Nervously She Fumbled For The Pouch: An Important PSA

Hello friends.


I am here today to speak with you about a terrible affliction that has plagued members of the concert-going public for practically as long as there has been music. I speak, of course, of Pockets Syndrome, a malady so infernal that each show tens if not dozens of addle-headed fans of live music succumb to the effects of this horrible scourge. While perhaps not a “deadly” disease or something with long lasting outward effects, Pockets Syndrome can severely impact a person’s ability to lose themselves in the music due to the invasive symptoms that manifest once the onset of the disorder has begun. There are other residual impacts that can be psychological, spiritual, or even metaphysical in nature depending on the prevailing mindset of the afflicted both during and after the onset of the attack. Our goal here is to shine the light of awareness on Pockets Syndrome so that you can be better prepared to avoid its grasp, recognize the symptoms in members of your crew to enact early intervention protocols, and also so that we can all help to spread the message of support to those who may be susceptible to this dreaded condition.


Pockets Syndrome, or “profunda loculos inordinatio” as it is known in certain research circles, is a mainly mental affectation where the sufferer perceives that items placed in pockets (or other holding devices on or near the person’s body) during a concert — typically a rock and roll concert that leans more towards the open jamming, psychedelic sort — can appear, disappear, and move between various catchments. Symptoms may include but are not limited to:  stress, anxiety, confusion, wonderment, thirst/dry mouth, loss of marbles, disconnection with the music being performed, disbelief, the condition known as ‘hot dog fingers’, shock, sadness, anger, befuddlement, fidgeting, and more. Side effects include: inability to communicate with others, lost sense of time and place, total lack of awareness for surroundings, lack of available funds, at a loss for words when buddy asks “hey, man, where’s the weed?”, incapable of helping out the dude who needs a light, potentially mentally scarring deep dives into introspective questions about the nature of objective existence, and being the temporary laughing stock of your friends and section mates.


It should be noted that Pockets Syndrome should not be confused with the similarly named Pocket Syndrome (“Piriformis Syndrome” — sciatic pain caused by having a ‘Costanza’ sized wallet in your back pocket all day) or Phantom Pocket Vibration Syndrome (that feeling that your phone is buzzing away in your pocket even when it is not even in your pocket. maybe put your phone down for once?). While both of these disorders can be related to Pockets Syndrome and often occur simultaneous with it no direct link between these has yet been found. However, if you find that you are experiencing symptoms consistent with either of these debilities it is highly recommended that you check with your doctor, shaman, or at least consult reference materials a bit more real than this.


Pockets Syndrome most commonly impacts individuals who are not necessarily in what medical doctor types might call a “sober state” though there have been reported cases of individuals who are so overcome by the music as to exhibit the tell tale signs. Generally, it manifests once the lights go down and the music is getting everyone moving. The subject decides he or she (while predominantly a disorder associated with males there are numerous case studies of females and persons of other gender types who have been inflicted) has something desirable in his or her pocket(s) and therefore decides to take that item out of said pocket(s). However, upon placing hand in pocket(s) to grab the item the subject is unable to locate it, resulting in some if not all of the symptoms and side effects listed above. In some cases these symptoms can be further exacerbated by the subject knowing that the item is in a particular pocket only to locate it in a different pocket OR checking all pockets without successfully obtaining the item and then rechecking pocket(s) and having the item be easily accessed where the subject thought it was in the first place.


Now, you may be reading this and thinking to yourself that you would never allow yourself to get to the point of lysergic susceptibility that often precedes the onset of Pockets Syndrome. And I was once in your shoes as I thought — nay knew — that it could never happen to me. But it can. And I am here today speaking to you only by the grace of the house lights coming back up at the end of each set and my hands and mind finally working together with my eyes to allow me to find those lost items that had disappeared into my infernal pockets. But even having experienced this malady several times in the past does not keep me from being another potential victim at my next show.


Perhaps you will be able to avoid Pockets Syndrome by wearing clothing that requires another person to tote your belongings for the evening, like these classy Dickies pants or these lovely ladies’ jeans in which case I feel bad for whoever you get haul your crap because no one should have to be your sherpa during jam time. Or maybe you stay healthy by removing the influences that contribute to it by not bringing in anything with you to the show because you really don’t need to have anything with you inside the venue to which I would respond you are either quite fastidious, well disciplined, or just lying to yourself. This person is the type who will ask friends for whatever it is they “forgot” to bring but you aren’t fooling anyone, mister. We pocketed people are on to your shenanigans. The reality is that all of us can contract Pockets Syndrome without warning. And with that in mind I’d like to provide some tips on how to live with Pockets Syndrome and how to identify the signs in your friends so that we can attempt to rise above this menace.


Tips For The Pockets Syndrome Sufferer

  • Before you head into the show, ask yourself the following questions:
    • Am I wearing clothing with pockets?
    • Do I have too many pockets?
    • What do I have in my pockets right now?
    • Can any of these items be left behind?
    • Are there any items that I may come across this evening that would “need” to be added to my pocket inventory and am I ready for that added baggage?
    • Is my SLF or any of my friends going to ask me to hold anything in my pockets for them and can I accommodate that without added PS stress?
  • Once in the show, do a quick pocket check to identify what you have on your person — and where. Having information on where items should be can help to minimize the lasting impact of seemingly lost items.
  • If time and mental state permits, mentally catalog where each item resides. For example, if you have a cell phone, wallet, ticket stub, lighter, some prerolls, a setlist notebook, and a pack of gum try to determine which pocket each item is in currently so that you can quickly ask answer your internal monologue with “yes! my setlist book is in the left butt cheek pocket of my jeans and shall go back there every time I intend to replace it in my pockets”
  • Whenever possible, place any items that 99% of people would consider trash into an appropriate receptacle as soon as possible, removing that item from your pocket inventory forever. This includes empty packaging for… stuff…
  • For paper money, try to return it to your wallet/money clip/stash bag rather than just cramming it into your pocket. Pocket clutter is a major contributor to Pockets Syndrome onset and crumpled money is one of the most common instigators in this regard.
  • If you start to feel anxious or at all concerned that an item you know you had with you via your preshow inventory is now not present, stop and take a deep breath. Rather than dig your giant meaty hand into that small pocket and root around to try to feel it remove all of the pocket’s contents into your hand (if possible, I have no idea how big your hands and pockets are, man) and visually confirm that the item is no longer there. Repeat as needed for all pockets until the item is located.
  • In the event that searching all pockets thoroughly still does not produce the item, do a scan of the floor, seats, and other areas around you if possible. If you have a coat, well, now you have even more pockets to search, buddy. You should have thought of that before you went with the whole need-to-stay-warm plan of attack for this night.
  • Assuming the item still eludes you, quiz your friends to make sure they didn’t receive it from you at some point. This is most commonly related to lighters, packs of smokes, “stuff”, and other stuff. NOTE: unless it is an emergency (and I mean a real emergency, not some tripper nonsense) avoid having such conversations during jams at all costs so as to not impact the enjoyment of said music by your friends and neighbors.
  • Still can’t find it? Fuck it, man, just close your eyes and get back to dancing. It’ll all work itself out post show during the time when you and your friends want to sit and chill in the seats but the venue staff is really trying to get you to leave because it is now close to midnight and their shift captain told them they aren’t getting any overtime so clear those damned hippies outta here like right now. Be respectful and only brush them off like once or twice because they have families too, spunion.


How To Spot Pockets Syndrome And Assist Your Friends

  • Has your friend taken drugs? Like, psychedelic drugs? If so, your friend may be at risk. Note: if you or your friend has rainbows spouting forth from their forehead, you can assume that Pockets Syndrome is a definite risk to begin at any time.
  • Is your friend in control of any items that you may want to have access to throughout the show? If so, you may put your friend at risk for onset symptoms by asking for such items.
  • Does your friend like to smoke/drink/eat/write down setlists at shows? These are inherently risky behaviors that could beget Pockets Syndrome.
  • In the middle of a particularly heavy bit of jamming, while you are rocking the fuck out take a look at your friend. Is he/she getting down as hard as you are or are they patting pockets, rooting around wrist-deep in every fold of fabric of their outfit, and possibly holding a lighter or cell phone down near the floor? If so, your friend is experiencing Pockets Syndrome.

But you can help.

  • If you and/or your friends partake in mind-expanding journeys, have a frank discussion about the dangers of in show pocket use before you go.
  • Know you and your friends’ pocket choices. The well informed comment in the ear of a Pocket Syndrome sufferer can guide them out of the fit and back to the path of musical surrender.
  • Offer to hold anything your whacked out pal might need during the show including that random tallboy swilly beer you brought him at setbreak that he totally is not going to drink but has yet to understand does not need to be in his hand all show. This aha moment will be revelatory to him and humorous to you.
  • Do not contribute to the risk factors by asking a friend to carry items for you.
  • If your friend starts “losing his pockets” try to help by asking what it is they seek. Offer to hold any items removed from pockets during the search and assist in replacement activities. Please note that this intervention can and should be reserved to between songs (or at the very least during crap like Sample or some other pee break tune) and during lights up times. Talking and pocket maintenance during jams is a major show faux pas.
  • Under no circumstances should you allow a friend who is known to exhibit symptoms to wear cargo pants/shorts, old school Banana Republic photo journalist vests, or other garments known to be heavy on the pockets. Limiting the number of available receptacles to a person with a history of Pockets Syndrome can save shows.
  • If the situation warrants it and you are capable, provide the item to your friend so that they can desist from pocket searching. However, if you feel this might spark a similar pocket incident for you, shrug your shoulders and tell your friend “dude! wait for setbreak, yo.”
  • If none of these steps work and you start to understand that this will impact not just your friend’s enjoyment of the show but yours as well, tell them to forget about it; the music is more important.
  • If even after all of this symptoms persist, tell your friend you are going to try to get some more dance space and relocate until you know it to be safe to return. Screw that guy and the trip he’s on!


Please note that these tips and suggestions are by no means a complete list. There is very little reliable literature to be found on this subject and you may find you have ways of dealing with this illness in ways that are more appropriate for you and your crew. The worst thing you can do is to ignore the symptoms. As temporary as this affliction can be for some, the lasting impacts can be quite damaging. The important thing is for us to acknowledge the risk factors, identify early symptoms, and aide those we can so that they too can return to surrendering to the flow and losing themselves in the music. One day we may live in a world where Pockets Syndrome is nothing more than a laughable part of our past but for now the danger is real. Please do what you can to educate yourself and your friends to this and share what you learn with others so that our mantra of “the next show is the best show” continues to ring true… for ALL fans.