Disclaimer: This article is not about Lana Del Rey. This article is about my time at a Lana Del Rey concert and the so-called atrocities I experienced.
I have been to quite a few shows in my day ranging from a local hardcore show with a full-blown mosh-pit (blood and everything! Gee whiz!), a Russian folk dancing quartet (AWESOME!!), Backstreet Boys (DOUBLE AWESOME!!), and a bunch of way too cool for you bands (I am exaggerating of course). I have been around every type of crowd and yet, this was the first time I have ever left a show early because of the quality of the fans. This article may come off whiny and I fully admit to that.
I am 24 years old, soon to be 25, and my first concert was when I was 6 at the Electric Factory. I know what to expect and I know how to act at shows, concerts, plays, comedy shows etc. While not everyone at the Lana Del Rey show behaved poorly, I would say that my experience with others was about 85% negative. There were some fans who were polite and said “excuse me” instead of pushing into you and being upset that you called them an expletive. This is the story of how what was supposed to be an amazing, totally fantastic, incredible etc. etc. night turned into shitoke mushrooms very quickly.
When I tried desperately to buy tickets to Lana Del Rey when they went on sale, and barely managed to get them, I should have taken it as a sign from a higher power that it took me 10 minutes to finally get through to Ticketmaster’s website for the event. About $120 dollars later, I began to countdown to the day when I would be in the songstress’s presence.
Sure I have seen the SNL performance that got the world talking and the many Tumblr gifs that followed. Yes, I read the countless negative reviews about her sold-out shows and the singer’s penchant for singing poorly. Did that make a difference to me? Nope, not one bit! I knew Lana wouldn’t be as good as her recordings based on her own musings about hating to perform live and her extreme case of stage fright. Sometimes the experience of seeing one of your favorite performers live is enough.
How wrong I was…
When pulling up to the Mann Center for the Performing Arts, 3 hours before gates opened mind you, my friend, and I were shocked to see a mile-long line already formed. I thought we were being proactive about arriving early, but apparently, fans had begun to arrive in the wee hours of the morning bedecked in floral headbands and crop-tops. We joined the line after parking and began the most torturous 3-hour wait of my life. Even being stuck at an airport for 7 hours was less awful. Our lack of nicotine and hydration only added fuel to the fire. We were surrounded not by people our own age (mid-20s) but by pre-teen girls who had set up blankets and were drinking their parents’ alcohol out of Poland Spring water bottles. Most of them had been dropped off by their parents, but quite a few had their father or Mother in line with them. When the attendants came around and began ID-ing concert-goers who were planning on consuming alcohol, there were only a handful who were able to. One girl pulled out her ID only to have the attendant laugh at her and explain that she needn’t show ID showing that she was 18 years old.
When finally, the time came for the gates to open, you would have thought that peoples’ life depended on getting as close as possible to Lana even if it meant dying in the process. There was a mad rush complete with people running from the back of the line, now about 2 miles long, and joining people at the front. One group of barely-high school-aged girls had about 10 girls join their group at the front. It was infuriating to say the very least and I don’t know what the security at the Mann was doing considering there were no repercussions and most of the yellow-shirted “muscle” sat back and puffed on cigarettes while this was all happening. I would like to point out that I have been to a decent amount of shows at the Mann and I did consider it one of the better venues in the city, but after last night, I kind of don’t feel the same way.
Finally, after waiting forever and a half and managing to get a pretty nasty 3rd-degree sunburn, we made it to the front where the attendant tried to scan my tickets in by way of a smartphone, a new “green” option that the venue is trying to implement. Of course, my tickets would not scan, because why would they? At this point, I was expecting something of this nature. I pleaded with the woman to let the people behind us continue to be let in (a line spanning the 100’s) but she got annoyed when I stepped to the side. “You can’t do that, ma’am”, as if I was some type of terrorist. A woman appeared out of nowhere and took my phone. The degree of un-professionalism at this place was absurd, considering I have never had an experience like this at any venue. She finally returned, said we were good and ended up dropping my phone on the ground. Whatever.
Despite the pandemonium going on around us, we ended up getting pretty great spots. Front row towards the right of the stage. Had a great view and, since apparently, no one there had ever been to a general admission show before, every person was crammed into a giant mass front row center. This information will be important to remember in just a few sentences. We grabbed some libations and met up with some really nice people our own age (shout out to Julian and his friends, you guys were great). I thought everything would end up being fine and that maybe, just maybe, the concert would be worth the price tag. Once again, I was very wrong.
It started almost as soon as we found our spot. Young girls were carried by big, burly security guards who yelled “MEDIC!!!” loudly while running over to the area around our spot. Young girls, sweaty and pale, some crying, some looking listless. What was going on? Were people being poisoned? Should I run for cover? No… not even that exciting.
People were having anxiety attacks. Full-blown Beatles-Esque meltdowns.
As someone who has suffered from anxiety in the past, I know how scary an attack can be. My friend who was there also admitted to suffering an attack at a show before. That being said, if you are new to the show circuit and ESPECIALLY new to general admission shows in very hot weather, you need to have a realistic expectation. Is it really worth it to be so close to your favorite musician that you can see their clogged pores or nostril hair? Absolutely not! You should be there to enjoy the music and have a once-in-a-lifetime experience. You passing out and or having a panic attack will not only ruin your night but you may be escorted out of the show. Instead of trying to be front row and center, do what I did and get a spot on the side. Or, if you are concerned about the quality of the music, sit further back. It really isn’t hard to have a good time at a show even if you are not close.
According to reviews of other shows, Lana normally doesn’t have an opening act. This time she did. Her ex-boyfriend, who apparently inspired “Born to Die” among other songs in her surprisingly vast catalog (youtube it, please), came out clad in a ripped shirt and an acoustic guitar. Jimmy Gnecco wasn’t bad, but it was un-remarkable. To be honest, at this point everything seemed kind of un-remarkable. I plan on giving him a good listen when I am not reeling from the atrocities of my Lana experience.
At this point, our section was being bombarded by young girls trying desperately to push us out of the way. They were frightening and surprisingly scrappy and I may or may not have called a bunch of 14-year-old girls “A**holes”. I’m not a perfect human being, but there is nothing more infuriating than a group of CHILDREN pushing you, a grown-ass woman, out of the way so they can raise their iPhones in the air and hope for a shot centered on something. Since they were under 4ft tall, I am surprised they could see anything. A very wacky young man tried to desperately make his way into our group and miserably failed. Words were exchanged, he claimed he deserved to be there more than anyone and also copped to stalking Lana Del Rey at the Chateau Marmont. I also discovered that extreme fans of Lana Del Rey refer to her as “Lan” as if they know her personally. This is kind of weird, and I do not think the fandom realizes how horrible they seem to me, someone who doesn’t put a musician on a pedestal.
Finally, that moment everyone had been waiting for. Amid the blood, sweat, tears, and weed smoke, a single woman walked out on stage and the sound emitted from a thousand young girls was most certainly deafening, yet, also, banshee-like. She did look beautiful, at least, from the bits and pieces I could see that was not obscured by the sea of smartphones capturing snippets of time to be posted on Instagram pages. I even saw someone snap-chatting a video of her to, more than likely, a depressed 13-year-old girl whose mother and father would not pay the $200+ Stubhub price for the sold-out ticket. In this day and age, going to a concert means reserving bragging rights and not actually enjoying the music. How sad that you cannot put your phone down for two seconds to enjoy what is more-than-likely, the first and only time experiencing a Lana Del Rey show. Although, maybe after reading this, you may decide to just watch live videos on youtube.
Things took a turn for the worst when I almost got into a kerfluffle with a middle-aged woman who pushed her way in front of me and started recording video. At this point, I had had enough. Words were exchanged, I had sunk to a new low, and my friend and I decided to get food and watch the show from the very back. Which in hindsight, we should have done from the beginning. The atmosphere was a lot more relaxed and the sound/view was not obscured. We ended up deciding to leave after Lana performed “Summertime Sadness”. While walking to the parking lot, we heard the opening to “Million Dollar Man”, one of Lana’s best numbers. The sound quality in the parking lot ended up being probably the best out of the entire area. It was also the moment where you can tell Del Rey was struggling with certain notes. Oh well. I came knowing full well that most of her songs are tricky to perform live considering the amount of vocal layering and music involved with the studio recordings. From the times I could hear her voice, it did sound like she was uncomfortable and apprehensive. There was almost a hesitation when she would begin a song as if she was thinking, “should I do this or not?”. This was definitely evident in the beginning of “Radio” where she began a few beats too late. That being said, her dedication to her fans, even the insane ones, says a lot to me and the countless others that absolutely adore her. Del Rey has always been open about her stage fright and reluctance to perform live, but she’s open about it and I think that goes a long way.
At the end of the day, I regretted my decision to purchase tickets to the show but I cannot say that I put the blame on Lana Del Rey herself, but rather the Mann Center and the fans that completely ruined what was supposed to be a great night. I think the majority of the people at the show need a lesson or two on concert etiquette and maybe should go see a few smaller shows to determine how to behave in a show setting. Also, next time, maybe have 18 and older shows for those of us who want to enjoy a concert and not feel like we are babysitting the newest generation of music fans.