Saturday, May 13, 2006

Cloud Cult

Gaining, Holding, Losing Ground
The Crocodile, Seattle, WA

There are a number of techniques you can use to hold your spot in a crowded club, a few of which are being described by a guy next to us as we wait for Cloud Cult to take the stage. "Keep your knees slightly bent and your feet a bit apart," he says, as if describing the proper body mechanics for lifting a heavy box, "and then don't let anyone move you, ever." This is a good theory, but it doesn't take a few variables into account that allow you to gain, hold, or lose ground.

Gaining ground: People will often start toward the back of the room and move up simply by filling in the vacuum of others who leave or shift around. Tonight we watch countless people do the casual shuffle forward the instant some poor sap dares to go out for a drink. Of course you can always just plow through to the front, but by the time the show starts you'll have all these people lowering their centers of gravity to get ready for you. So now you just hope for attrition.

Holding ground: Like our guide mentioned, you can make yourself practically unmovable if you want to. One gigantic guy tries to maneuver his way through the crowd, but a couple near me is having absolutely none of it. He is trapped and tries to make a joke of it, but he is far too large and lunk-headed to receive sympathy from anyone around him. This makes him a Foil.

Losing ground: You can get foiled at any moment. Try to be nice and let someone find their person in another part of the room, and they will end up in front of you, shoving you back slightly. Move aside so someone can get out, and they will not only stand in front of you, they will be one foot taller AND wider than you are (we shorter people believe all crowds should be arranged by height). Get what you think is a great spot and have the people around you be talkers, messy drunks, or smell-emitters. You can avoid being a Foil yourself by staying put, securing loose articles of clothing, and please dear god being quiet during quiet songs.

Illustrative examples: (1) An Italian couple in front of us chatters incessantly as the band starts, which would be infuriating if they didn't TALK SO PRETTY so I can't tell them to be quiet. (2) Italian man has a narrowly-defined sense of personal space and is happy to stand one half inch in front of me. (3) A well-dressed couple (my friend would call the guy a "cute little man") get progressively more drunk on PBR and Red Stripe, and eventually do the drunken slow dance to the fastest songs. (4) While Cloud Cult plays the lovely "Transistor," a guy on the other side of the room screams "SHUT THE HELL UP!" to the chatterers and now I love him.

Cloud Cult puts on a terrific show despite the crowd's jockeying for position. The best part is watching two painters on stage create these fantastic pieces while the band plays (they are later auctioned, and the one here that I love goes for $350). My little friend at the top of the page stands holding his ears for three full songs (earplugs, sweetie!). The audience is full of earnest math-rockers, the requisite where-did-you-come-from? beautiful girls, and the indie crowd. And the band crams a ton of music into one hour while gushing about Seattle, which of course makes them sound even better.


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