published Friday, June 18th, 2010

Courter: Fighting for a good seat not worth it

When you go to a concert, are you the type who likes to get there late and elbow your way to the front, or are you a camper, arriving early to get a good seat?

Maybe you prefer to hang around the back or the sides, with a little elbow room. Are you a gate crasher, or one of those people who likes to talk your way backstage?

I confess to being a fairly easy-to-please type who likes to get there whenever, find a comfortable place and hang out. I have never been one to constantly try to find a better seat. The few times I have, I have found myself looking over my shoulder for an usher who must surely be coming to make me move.

I'm also not overly impressed with being backstage. I've been there many times, and what I usually find are roadies, wannabes, poseurs, label people and media types (yuk). The last time I really tried to get backstage turned into one of my more embarrassing and more memorable concert experiences.

While in college, I used my press credentials to get backstage for a Run DMC show at the arena. I wanted a picture with the group and did get one with Darryl McDaniels. He's the DMC in the trio. I also got one with a roadie, who I thought was Jam Master Jay. The dude was very gracious and posed for several shots. He then went up on stage and moved some mike stands around, and I slinked back to my seat where I belonged.

Saturday night, I stood in line with a couple dozen photographers waiting to be escorted to the photo pit area to shoot Stevie Wonder's concert at Bonnaroo (you can see the pics at fyi.timesfreepress.com/bonnaroo).

I have to admit that this was a pretty good spot to watch a show, even if we were only got 60 seconds to shoot the legendary artist.

As we filed through the gate, the PR rep stopped a guy in front of me and said, "You're gonna have to leave." This young guy smiled, turned and walked away. He didn't even have a camera. It was kind of funny, and I admired his chutzpah.

Years ago, Simon and Garfunkel played at Grant Field in Atlanta. People got there early and put blankets down, claiming their spots. My friends and I got there about an hour before the show, and they insisted we work our way toward the front. We found a four-inch wide by five-foot long strip of turf between some blankets and stood.

For an hour we listened to the campers talk about how rude we were. I hated it. My friends could not have cared less. It was a pretty good seat, but I never got over feeling uncomfortable.

about Barry Courter...

Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...

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