My First Surf
By Shane Collins
One of the many things I miss about live shows is the thrill of surfing a crowd.
Yes. I’m one of those guys. I’m that scoundrel out there in the audience, crawling on top of everyone, surfing a sea of hands.
I grew up in the 90’s and back then, as a pre-teenage music addict, I spent a lot of time watching Much Music and, in those days, music videos were a relatively new thing.
A cultural phenomenon was taking place and, for me, with love for so many types of music, the Grunge scene really caught my attention.
By the time I attended my first highschool dance in the 8th grade, bands like Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Beastie Boys, Tool, Soundgarden, Alice and Chains and many more were making their way onto the television screens up here in Canada. When I saw Pearl Jam’s video for “Even Flow,” I became OBSESSED with the idea of jumping into the crowd like Eddie Vedder.
However, I was just a kid who had never been to a live concert. What would I know about such fun? It wouldn’t be another 6 years until I really got my chance to surf a crowd.
Eddie’s infamous jump into a crowd of waiting hands at 4:00
Face to Face and Buck O Nine were here in Kelowna, playing at a small community hall. The crowd was packed in tight. There was hardly enough room to move your arms. There was no security. There were no rules. I can recall a size 14 sole of a Doc Martins boot imprinting itself on my forehead as a friend of mine jumped into the crowd and onto me. I saw stars. I wanted to try so I made my way onto stage… just as the song ended.
The entire audience was looking at me. The lead singer of Buck O Nine walked over and with his arm around my shoulder said, “Oh we got you! So, what’s your name?”
He put the microphone up to me. “Shane.” I said, timidly.
“What are you going to do here, Shane?”
Again, shy as a mouse caught in the breadbox I said, “I’d like to jump off the stage.”
“Hear that folks?” the singer announced. “Shane here wants to jump off the stage. Should we let him do that?”
The crowd cheers, “YEAH!”
“Are you going to catch him?”
“Let’s see how long you can keep Shane up for,” and with that, I stepped back.
“ONE, TWO, THREE!”
The band began to play a new song and I ran hard as I could and I leapt into the crowd. I fell into the mass of hands and they held me up and just like Eddie Vedder, in what’s still one of my favourite videos today.
I let the people take me one direction, then another. I found a ‘pit-fall’ – a hole that opens up in a crowd – but the people wouldn’t let me fall to the floor. No, they held me fast, brought me back up, and for nearly three minutes I bounced around that crowd until the song was over.
It was a ride I’ll simply never forget and I still surf crowds to this day, nearly 20 years later.
Now that COVID is loosening its grip on our live entertainment, I sense that crowds and us surfers will be back at it again soon. Keep your eyes peeled for my tips for surfing. If you haven’t been surfing at a show, I’ll have you surfing like a pro.
Stay safe and stay tuned for more.