Concerts used to be fun, a generally run-of-the-mill experience. Sometimes, if you were lucky, you’d get to witness a crazy moment or surprise guest at a show, document it on your phone, maybe relay it as an interesting story to your friends afterwards. But now, as we’ve entered the age of constant concert documentation, things have gotten a little weirder — a lot more off the rails. It seems that noteworthy events are happening at concerts nearly every day and, in response to that, crowds have gotten a little rowdier. Case in point: Pink’s most recent live shows, which have spurred headlines about fans passing the singer their dead mom’s ashes and, most recently, a wheel of cheese.
It started like this: On Saturday, June 24, Pink performed at London’s Hyde Park for the British Summer Time festival. In the middle of her performance of “Just Like A Pill,” a fan from the crowd threw a bag filled with something unidentifiable onto the stage. In concert footage taken by fans, Pink walks up to the bag filled with white powder, picks it up, and without missing a beat in her lyrics, asks, “Is this your mom?” Though we can’t hear the answer back — we’re assuming the fan answered in affirmation of some sort — Pink gingerly places the bag back on the floor behind some speakers, saying, “I don’t know how to feel about this,” with a genuinely bewildered look on her face.
Naturally, the video of this interaction spread like wildfire. By Tuesday afternoon, it was a trending topic covered by Rolling Stone, CNN, and other news outlets. But that wasn’t the end of it. On Tuesday evening, even more footage from that same show surfaced online, showing a different fan passing along a huge wheel of Brie cheese to the singer at the end of her performance of “F*ckin Perfect.” Pink offered up another hilarious reaction. In fan-captured videos, as she’s seen clutching the torso-sized wheel of cheese, her face is contorted into another look of absolute confusion. All of the above has led the entire internet to wonder: What the hell is happening at Pink’s tour?
Per her fans, there are reasonable explanations behind these actions — at least for the cheese. (The jury is still out on whether the mom’s ashes were real, why they were thrown on stage, and if the original owner got her mom back at the end.) Apparently, the “So What” singer is a major cheese lover, to the point where fans gifting her cheese has become a thing. While I couldn’t find any evidence of Pink saying this on the record, I did find a video from a past 2019 Pink concert in Hamburg, Germany, in which another fan hoists an even larger wheel of cheese — this one looks like a Parmigiano Reggiano wheel — to the foot of the stage. In the clip, it is cinematically drizzling as Pink walks off the stage and over to the fan to take the cheese, saying, “Shut up. Sir, I’m going to kiss you on the mouth,” before proceeding to do just that (kiss him on the mouth). So yes, it does seem that cheese giving and receiving is actually customary at Pink shows, as weird as it may be.
Despite the online uproar, Pink does appear to be unfazed by these incidents. Online, following said chaotic show at Hyde Park, Pink thanked her fans for another incredible night, with no warnings or comments about throwing dead mother’s ashes or preternaturally large wheels of fine cheese. “I don’t even know what to say other than I am humbled and grateful,” she tweeted. “I love doing this with all of you. It is my life and my love and I am grateful beyond belief.”
It’s also worth pointing out that Pink’s shows are generally out-there and theatrical to begin with. Even at 43, the singer is still catapulting across her sold-out stadiums aerialist-style, spinning and hurtling through the air in unbelievable fashion. (Gen Z who consider her aerial tricks to be “weird” definitely didn’t see her 2010 Grammys performance when she spun over a ballroom full of A-listers for “Glitter In The Air,” which has since gone down in history.)
Still, the internet’s overblown reactions to the cheese and ashes (although, that is justifiable and is genuinely weird) do feel like rightful responses to living in a time when concerts suddenly feel like unpredictable and unstable spaces where anything and everything can happen. Not long ago, Bebe Rexha was hit in the face by a flying cell phone (and required stitches); the very next night, an Ava Max “fan” wove through security and physically slapped the pop star in the face on stage. And what’s next? In a few years we’ll have come full circle and tomatoes will be getting thrown at people again (although, if the choice was between cellphones and tomatoes, I lean toward the latter).
Maybe it’s just a case of recency bias; all of these events did happen within the span of a few weeks. And throwing things — bras, underwear, sex toys, water bottles, etc. — at singers on stage, after all, isn’t anything new. But it does feel like there is bad behavior brewing on the side of fans; the guy who threw the phone at Rexha said he did it because “it would be funny” — an incredible, unbelievable reason (derogatory). And, because he probably knew it would inevitably be recorded and broadcast online for everyone to see, and he would automatically get a worldwide platform.
Has the introduction of the cellphone — and the rabidness around being the first to record, upload, and share concert footage — pushed fans into embracing more destabilizing, sensational behavior? To run on stage and get charged for assault? To throw your parent’s ashes on stage for likes and a few seconds of (anonymous) fame? Things, I guess, aren’t that unhinged yet — but it does all makes me wonder where live shows and audience etiquette go from here.