Be warned, this is a rant. Ever since I heard that Foo Fighters are playing at Metricon Stadium, I’ve been in rant mode because let’s face it, stadium shows suck. I’ll admit that apart from festivals, I’ve only been to a couple of stadium shows, mostly because I avoid them like the plague.
I saw Pearl Jam play at QSAC in 2009 to a 35,000+ strong crowd and while the band did an amazing job, the gig was disappointing. Firstly, the sound was piss poor. Outdoor concerts never sound as good as indoor gigs, but the sound that night was particularly bad. Secondly, we made the mistake of getting seating tickets and although our seats were some of the best in the house, they were still about 5 kilometres from the band. “Man, what are those ants doing on stage? Oh, wait…that’s Pearl Jam.”
I also saw Green Day play at the SCG in 2005 which was better than Pearl Jam, but only because I managed to get tickets in the front mosh pit, closest to the stage.
I can see why bands do it. It’s a spectacle, it’s a way to sell more tickets and make more money, it’s a sign that they’ve ‘made it’ as a band. But seriously, think of the fans. Think of the lack of intimacy, the crap sound quality and the fact that most people there can’t see a damn thing.
I think these shows are so alienating and put an even bigger gap between the band and the audience. It’s hard to feel like you’re part of something when you’re surrounded by 40,000 other people and the band is 5 kilometres away. Bands talk a lot about trying to connect with the audience at a show, but it’s almost impossible to do that at a venue which holds 40,000, 60,000 or even 80,000 people.
And honestly, if you lucked out and got seriously crap tickets to a stadium gig, you may as well just stay at home. You’re not going to see anything, the sound quality will be awful and you just wasted $100.
Stadium shows only work is you’re in the first 40 rows from the stage…or you watch them on DVD. And hey, stadium shows make great concert movies.
Here are some visual examples of why stadium gigs and large outdoor concerts are ridiculous. Take a moment to look where the stage is and how far back the audience spreads. Seriously. The people at the very back would see zip!