I love Azealia Bank‘s video clips and I’m intrigued by her and the image she has created. She’s a cool, fashionable, tough young woman who isn’t afraid to talk about taboo subjects, and she has some unique insights into society and culture.
So of course I’m disappointed when I go to see her for a second time (the first being Splendour in the Grass 2012) and both times, she storms off stage, cutting her set short because something’s not quite right on stage. This time at Listen Out in Melbourne, it came down to a single tossed beer can.
No-one can argue with her statement of ‘feeling unsafe’ at having a beer can thrown in her direction. She definitely shouldn’t have to perform with projectiles being hurled at her.
But I can’t help feel a bit let down at the juxtaposition between the tough rapper in the video clips, and the chick who lets one beer can hurled by some drunk dickhead immediately ruin the show for 1000s of fans. This is probably the same idiot who pisses on the fence despite the availability of porta-urinals and it’s a shame she let this one guy (or perhaps, girl) get the better of her.
I would like to think that the can-tosser intended no real or further harm, but only wanted a reaction.
So instead of that one guy being ejected from the festival, and the rest of us going on to enjoy the show, the opposite transpired: Azealia ejected herself from the festival, the can-tosser wins, and the fans loose out.
Performers can never control what other people do, but they can control how they react to it.
This is not the first can ever thrown. As I walked home after the festival I got thinking about the times I’ve seen other artists deal with projectiles. I particularly remember one Big Day Out performance in which I witnessed Craig Nicholls, lead singer of The Vines, cop a water bottle in the face mid-set, which sent him writhing in an exaggerated manner on the stage floor as he kept singing. Not that this was a good thing to have happen, but Nicholls’ theatrical over-reaction has stuck with me for years, and I was impressed that he kept going.
Then, last night, when I got home and turned on Music Max, I happened across a somewhat different way of dealing with a ‘dangerous’ crowd situation. It’s 1981, and the Rolling Stones are half way into their live rendition of ‘Satisfaction’ when a crazed fan rushes the stage heading directly for Keith Richards.
The way Keith handles it is text-book badass. He sees the fan coming, takes off his guitar mid-strum, and before the fan even reaches him, he’s lined up the fan like a pitched baseball, swings, wrestles with the fan for a short time, then re-straps his guitar and rocks on. Not bad for a saggy old guy. Don’t mess with Keith.
The alternative reaction, I suppose would be to throw down the guitar and stop the show. Keith’s safety and those of his fellow Stones were certainly at risk! So that reaction would be warranted.
Of these different scenarios, neither is right or wrong, and I don’t want to see anyone get hurt. But as a fan, I know which one I appreciate more, and which one I’d rather book at the next festival.
Here is the incident from Azealia’s 19 second performance on Saturday:
Now check out the clip of Keith Richards from 1981: