Hi Everybody! I have some great news! Today John Jurgensen of the Wall Street Journal featured Live Fix in “A Field Guide To Live Music Online” and in his “Is Video Killing the Concert Vibe” article.
And while we waited for dinner to come to our table we talked about all the great live music experiences we’ve had since we’ve been married. And though it endearingly captures a slice of the romantic dinner we had at Le Colonial in Chicago, this picture I took also reminds me why Colleen is the one taking the pictures and I’m the one writing the words when we cover concerts.
In addition to celebrating our wedding anniversary, I’d also like to celebrate a great week on Live Fix with this weekly wrap up, including live music news about Live Nation Q1 Losses and Immigration Laws, Mother’s Day and Sasquatch Festival Dancing Guy interviews, sensual eye experiments and news about upcoming baseball park concerts featuring Eminem and Jay-Z.
You’ll also want to check out the recent updates to our Live Fix summer music festival iPhone apps guide and the Foursquare fan and venue call-out experiment.
When I first saw the YouTube video of the Dancing Guy at Sasquatch Music Festival last year I had my doubts about whether or not it was real. But then I soon learned what I was watching was in fact real, organic and completely spontaneous. After I had my story straight, it was then time to talk to the Dancing Guy himself to see exactly how and why he started the massively joyful and inspiring swarm.
On Tuesday, Sasquatch festival announced its full line up and I couldn’t help but think of the sensational and inspiring Dancing Guy from 2009.
So how do we put all our experiences in perspective? Was there one moment that defined our concert experiences in 2009? Was there one event or topic that you loved reading about the most on Live Fix?
The collective ripple effect of thousands of “Joy Ambassadors” dancing in downtown Chicago during a Black Eyed Peas concert.
Like the rest of Chicago, I was amazed when I saw it (see above video). And usually mobs are angry and not this beautiful or inspiring to watch.
But this Flash Mob was swarming and surging for a different purpose.
That said, I had the chance to speak with my friend Jenny Schmidtz who was in the Flash Mob Dance for Oprah’s 24th season Kickoff Party in downtown Chicago. Jenny has practiced various forms of dance for several years so she was kind enough to take some time to talk about her passion for dance and training for the Oprah Flash Mob Dance.
Jenny did a great job of explaining how we as fans all have the power to spread joy during concerts via a contagious “ripple effect.” She also explained how she was inspired and what it felt like to be in the swarming the mob that looked more like a fantastic pulsing organism of communal celebration.
This 3 Part video interview with Jenny is a first for Live Fix. And I hope to do more video interviews with other fans and artists. The interview took place on the streets of Chicago so I hope you enjoy it as Jenny tells her Inside the Mob story.
Giving the Black Eyed Peas Another Chance
After the interview I gained a new perspective on the Black Eye Peas latest album THE E.N.D. (Energy Never Dies). I’ve haven’t been crazy about “Boom Boom Pow” but I after talking with Jenny I have better idea of what the song “I’ve Gotta Feeling” can do to a live crowd. So I’ll give the BEPs another chance because I think it must’ve been so hard to wait your turn to dance during the Flash Mob and not be instantly under the influence of the individual.
This interview was lots of fun and special thanks to my wife Colleen who became a videographer for the first time and did a great job!
Part One is below and you can check out Parts 2 & 3 on the Live Fix YouTube Channel. I invite you to subscribe as I’ll be adding more videos in the coming weeks.
Were you in the Flash Mob?
What did you think when you saw it?
Halfway through the summer Pitchfork Music Festival gave me the chance to experience many of my favorite bands in a live setting for the first time.
Over the course of three days, some left my jaw on the ground while others left me shaking my head in disappointing disarray.
Not so with the Flaming Lips. This wasn’t the first time that I have seen them but it was the first time that I have seen them (or any band) crawl out of a digital vagina. Here’s a snippet of my reviewof Pitchfork Festival for Ink19. And stay tuned for an enhanced sensory and interactive video of the Flaming Lips live performance that I took as Wayne Coyne floated above us in a gigantic bubble.
The Flaming Lips are a magnificent spectacle. That’s all I could think of as I watched each band member crawl out of a digital vagina that flashed on the massive video screen back drop during the show’s dramatic introduction. Wayne Coyne floated…
What were some of your favorite experiences at music festivals this summer?
How about any Screaming Ladies?
Perhaps you noticed a few Little Things?
Until I saw the Dancing Guy YouTube clip, I’ve spent most of my time on Live Fix exploring and wondering about group concert behavoir as opposed to the individual fan impact on live concert culture. When it comes to assessing fan behavior and determining whether or not drugs and alcohol is aiding their ability to express themselves, the assessing is usually best done case to case, and on a one-to-one basis.
Getting to know the individual through one-on-one assessment is one of the main goals during individual counseling. It’s what trained psychologists do. Professional psychologists have seen hundred (or even thousands) of cases, so when they see person they usually know all the right questions to ask.
I’m always amazed at guys like Dr. Drew who can, in a matter of minutes, ask the right series of questions, thoughtfully and carefully, to assess and understand what an indivual’s personality is like.
And once you take the time to get to know an individual and their history, only then can you accurately gauge, whether or not, they’re likely to express themselves a certain way in a non-concert setting–with or without drugs or alcohol. The benefit of getting to know the individual is that you’re able to better determine if what their expressing at a concert is aided or enhanced by drugs or alcohol, or if it’s just pure human emotion in all its glory.
That said, I haven’t been able to ask these types of questions to Collin, or get to know what he’s like outside of the concert environment. But if I was to take a guess, I would say he appears to be the kind of guy who obviously loves to respond to live music without restrictions. And he’s not that interested in starting, or being a part of swarms at concerts, either. If you know Collin, or know how I can get in touch with him, please let me know. I’d love to get to know him and his perspective, too.
Endless Summer of Expression
From Sasquatch to Pitchfork Music Festival, so far it’s been a busy summer filled with festivals that are teaming with interesting fan behavior. After Collin’s swarm video, my radar has been up. And believe me, I’ve seen several other displays of dancing fans that didn’t have the same swarming impact. But nonetheless those dancing fans didn’t care that they were the only ones jigging out. I’ve seen fans twirl hula hoops with abandon. But so far the one scene that’s stuck with me the most(for obvious reasons) has been the one during Matisyahu at Rothbury when I saw a naked couple prancing around in all their glory.
What types of interesting fan behavoir have influenced you this summer?
Yep, I was wrong.
Since my original post I’ve received responses back from inquiries I sent to both fans who’s videos I featured on the original post. And in the wake of their comments, I’ve had to rethink my initial thoughts about the swarm started by the Dancing Guy.
Included below is the first response from the fan who captured the actual swarm, followed by the second response from the fan who captured the Dancing Guy moments before the swarm ( In case you haven’t seen them yet, I’ve also included the original videos below each respective response.)
Both responses , as I hoped, provided great insight and perspective on the situation. The responses also confirmed the power of positive influence that one person can have over a large group of people.
I especially enjoyed Mason’s explanation of what the festival environment was like as fans responded to, and interacted with, “The Dancing Guy” (Collin Wynter of Vermont) throughout the festival. The responses came to me via email and a comment made on the original post. Note: Aside from minor formating edits, I did not made any edits to their original messages or comments.
Official Swarm Video Response:
Thanx for taking the time to watch my video! I can assure you however that there was nothing manufactured about this occurrence it was simply a spontaneous sequence of events that i happened to catch on film. The guy who started the dance party is named Collin Wynter out of Calgary Alberta Canada, Im from Vancouver…He wound up contacting me after the video gained such popularity. Collin was seen by everyone the whole long weekend, dancing everywhere, i dont think there was anyone who attended the festival that didnt see him at some point so its of no surprise that he was the leader behind the events that unfolded…everyone was in good spirits…beautiful sunshine and the most amazing venue you could hope for…the atmosphere was no less than perfect and the people began to swarm…I would have been one of the first in there had i not been filming but am glad i captured what i did…There is hope in humanity for a little spontaneous fun after all! No script, no acting, just a bunch of people living in the moment and forgeting about cares, worries, and judgments.
Before the Swarm Video Response:
Festivals are a much different atmosphere than other concerts. You have to understand the type of people who attend festivals; 3 day drinking binges, traveled thousands of miles to attend a concert, willing to sleep, shower, and shit publicly for 3 days, etc.
The event itself is unique: one band stripped down to their speedos, threw their equipment to the audience, and proceeded to yell intelligibly at the microphone as the audience held up the equipment and the artists. A couple was spotted having sex on the top of the hill opposite the stage (also on YouTube) and was also put on the “Jumbo-Tron” while performing (not on YouTube). Mt. St. Helen’s Vietnam Band’s lead singer yelled at the audience “Fuck You!” and “You’re all faggots!” while going on emotional tirades between songs (and even before the equipment was tuned). Tim & Eric came on stage wearing nothing but cock-socks (as far as I could tell – I could barely see them from where I was). The entire festival was one crazy experience after another.
I don’t think the event was staged at all. I’d seen the guy earlier throughout the festival and he was doing pretty much the same kind of dance “routine”. But what the videos don’t portray is that a lot of people had been approaching him everyday of the festival. I think a lot of people were doing it mockingly (”Look, I’m playing with the retard!”), but some were genuinely those type of people to join in and dance. I think what you see is the culmination of those latter type of people.
Two main reasons that I don’t think the event was staged:
1. The event happened towards the very end of the song, if staging the event – I would have done it earlier.
2. He was not comfortable with all those people. You can’t see it on these videos but the Dancing Guy immediately escaped from the audience (back to where I was) and was yelling “[Do whatever you want! Just go and do whatever you want!]”
My vote is that it was a genuine moment, but one that is unique to the multi-day festival (and can be witnessed on a smaller scale at a one-day festival) atmosphere. I will attend more multi-day festivals and I would suggest others to do so as well.
It was great to have Mason (who posted the before the Swarm video) provide additional background info on other outrageous fan behavior going on at Sasquatch Festival. But it was very interesting to learn that Collin escaped the very mob he created and yelled for the mob to “do what it wants.” Also learning that other fans where mocking Collin while others where genuinely inspired by him really gave me insight into how we respond to someone like Collin who didn’t let his surroundings stop him from outwardly expressing how much he was enjoying the festival.
But, as Mason pointed out, I wonder about those who mock someone who’s genuiely expressing themself in the moment like Collin was? Are those people jealous of people like Collin? More importantly, what can we learn from Collin when it comes to expressing ourselves with thousands of other fans at a concert? And what does this situation tells us about how our behavior, and self-expression, at concert impacts other fans?
What Do You Think?
Do you think it’s beneficial for us to express ourselves like Collin did? Is it something you wish you saw more of at concerts? Or is it an annoying distraction to your enjoyment when it goes beyond its limits? What are the limits, or boundaries?
I’ll leave you with this final thought (and please understand that I don’t ask this as judgement but purely to explore a regular part of fan behavior at concerts).
It’s my job to doubt and question human behavior.
I guess by doubting whether or not this event was staged also makes me a a bit of disbeliever in the likelihood of pure emotional response of fans at concerts. But I guess that’s hte journalist in me, too.
But I also know the reality of the music festival environment, especially camping festivals. And I know that drugs and alcohol often go hand in hand more times than not. And I know fans and artists can both rely on drugs and alcohol to help relax and loosen them up so they can perform and enjoy the show better. But what does it say about us if we need drugs and alcohol in order to express ourselves? Is this a good thing? Or is it a part of our human behavior that’s disappointing and needs improvement?
Even though I’ve never really enjoyed alcohol, and I’ve never used drugs before, I also know that we all have our own personal ways of making ourselves feel comfortable in a public setting with strangers or friends. Some of us light a cigarette, some of us crack a silly joke and some of us throw down a few beers to calm the anxieties and take off the edge.
So whenever I see a fan with displaying a low level of inhibition at a concert–whether they’re dancing about or being overly touchy with others around them– I often wonder how much they’re relying on drugs and alcohol to get them to that low level of inhibition. Then I usually ask myself ‘is what I’m seeing pure expression?
What I’m wondering about in all of this is that I’d like to experience what the concert environment would be like if there was no drugs or alcohol available. How would fans behave? Would we see more or less Dancing Guys like Collin? Would this increase or decrease levels of enjoyment of the performance?
How would you respond if you didn’t drink alcohol at the next concert you went to? Would you be able to connect emotionally with the performance? Can we get to that level of lowered inhibitions without drugs or alcohol?
Stay tuned as I explore on the next post if we’re “under the influence of the individual.”
Santogold’s “Unstoppable” is a great song. And I don’t doubt its power to ignite a massive live concert swarming dance party. And it’s a great anthem for this story, too.
But when I first watched the YouTube video from last month’s Sasquatch Festival where this “Dancing Guy” starts a dance party during Santogold ‘s “Unstoppable,” I too was inspired like all the other who watched the video.
But after watching it several times I began to wonder if it was really real. I wondered if it was staged.
Why would I wonder this?
Well, first off, having been in concert crowds at festivals before, I’ve seen guys like this Dancing Guy before. And rarely does anyone else ever rise to their feet to join them like the swarm of people did with this guy. I always wished someone would but it never happens like this.
So as I viewed the other YouTube videos that captured the Dancing Guy ten minutes before and during the Swarm, I noticed that the response seemed to be more on the artificially manufactured side. And I wondered if a crafty fan was creating their own live concert fantasy for their own person kicks and or to create a thrilling YouTube effect.
The other things that make me think this might not be a true fan response are case studies in social psychology, community psychology and other socialogical documentation of human behavior, specifically things like social loafing and the bystander effect documented in the 1964 Kitty Genovese murder case. All these studies of group behavior show that group reactions like the swarming fan response to the “Dancing Guy” seem a bit odd and fantastically manufactured.
What I’m going to do is try to contact the makers of the videos below to see if what I thinking is true or not. (I’ll keep you updated)
Because one thing I do know is that videos like these, even though they’re very inspiring to watch, just seem weird because they create a false reality that appears “manufactured.”
Again, I’m not hating on anyone or trying to be a buzz kill. I’m a huge fan of Santogold and I fully support any healthy, genuine and spontaneous explosion that expresses joy and pleasure. I’m just questioning the masses because this was so oddly fantastic and different from normal fan behavior I’ve seen at concerts.
And if this is a true and actual spontaneous concert fan response caught on video, then what we have here my friends, is a true live concert phenomenon that we should treasure and think about recreating more often at concerts.
What do you think about how your concert behaviors influence others? Have your ever thought of joining, or emulating, the “Dancing Guy?”
Here’s two of the videos that I watched. Tell me what you think.
The Dancing Guy Before the Swarming “Dance Party”:
The “most watched “Dancing Guy” video: