just isn’t worth it.