Concert Etiquette: The Dos and Don'ts of Seeing Your Favorite Band
Hi, there! You may not recognize me, but I'm the girl from the concert the other night. You know, the one you shoved out of the way to get to the front. The one you spilled your drink on. The one who gave you the evil eye as you talked the whole time (even during the quiet songs). Does that ring a bell? I hope so!
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the show, but I'm not sure you remember, it because you were so obviously wasted, dancing up a storm and bumping into everyone around you. I'm sure your night was great, but I wanted to let you know that the people around you didn't think your singing at the top of your lungs was quite as amazing as you did. So since you may not have noticed me or the other people around you seething at your behavior, I'm going to do you a solid and give you some pointers for the next time you go to a show. After all, I'd hate to see you get punched in the face.
Actually, come to think of it, I wouldn't mind that at all, since I'm still trying to get your Jack and Coke out of my latest Zappos purchase. Still, let's try to have cooler heads prevail.
As the new year inches ever closer, it's time to look back on the past 12 months, atone for our blunders and bad behavior, and think about what we can do in the next 12 to be better people, help the world around us, and sooth the soul of our fellow man. Because this is the music section of New Times, our suggestions for New Year's resolutions are kind of limited to, ummm, music. Don't worry, there's plenty of room to improve in every area of one's life, so as a service to our readers, we're providing a list of concert-going behavior we should all strive to avoid in order to become a kinder, gentler audience in 2011. Think of it as Emily Post's rules of etiquette for rock shows and consider it an early Christmas present from the folks who go to concerts for a living.
1. If you have tickets waiting for you at will call, have your ID out when you get to the window. Also, hang up the phone and put out your cigarette. The poor sap working in that smelly little ticket booth shouldn't have to wait for you to finish up your conversation (or smoke) before helping you. They get paid to get you your tickets, so help them do their job more efficiently. Same thing goes for getting carded for wristbands or stamps at the door — just have your ID out and ready to go so the line can move more quickly. Remember, people like you are the reason you're bitching about the wait.
2. If you're tall, please don't step in front of someone shorter than you. This one is controversial, I know, because it'd be weird to organize everyone in the room by height before the show starts. Still, the general rule is that if you were there first, you can stand where you want, because anyone who decides to stand behind you will have made the conscious choice to do so. If you're late to the party, try to stay behind anyone shorter than you, because denying someone the ability to see the stage is like telling a little kid there's no Santa Claus.
3. If you get to the show late, suck it up and stand where you can. It is beyond rude to show up in the middle of the second song and push to the front, especially as a group. It is disrespectful of the people who took the time out of their day to get there early so they could get a place close to the stage. If you were a big enough fan, you should have managed your time better.
4. It's fine to dance at shows so long as you're not invading other people's space. I completely respect when people get into the music and want to move to the beat. However, if you are bumping into other people, particularly those who don't feel the need to bust a move, they're forced to move out of the way — sometimes sacrificing their perfect view of the stage — or risk getting their feet stomped on. I know you're trying to have a good time, but nobody wants to limp to the parking lot at the end of the night because of a smashed toe. Oh, and if you plan on dancing, make sure you're freshly showered. Even the greatest dance moves in the world won't make up for your awful body odor.
5. Stop auditioning for Idol. While we're on the topic of getting into the music, we can't ignore singing along. There are different perspectives on this, but all I can write is my own. If it's a raucous show where everyone knows the words to all the songs and is singing along, join in, by all means. If it is a quiet song or set, singing quietly to yourself or just mouthing the words might be a better option. You're not the one who's famous, and I'm willing to bet that you can't pull off the vocals the same way the person onstage can. You came to see the band, so let it do its job. And maybe save the Chris Isaak-esque high notes for your car or shower, where no one else can hear you.
6. Don't shove. We weren't raised in a cattle barn, and we all have parents who taught us that pushing is wrong. If you need to get by, it is perfectly acceptable to lightly touch someone's shoulder, arm, or back to let them know you're there, and most decent people will move aside to let you get where you need to be. Don't act like a bull in a china shop, ramming through every human barricade between you and your destination. Furthermore, if you do have to make someone move out of the way, be kind and apologize for it. Your mother would be proud of you for it.
7. If you have a full drink in your hand, hold it steady. This is Phoenix — we wear flip-flops here. Not only might your vodka and cranberry stain our footwear, it makes us stand in a cold, wet, sticky mess for the rest of the show when you spill your drink. Accidents happen, of course, but considering that drink probably set you back at least seven or eight bucks, it's in both of our best interests that you try to keep a tight grip. Speaking of which . . .
8. Don't get blistering drunk. Period. It's fun to let loose and have a few drinks when you're watching a band you like, but when you're trashed, it's a distraction for others. It can also kill your plans to actually get into the show. At one October show, I witnessed a man trying to lock his bike up to a tree in front of the theater. The security guard told him to use the bike racks instead, but the guy had knocked more than a few back and declined, slurring. It was at this point that the security guard refused to let the guy into the show because he was already too intoxicated and that was a liability. No matter how much he incoherently explained, bargained, and pleaded, he was denied entry. The moral? Watch your alcohol intake.
9. Put the phone away. You came to see the show, so how can you expect to get the full experience if you're tweeting about how dreamy the boys from Vampire Weekend are the whole time? Take a picture or two, but don't record the entire thing for posterity. When the music is going on, you don't need to take pictures of you and all your friends having a blast. You need to pay attention, because this band's not coming back for a while. Enjoy what's onstage; I promise that your Facebook friends couldn't care less about knowing the set list as it's being performed.
10. Stop talking. This is my biggest pet peeve. I have no problem with saying something quickly between songs, or the casual comment during a song about the music being played at the time, but I don't want to have my experience at Fleet Foxes or even Matt and Kim ruined (both actual examples) because you decided that the middle of a concert is the perfect time for you to talk about your sister's new boyfriend or your job. This is not Mystery Science Concert 3000; we don't need your ongoing commentary. You may have paid to see the show, but so did everyone around you, and your money didn't buy you asshole privileges. So, for the love of God, shut your mouth. If you want to talk with your friends, stand in the back, go to the lobby (if there is one), or go outside. Better yet, save your money on the concert altogether and buy the album, play it at your house, invite your friends over, and talk to your heart's content. Nothing ruins a perfectly good song like a girl yelling in the middle of it about how far away she had to park her car. Guess what, sweetheart? Nobody gives a fuck where you parked.
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