Tyler The Creator | photo by Koof Ibi Umoren for WXPN
The Key’s Year-End Mania: Koof Ibi Umoren’s top places for a Philly introvert to enjoy live music
There are a lot of misconceptions linking introversion to aloofness, misanthropy, or shyness. The truth is, a lot of introverts socialize very easily but just prefer not to. It’s kind of like a battery meter. If extroverts are energized by constant personal interactions, introvert are drained by it and require solitude and introspection in order to recharge. That’s not to say they don’t enjoy social situations. They enjoy going to shows but can find small talk and crowded spaces uncomfortable. For that reason, I’m reluctant to share my top places for Philly introverts to enjoy live music.
The balcony is obviously the best place to gain a full perspective of the show. Not only do you get a birds-eye view of the whole stage (did you even know there was a second synth player?), but you usually have the opportunity to do some solid people-watching and dance-analysis. If you’re a true introvert, then you already have a pair of bird-watching binoculars from your solo hikes. These work pretty well on humans, and musicians. If you’re quiet, the people below won’t even know you’re there. (It took me at least a year to realize that Johnny Brenda’s had a balcony). Be sure to bring a notepad to document new species sightings. You may encounter a few photographers, videographers, or live-streamer looking for their best angle, but don’t worry, they’re usually as introverted as you are, choosing to let their photography do the talking. I’d suggest checking out the balcony at the Rotunda, although, depending on the show, it may involve some sneaking.
Make friends with at least one musician. They’re usually pretty easy to win over through compliments, drinks, and feigned interest. Once you’re on their good side, they’re very open and welcoming. That’s when you strike and ask about guest lists and backstage passes! As a reward for your extraversion, a whole new world is open to you. The green room couch is one of the most comfortable seats in the house, if you’re willing to overlook the things that may or may not have happened on it in the past. For covertness, a pair of sunglasses, one earbud and a subtle head nod could be your best friend, as musicians are wary of disturbing someone who seems to be “in the zone.” Once the musos hit the stage, the room is yours. Search the walls for the venues wifi password so you can pretend to be on your phone. Hospitality varies from venue to venue, but keep and eye out for a cupboard full of tea with no cups, a tray of hummus, or a warm case of Narragansett sitting next to the Red Bull freezer. Some of the best green rooms have speaker systems that allow you to monitor and control the volume of what’s happening on stage. Great venues even have a shower and clean towers for those who love live music and singing in the shower.
Now, this one may be a stretch, but stay with me.. The classic “dive” bathroom stall offers a small respite from a possibly overwhelming event. For the least traffic, I’d recommend setting up shop in a men’s room stall. The most elaborate plan I’ve heard included bringing your own “out of order” sign, sitting on top of the tank so that your legs aren’t spotted below that stall, and using a pillow for comfort. Tap your feet along with the music to keep up circulation and stave off leg atrophy. Remember to bring along a book or a craft, or you can spend your time contemplating the stickers that wallpaper the stall and the toilet. (Who was brave enough to place their band’s sticker inside of the toilet bowl?) Look up all the song lyrics on your phone and try to get anonymous people to sing a duet with you while peeing.
I wrote a piece for last years Year End Mania about non-traditional music venues and unfortunately didn’t mention house shows, which are a big part of the growing musical community in Philadelphia. The best seat in the house is usually right outside of the house. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been to sweaty basement shows where every amp is turned up to 11 and find myself desperately searching for earplugs. The solution, head outside, situate yourself upwind from the smokers for some fresh air, and enjoy the houses natural sound absorption. Along with the ability to roam the open spaces while still being within earshot, the backyard and porch are often where pets like to hang out. They never ask questions or dominate conversations. Introverts love pets! And porch-swings!
Just stay in bed! What does ‘live’ even mean anymore when live-streams exist? Cell phone videographers are front and center at every show streaming vertical video for their introverted friends back home. Technology puts you right in the action from multiple angles via strangers on the internet. Even the professional photographers can get their work online within minutes with their fancy wifi enabled DSLR camera. Hashtags aggregate all the information for you. You just have to learn how to find it. Since most of your friends are already at the show, start with their stories and follow all the relevant tags. It’s tedious work, so snack breaks are a must. Put on your comfy socks and your sweatpants and walk to the fridge. Heat up some leftovers and get back to enjoying the show at your leisure. You can essentially track the artist’s entire tour, every show, every outfit, and every selfie at the merch table. No need to feel left out. Buy some merch from the artist website, watch some photoshop tutorials on youtube, and by the time your shirt arrives you’ll be able to photoshop yourself into all of the tour photos!
Honorable Mention Haiku
Safe from the moshing
All you need is a camera
…and a photo pass
Shots……. Everybody’s talking..
I guess I’ll move up
This one makes me think
of phantom of the opera
I’ve never seen it
Learn how to E.Q.
and how to combat feedback
Don’t take no feedback