Extraordinary Macing This past weekend, as anyone following me on various social media platforms will know, Danny and I went up to San Francisco for Fiona Apple’s concert at the Fox Theater in Oakland. We arrived during the opening act, quickly got a drink and took our seats up in the balcony. There was about a half hour before Fiona took the stage, during which the crowd downstairs did the usual thing of getting understandably excited anytime one of the theater’s “hold music” songs would end thinking she’d be coming out. So did the two guys sitting immediately behind us. I never got a good look at them, but Danny described them as “homo-thug” types.
Once the show started, their level of enthusiasm grew tenfold. Now, I’m not knocking being excited about seeing someone play live — heck, I was, too — but I paid (okay, fine, Danny did) good money to hear her sing. Not to listen to these two drunk guys warble into my ears. I was tempted to tell them as much, but in retrospect it’s a good idea that I didn’t.
One of the main differences between this concert and the one I saw in Central Park during her last tour was that the arrangements of the songs and the instrumental breaks were put into the spotlight. It was during one of these (Werewolf, probably) that the guys decided to start screaming, “Carry on, Fiona! Carry on!” It wasn’t their first outburst: they’d been yelling song requests (again, from the balcony) earlier, which was a little much given that a) she couldn’t hear them and b) if you’re a Fiona Apple fan — and given their fervor, they seemed to be dyed in the wool — you know better than to try and get her to do what you want. She’s not your monkey.
Anyways, at this point a man on the other side of the aisle from us had had enough and told them to shut up, which they did, some muffled grumbling aside. We all thought that we’d be able to enjoy the rest of the show in peace. Not quite. A couple songs later, I heard a commotion behind me and turned to see that they had decided to stand up, blocking the view of the women seated behind them. When the guys refused (saying that if they didn’t like it they could stand up themselves) and created even more of a scene, an usher came over and told them that they were going to have to leave. Guy #1 put up a little bit of a fight (not physically, thankfully), but Guy #2 sat down. The usher motioned for both of them to come with him, but only made sure Guy #1 left. Oops.
Fiona started playing I Know while I was sharing a “good riddance” smirk with the older woman seated next to me and the girls whose view had been blocked were — I’m assuming — doing the same in a more vocal fashion. About a minute into the song I noticed Guy #2 slowly walking down the aisle on the far side of my section and about a split second later heard shrieks behind me as one girl chased after him screaming, “Stop him!” I glanced back and told Danny I thought that he might have punched one of the girls in the face.
A few seconds later we figured it out when we started coughing as a cloud of pepper spray floated down, burning our noses and throats. It wasn’t fun, and our whole section emptied out. Thankfully most of us weren’t terribly affected and were able to make our way back to our seats once the air cleared. Some people didn’t come back, including the pregnant woman who’d been sitting in front of us. Fortunately, none of the hubbub disrupted the show itself and Fiona was able to wrap things up none the wiser.