No sooner had we found the perfect spot... than a group of very tall people materialised in front of us
COVID-19 lockdowns and social distancing have made big musical events a rarity, so arriving at Auckland’s Eden Park to watch Six60 on a Saturday night with 50,000 other people was an amazing, if not surreal, experience.
The historic night – the first concert to be held in New Zealand’s largest sports stadium – opened with local acts, including Sir Dave Dobbyn and Drax Project.
Maybe I’ve just forgotten what it’s like to be in a crowd of that size, but it felt like I’d never seen a place so packed. Being at Mt Smart for U2 two years ago could not compare.
As we walked into the stadium, our posse of four had one simple goal: get as close to the stage as physically possible. This was no small feat.
Starting from the back of the general admission area, we held hands to prevent losing anyone in the swarm, slowly snaking our way through the crowd as Dave Dobbyn belted out “Slice of Heaven”.
Every now and again, we’d stop, deciding not to push our luck, thinking we’d made it far enough.
But then we’d see a gap in the hordes up ahead and would push forward again.
Perhaps it was punishment for our greed, because no sooner had we found the perfect spot, just in time for Drax Project to take the stage, than a group of very tall people materialised in front of us.
We had just spent the last hour working towards our perfect view of the stage, and now it was blocked.
It made me consider campaigning for a rule that the general admission area should be regulated in height order of attendees.
To make matters worse, one of the gang of giants was wearing a backpack. Totally unaware of how much space he was taking up, every time he moved, or bent over, he shoved me in the face with his backpack. How he even managed to get that bag through the security gates is beyond me.
A certain art comes with being a concertgoer. It starts with common courtesy: not wearing a backpack, for one thing. Generally being aware of your surroundings is another.
I mean, when the lead singer is yelling at you to “put your hands in the air”, short of flinging up your arms and accidentally knocking out the person next to you (accidentally on purpose if a certain tall person with a backpack on is in the vicinity), it is not as simple a manoeuvre as one would expect.
You have to be nimble, dodging said backpacks, avoiding being drenched with beer as people crash through the crowds, their trays of drinks flailing... This is not easy when you’re packed in like sardines.
It takes a lot of concentration to catch the drunk who keeps collapsing beside you, dance without sticking an elbow into someone’s eye or standing on another person’s foot, and at the same time, remember all the words to the hits.
It may mean almost getting knocked over countless times, but at least you’re improving your awareness and balance skills. It’s all part of the experience, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
To be attending a concert at all feels like a privilege.
Screaming yourself hoarse to songs written and performed by our very own musical talent – that’s a feeling that can’t be beat.