The live experience has always been one of the most integral parts of any genre, and for good reason. There's nothing quite like seeing your favorite artist lose their shit on stage, feeding off the energy of the crowd to the point of frenzy, soaking in every unexpected improvisation and knowing that as part of the audience, you were directly responsible for an artist's full realization of the effect of their music.
In the last several years, however, we’ve seen more than a fair share of artists pay the price for a changing demographic. Gone are the unbridled rockstar days of Axl Rose throwing shit at the crowd (unless you’re Yelawolf apparently), replaced by an ultra-litigious era where an artist can be sued for a complete accident. Just ask Tech N9ne, who years ago had to defend himself against a fan that fell and injured her head while crowd surfing, prompting the song “Riot Maker.”
A$AP Ferg himself has been through three lawsuits in the past few years for his own crowd surfing tendencies and in a new interview with Village Voice, the A$AP Mob member reveals that he’s already begun advising his Turnt & Burnt Tour mates Playboi Carti and Rob $tone to stop crowd surfing altogether.
I be telling them not to jump in the crowd! A lot of people like to sue and stuff.
It’s painful to read that quote, knowing how many artists probably feel the same way, because it signals the end of an era for live performances. But if you really think about it, it’s probably for the best.
Listen, I love a hype show as much as the next person. I’m personally of the opinion that the rowdier the show, the better, and if you leave with a bloody nose, you got your money’s worth.
That said, I have seen things go too far. I was in the crowd last year at the first annual Slumfest in Nashville when Yelawolf chucked an entire event tent into the crowd, almost seriously injuring a woman just feet away from me, and a dear friend of mine was witness to Yela’s rockstar tantrum in Eugene a couple weeks ago, with 100lb P.A.’s being hefted into the crowd.
As we recently pointed out, there’s a delicate relationship between artist and audience during a live show. On one level this is paid entertainment, a business transaction that happens to involve a performance, but at the same time it’s important to remember that a live show is just as much an expression of the art as the music, and I don’t want to live in a world where artistic expression is hampered out of fear of litigation.
At the end of the day, there needs to be a balance. As an artist, you need to be able to read the crowd and monitor your own energy during a performance. If the crowd isn’t going absolutely crazy, maybe don’t jump on them?
As concertgoers, though, there needs to be some sort of consensus. Do we, or do we not, want to experience this level of live performance at the risk of possibly getting hurt? Should you have to sign a waiver the next time you see Ferg?
There doesn’t seem to be an easy answer, so from an artist’s perspective, I can understand why they would rather remain on stage and keep their performance fee in their own pocket. I would do the same thing.
From a fan’s perspective, though, I’m certainly going to miss joining my fellow audience members in literally propping up my favorite artists as they dominate the venue.
By Brent Bradley. Follow him on Twitter.