Hugh McCafferty on the ultimate gig buzz-killer: the shit couple
Going to gigs is deadly. There are few other socially acceptable situations in which you can jump around screaming (very often inaccurate) lyrics back at a live band playing through punishingly loud speakers, whilst basking in the sweaty glow of a few hundred/thousand other human beings. Gigs provide an opportunity to have a laugh with your mates or, indeed, total randomers without giving a shit about whether or not you look like a dick, because, well, everyone does. And when the houselights go up, everyone will go home/to the bar/off to see another band, tired, sweaty and satisfied.
Or at least that’s how things should be. The reality is there’ll always be some goon at a live show just waiting to wreck the buzz for those unfortunate enough to be standing nearby. If it isn’t the fucker with an enormous back-pack, who insists on hitting you in the face every two seconds, it’s the sweaty man who decides to take off his shirt and throw himself around like a lubed-up, hairy-shouldered seal.
The ultimate scourge of a gig, however, is the couple. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about all couples here – most are grand. No, I’m referring to a very specific type – namely the kind that comes with an over-protective boyfriend. Let’s call them the “shit couple.” You can spot them a mile-off. They’re distinguishable by a number of features, most prominantly the positioning of boyfriend’s arms around girlfriend from behind so as to prevent any ne’er-do-well from (gasp) brushing up against her. Other characteristics include the normally quite bored facial expressions of both parties and regular dirty looks from the male at anyone daring to have any form of fun within close proximity of the couple-unit.
In addition to physical attributes, the shit couple can also be identified by their unique vocalisations, which include “Here! Make some room for the lady,” “Do you mind not touching my girlfriend” and, perhaps most wretchedly, “Take it easy, there’s a woman here.” Bear in mind that said calls are made only by the male part of this symbiotic unit, the female remains largely silent.
Manys a gig has been tarnished by the shit couple in my time. LCD Soundsystem’s set at Electric Picnic 2007, for example, was marred by the sound of a complaining couple at the front of the crowd, unhappy that everyone was having a bit too much of a laugh. Luckily, said couple were removed after the male component started a fight with someone beside him and security intervened. More recently, last night’s No Age/Times New Viking/Los Campesinos! triple-header in Whelan’s was rendered somewhat unpleasant by a shit couple at the front who insisted on grinding against a stage monitor for LC!’s set in its entirety.
What can be done about these Billy Bad Buzzes? Not a lot, unfortunately. In such situations, then, the only solution is avoidance and, failing that, blind vigilanteism. So, the next time you see a shit couple at a gig, give them a wide berth. That, or tell them that this isn’t a Snow Patrol concert and that they can fuck off home (unless, of course, you are at a Snow Patrol gig, in which case, you probably deserve it).