Tales of a Crowd-Surfing Virgin

It’s kind of sad. Really, it is. I admit, before seeing the Gaslight Anthem at Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel, I had never, ever thought about crowd-surfing. You’ve seen it before – person taps a strong-looking fellow on the shoulder, gives him a thumbs up, and before you can blink, there he is, riding a sea of hands moving toward the pissed-off-looking bouncers (who deal with this almost every night). Why had I never done it before? Maybe it was the fear of being dropped almost 7 feet onto my ass, or the fear of people stealing and throwing my shoes/wallet/phone. Maybe it was the fear of doing something I couldn’t control. Well, in the spirit of a good story, I threw caution to the wind. I surfed the crowd for the first time in my life at the tender age of 23. And it was AWESOME.

After rocking with Gates (yes, Mr. Brian Fallon, some of us actually know who Gates is! I was yelling at you when you assumed we didn’t) and The Sidekicks for an hour, and becoming properly deafened as a result of standing directly in front of the massive tower of speakers, we … waited. Waited. Waited some more. Growing uneasy, the crowd did everything to bring the band out sooner, at one point even chanting, “U-S-A!” as though this was the Olympics. FINALLY, around 10 pm, we cheered as lead singer and guitarist Brian Fallon descended the steps on stage left and the band took the stage to the entirely predictable “Handwritten,” the title track off their most recent album. Having seen them in May at the Stone Pony Summer Stage in Asbury Park, NJ, I expected this, even betting my friend Kevin that they would come out to it. He owes me a beer.

Playing the entire Handwritten album, the band also did something I had not seen them do since the first time I saw them in concert, again, at the Stone Pony almost six years ago. They played some of the songs off of their first two cd releases: Sink or Swim, and Senor and the Queen. For that, I thank you; do that more often.

By 11:15, the band had been to the dressing room and back for their encore, and I had made my choice to jump into the crowd (well, onto the crowd). Finding a guy in the crowd who was throwing people to surf was not hard; I gave him the thumbs up, jumped up, and … fell on my ass. Whoops. At least my head didn’t hit the floor, and other concert goers were quick to offer me a helping hand to get up.

Take #2. Jump up, and … success! Floating over the crowd and making sure not to be the douchebag who keeps his feet low and kicks people in the face, I meandered my way to the stage, smiling and laughing the entire way. After being caught by the bouncer and gently placed onto the ground, I had to ask myself: why haven’t I done this before?

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