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OPINION: Why Do They Throw Beer Cans?
by Rachel Taylor
Opinion(Oct 2007) Not too long ago, I found myself bearing witness to a scene that, though increasingly rare in my experience, has always befuddled me. Before I reveal the source of my continued confusion, allow me to paint a picture.

Large-scale, multi-artist, outdoor event. Thousands of bodies staking claim to almost any piece of friendly grass. They lay crashed out on the ground, sitting huddled around small fire pits, and standing in a growing crowd near the stage. As the evening draws closer to the headlining act, an opening performer and his band take the stage. He and his band begin to play and the crowd moves closer. It thickens, noticeably interested. They move as a collective unit. They sing, they groove,…

They begin to throw beer cans.

Yeah, that’s the part I don’t get. It’s an act that my crowd tends to refer to as alcohol abuse.

This is where my limited understanding of the practice kicks in. There was no doubt that the crowd liked the act. They cheered, they sang along, from all appearances they came alive following a rather dull performance by another opening act.  So what struck me as odd was that it appeared that the projectiles were being launched in appreciation. The band continued to jam, making no request or even any real effort to avoid the 12 oz. missiles being guided their way. Instead, they played on, feeding off the energy and by sheer fate, managed to avoid being hit.

Lucky for the artist and his band. Lucky for the crowd, but this is not always the case. I can think of a recently released live recording where the frontman can be heard calling out an overindulged fan who decided to manifest his excitement in the aforementioned manner. Frontman didn’t seem to be too pleased when a sideman was struck. Realistically, the artist is raised above the crowd on the stage and has glaring lights shining with a blinding result in his eyes. Vision is impaired. The artist also has an instrument in his hands that only further reduces reaction time should a can happen to come sailing at him from somewhere behind the lights. 

And for what? After being hit in the head, he’s supposed to know that it is really to be considered a gift from a truly appreciative fan?

Maybe I’m too old. Maybe I myself had not had enough adult beverages that night to understand such a reaction.  Whatever the reason, even now I have the feeling that were I the onstage target, beloved or otherwise, I’d be highly tempted to return the gesture. Maybe that’s just me.

I have noticed that when a venue charges upwards of $3 for a beer, one’s grip remains quite a bit firmer.  Ah, but in a BYOB situation where the mathematics break it all down to roughly 75 cents per dual-purpose projectile, I guess anything goes. Including rational thought.

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