Frank Turner - a review of sorts
I did it. I went to a concert by myself. And I had fun! But it was not without its scary challenges. I've learned some lessons, too, I think.
I left work after changing out of my usual dress and boots into jeans and boots. Although I jettisoned everything I could, I still needed to carry my Cath Kidston (don't judge - yes it's floral, but it's useful) satchel as I'm reading Hilary Mantel's A Place of Greater Safety (an enormous brick of a book) and I also needed my wallet, keys, phone and so forth. However, a satchel is not ideal for moshing so I perhaps should have sacrificed the book...
I strolled leisurely through the city enjoying my freedom (usually I am literally running for a train and the bedlam that awaits at home). I picked up some hair gunk and mooched around the shops. Simple things that remind me I used to be an independent adult. Having skipped lunch, I bought some cold cuts and a bottle of water. There's a reasonably nice waiting room at Southern Cross so, with 90 minutes to fill, I settled down, read my book and, er, ate my salty meat.
I contemplated jumping on a train and going home. After all, I'd already had some fun (sad that an hour of freedom constitutes fun) and I was getting increasingly nervous at the prospect of sketchy venue surrounded by sketchy strangers.
Fortune favours the brave.
I started walking in the general direction of the Festival Hall. I spotted three rough-looking gents, one was wearing a kilt all three had impressive facial hair. Two lassies were in front of me - standard-issue grunge girls...but wait, that's a Dropkick Murphys tee-shirt. The penny dropped - kilt guys are going where I'm going, as are the grunge girls. I put the map back in my voluminous bag (I have a thick phone rather than a smart phone so cannot Google map on the move). I followed them and considered making conversation with lads, but since they detoured to a pub, I missed my opportunity and retrospectively felt relieved. As I felt [I]dangerous[/I], which is never good and often leads to unfortunate entanglements.
I arrived a few minutes after the time on the ticket and a band was already playing. They sounded as though they were from Essex and looked like a bunch of White supremacists. Surely not, but with screaming and howling, who can tell what the lyrics are? I stood towards the back and nursed my plastic beaker of lager (I haven't drunk lager in 15 or more years. My drinking progression went something like this: whiskey mac, sherry/wine, cider, White Lightning, lager, Black Velvet, stout, cocktails and settled on red wine). Lager is revolting, but it was either that or a G&T and I [B]like[/B] gin...
A second band came on: the Swinging Utters. I kept my place at the back and watched with mounting amusement. The lead singer contorted himself with syncopated physical jerks. When he got very excited he tapped his head with his mike. I scanned the crowd and spotted two FT tee-shirts in a sea of Dropkick Murphy merch. Kilts! Facial hair! Tatts! It was as if the dockworkers of Baltimore (I've seen The Wire) had descended on Melbourne...and that was just the laydeez. Speaking of the lassies, they were outnumbered 10:1 by the lads.
Every time I spotted a check shirt I thought: I wonder if that person is a Frank Turner fan?
Frank came on and the check shirts shuffled to the front. I positioned myself right at the front and watched the proceedings with great glee. I even pogo'd for a while, A Place of Greater Safety leaving bruises where it hit my spine. The bass player posed and gurned; they all did. It was brilliant. I like the music, but the theatre and the comedy were almost as much fun. It was a mid-length set - eight or ten songs, some banter. Frank said he'd be around after the Dropkick Murphy set to meet and greet.
I looked around the crowd, which was already getting quite rambunctious with its moshing, and made a tactical retreat. Getting a bit confused, I stumbled across the Swinging Utters round the back of the Festival Hall (which is a tiny fleapit), but they were unable to give me directions to North Melbourne. A five-minute walk along an unlit lane and I was at my train station.
However, there were no trains to my far-flung suburb. I climbed aboard the bus replacement service and settled back into the French revolution.
In bed before the Cinderella hour with my ears ringing, my feet were attacked by cramp that felt like it lasted a good hour. At 4am the small boy joined us. At 5am the alarm went off.
It was worth it.