This article originally appeared on Noisey Australia
Hello out there! How are you? What are you doing? Are you sheepishly huddling over your computer at your desk avoiding tasks? Are you in bed under the covers with your phone, Netflix's Gypsy playing one episode after the other somewhere in the real-world distance? Are you on the bus? Sat next to some prick and wishing you were a millionaire who owned a very nice car? Let's be honest, it matters not what you're doing. I'm only asking because I'm not sure how to get to my point.
You see, I drank a bit of alcohol and took a couple of drugs last weekend and now my brain function is at what I will affectionately and generously call half mast. I was at Splendour in the Grass. Heard of it? The mini-Coachella of Australia that takes place in a tropical wonderland (wow, well done to God on that little part of Earth)? That's where I was. I was experiencing my first ever Splendour Bender and damn, I gotta say: it was splendid. It really was. I ate the best burger I've ever had in all my life. I saw HAIM in all their colour-coordinated, teen dream glory. I saw the sun set behind the bonny, deep-green hills of the parklands, as birds chirped among the scenery. And, last but most definitely not least, I watched a young man shotgun a can of beer and then promptly spew it up on a patch of grass between his feet.
Here's what this article is really about though: Shoeys. Yes, shoeys. The act of drinking a drink (most likely a beer) from a shoe. A phenomenon popularised by Australian gronklords Dune Rats, and unfortunately perpetuated by me in this article from last year, and of course carried into the cultural zeitgeist by every man, woman, non-man, non-woman, child, dog, Triple J presenter and Australia Day BBQ host and so on until it, somehow, appears to be "our thing" that we "love" and "care about" and must show to people.
While at Splendour this weekend, I witnessed a seemingly neverending parade of audiences begging their entertainment to do a shoey. Chanting "Shoey! Shoey! Shoey!" between songs and throwing their shoes onto stages in the hopes that someone, anyone, would recognise our biggest and most important cultural tradition and, in turn, make us feel proud and patriotic.
Here's the problem with that: Nobody knows what a fucking shoey is. Schoolboy Q does not know what a shoey is. Stormzy does not know what a shoey is. Lil Yachty does not know what a shoey is. People outside this country (who aren't Post Malone) and many of them inside of it, do not know what a shoey is. It is not as famous or as culturally significant as you might think. No matter how many times you chant it as a crowd, "Shoey" doesn't get any more obvious or decipherable. It doesn't suddenly become something a person has heard of. It doesn't click just because you've yelled it over and over for the last minute. And, even more unfortunately, it certainly doesn't all come together theoretically because four audience members choose to throw their shoes on stage during a person's set. In fact, it kind of looks like you hate the show and are being antagonistic. Even when you're an angel who's just trying to enjoy they freakin' weekend.
Watching Schoolboy Q pick up shoes from the stage and look at them, perplexed, as the crowd chanted a word he's never heard before and maybe will never hear again, was one of the most uncomfortable things I've witnessed at a festival in my life. Here was a man of merit—an accomplished, Grammy-nominated artist—playing a headline set to a crowd of thousands at a world-renowned festival. And yet it seemed that the only thing he could do for approval (who only responded to The Hits and chanted "Shoey" the rest of the time) was to pour an alcoholic drink into a shoe and to skull it. Which was a little bit sad.
I want to close saying something important: I have done a shoey. In fact I've done a number of them. The more pissed you get, the funnier a shoey becomes. It's a mystery to me, but that's the long and the short of it. I can see why some people might want to see their favourite artist do a shoey on stage, but I believe we are better than that. I think it may actually be bullying. Kind of like when you're stuck on public transport and you have to stand idly by while a bunch of kids force their puny friend into describing what a tit feels like to prove he's touched one.
So here's my pitch: Please, please, stop demanding people do shoeys while they're trying to play to you. It's not good, It's weird.
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