Irrational Encounters With The Modern World

Silence Isn’t Always Golden.

I go to a lot of gigs, and have done regularly since the year 2000. I’ve seen a lot of bands and had some cool experiences – I saw Pantera and David Bowie play (what turned out to be, to date) their final Glasgow shows; I saw The Lostprophets play their first ever show here; had ticket number 00001 to see HIM; got into a Rammstein gig in exchange for two litres of vodka; watched Anthrax soundcheck.

I’ve seen my favourite band twenty-five times to date, beaten only by a local band that I saw play close to forty times or more. As well as Glasgow and Edinburgh, I’ve been to gigs in Manchester, Nottingham, Preston, Donington, London, Brighton, New York, and Holland. The last gig I went to was a whole new experience though. I was at Summer Darkness this year, a weekend festival headlined by the band Suicide Commando. They played a “vintage” set on the Friday, which sold out, and a “best of” set on the Sunday.

Any time I have seen a band, ever, there has been a sense of excitement prior to them taking the stage. In the UK, and particularly in Glasgow, this manifests itself closest to the anticipated start time – people cheering, clapping, and chanting the band’s name over the pre-show music. Often it builds, dies, starts again, dies again. Then the stage tech flashes his torch at the Front-of-House guys, the music stops and the lights go out, before the band’s intro music begins. In this moment, from the torch being shone until the band take the stage, the venue erupts with the sound of hundreds or thousands of excited fans. It is so familiar to me, that I never expected it could ever be different. I was wrong.

On Friday night, the band came on stage, to play a headline set to a packed crowd. The lights died, and there was SILENCE. Absolute silence. Nobody spoke, or cheered, or whooped, or whistled, or screamed the band’s name, or anything. Just total silence.

It was a really weird experience, and I can’t imagine what it must feel like for the band, knowing you have sold every ticket and yet unable to tell if you have an audience until you step foot on the stage.

I was shattered, having had almost no sleep in the previous week, and so my mind played tricks on me – over the course of the weekend, I began to think maybe I had imagined it, or exaggerated it in my head. But on Sunday, comparatively well rested and completely sober, the exact same thing happened again: packed crowd, yet when the music stopped and the lights dropped, there was absolute silence. I have never seen anything like it.

This isn’t terribly absurd, I realise, but it was just so strange to witness. These guys are highly regarded in the international scene, so for them to not draw applause from a single person… Yeah, weird.




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