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May 2nd, 2008
The other day I took a look at my positively RAMMED spring/summer concert calendar and my left nostril promptly flared to the size of a grapefruit. Concert season is a time for excitement, but at the same time it’s a time for frustration and cynicism. These days you have to brace yourself for an experience easily ruined by the fans themselves, who (from what I’ve seen) have become a rude and unruly lot entirely unaware of everyone else’s personal space. I now present you with ten rules that people blatantly disobey, or, ways that you’re ruining it for everyone else.
1. Recording the show or incessantly taking photos with your cell phone. I honestly don’t know why people do this. The photo quality of the majority of cell phones is terrible. I certainly didn’t pay $30-100 for my ticket just to watch it through a 3×2 inch screen with your extended arm as an obstruction, why did you? Are you honestly ever going to look at those photos again? And when you do, will you even be able to recognize the tiny speck that’s centre stage as Alex Turner of Arctic Monkeys? Will you be able to tell you’re at a Spice Girls reunion concert instead of the New Kids On the Block reunion concert? No. Ditto for people who record entire songs on a shitty camera for future uploading to YouTube. 90% of these videos are unwatchable. Check out this “sweet” four-and-a-half minute footage from a recent Yelle show that someone shot and uploaded for our viewing pleasure. In case you couldn’t make it out, the song Yelle’s performing in the clip is “Je Veux Te Voir”.
2. Waiting until the show has started to secure your spot in the front row. People line up outside general admission venues hours, sometimes even DAYS, before the show in order to snag that prime spot from which to enjoy a show that they’ve likely been waiting to see for much longer than you. In the Land of the Fair, It’s called waiting your f**king turn. So when one is rammed at the front, standing shoulder to shoulder with thousands of sweaty mouth breathers is uncomfortable enough without your conga line of friends charging through the crowd claiming, “Oh, my friend’s up there!”. It’s like when you’re late for a movie and making a huge production of finding a seat after the lights have gone down. It’s rude. And no, if you’ve scored a front row spot, you cannot ever leave to use the washroom or get a drink. You’ve sealed your fate – you’ll never make your way back.
“Hey! Can you hear this? It’s Pearl Jam. This is what you’re missing. Wish you were here. OMG do you hear? They’re playing Even Flow. Listen!!” *puts phone up to speaker*
3. Talking throughout the entire show. Speaking of rude: No one’s saying you have to stand there like a wax statue with your arms folded, intently concentrating on every lyric and chord. But we could do without the people who feel the need to constantly natter to their friends throughout the show, especially at smaller shows where the band can HEAR you not paying attention. There have even been shows where the band stopped playing to ask people to STFU. Embarrraaaaaassssing! It’s like people who talk in class…why are you even there? Go stand at the back near the bar if you want to chat.
4. Being over 6’4 and choosing to stand in front of the shortest person in the crowd. You can’t fault people for being tall (or too short), but why does the tallest person usually have a complete disregard for where they’re standing? If you see a 5’0 tall girl, don’t stand directly in front of her. Maybe kneel? Maybe lop off your legs at the shins? Or better yet, maybe just stand behind her? The same goes for girls who insist on sitting on their boyfriends’ shoulders for the duration of the show. The band might appreciate it when you show them your boobies, but the entire audience behind you will just think you’re a boob. Thanks for blocking my view, dink.
5. Continually crowd surfing or slam dancing even though it’s not that kind of show. You can only be dropped straight to the ground and then hoisted back up so many times by your fellow concert-goers before it gets exhausting for everyone involved. Some people are actually trying to enjoy themselves and not worry about getting an errant boot or elbow to the head while trying to gently guide you towards safety. Save it for Lollapalooza or some other monster UK festival. Ditto to people who mosh and slamdance at shows like Crystal Castles or Klaxons. Don’t make me show you the black eye I got at a seemingly “tame” Malajube show.
6. Being an unruly lout. Everyone knows all about the one dude who stands at the back of the venue and yells “WOOO! YES!!!” during the band’s between-song banter and at the start of every song, regardless of whether he can recognize it. What’s worse is when that dude brings along all of his rabblerousing buddies, and they get to the venue early to get their drink on. By the time the show starts they’re slurring their words and sloshing their drinks, bumping into people and stomping on toes. Get a hold of yourselves, people! Try to make it to the encore without blacking out, please.
7. Spastic dancing and general disregard for personal space. We know you wanna dance. And we WANT you to dance and have a good time. But take a moment to look around and size up the amount of space you have to work with and adjust your movement accordingly. If it’s Daft Punk and everyone’s going ballastic, go ahead and join in. If the crowd’s tightly packed and there’s no room to dance, bop along, maybe try to start a mini-dance party, but now’s not the time to start flipping your hair like a stripper, breakdancing or practising the Soulja Boy dance.
8. Holding up a sign or flag for the duration of the show. This practice is especially popular at any British indie band show. Suddenly everyone’s a raving fan of the Union Jack and has brought along a humongous silk flag to prove it. Not only that, but they want to make sure the band is aware of their nationalism. Then you have the people who write deeply personal messages for the band on bristolboard and hold it up in the hopes that the guitarist will fall in love with them. Nope – the only thing you’ll feel from behind is hate.
9. Standing at a seated venue. Look, I go to a lot of shows. Almost all of them are general admission/standing. I look forward to sitting at the 10% of venues that have seats. So for the love of god, please don’t LEAP out of your seat the moment the band hits the stage and remain standing for the entire set. Stand for a couple of songs and then sit back down. The domino effect is really strong on this one – it’s kind of hard to convince an entire audience to sit down, and once one row is up, others are sure to follow, meaning anyone who’s too tired or short to see anything while standing won’t get to see anything if they stay in their seats.
10. Waiting till the band plays their radio hit and then leaving . A lot of times the band comes to town early in their career and they already know that you only came to see them for one song. But humour them and feign some interest in the rest of their material – it’s all near and dear to them; it just happens that one of their songs is being pimped out by their label or the local radio station. Several tours later, they’re probably already sick of playing it anyway, and want you to latch onto something new. If they haven’t saved it for the encore, after which there would be a natural exit break, don’t start a mass exodus out of the venue. The other songs might crash and burn, but emergency exits should only be used in case of actual fire.
Anything else that’s ruining your live show experience that I’ve missed here?
Photograph Courtesy Getty ImagesTweet