We're big believers that everyone should be able to enjoy any concert in any manner they'd like. That said, there's one stipulation: Your enjoyment of a concert shouldn't directly interfere with someone else's enjoyment.
That's it. It's pretty simple, there's only one rule of this concert-going Fight Club, and it's basically "Don't be a dick." Here are 10 dick moves you should do your best to avoid doing at concerts of any kind.
10. Wave your smartphone as if it's a lighter. We get it, you look at those old photos from shows of decades past and see everyone holding up their lighters during a slower song, and you get all nostalgic for a time when you weren't even old enough to go to concerts (or maybe even alive). The fact is, the light from your iPhone/Galaxy (or whatever soon-to-be-irrelevant phone you have) just isn't the same as the tiny flames of yesteryear. If you have a lighter, wave it. If you have a smartphone, keep it in your pocket. Otherwise, you'll look ridiculous.
9. Wear the band's merch. Want to show everyone that it's your first concert and you're on the same level as a 14-year-old One Direction fan? Then go ahead and wear the band's T-shirt (or hat, jacket, etc.). If not, wear anything else and you should be good. The only time it's acceptable to have the band's name or logo on your clothing is if it's a super-awesome old vest/jacket with a ton of patches on it, including one for the band you're seeing. Bonus points if you wear an awesome band shirt from a totally different genre.
8. Stick your elbow into someone else's spine/kidneys. If you ask us, whoever gets to the venue first deserves to be in the front row. It shows dedication, and the lack of a full-time job you can't ditch. In the event that you feel the need to push your way past those who arrived before you, try to remember that you're the one who's probably being a jerk, and do it in the politest way possible. Regardless of whether you're trying to push your way to the front or just crammed into a tightly packed crowd, keep your bony joints out of the delicate spots of other people's bodies as best you can. Sometimes, you won't be able to help where your elbows, knees, hands, and feet land, but just don't do it on purpose, and we'll try not to hate you.
7. Pretend to sing along when you don't know any of the words. There's always that one guy (or gal) at the concert who thinks they know a lot more songs than they actually do. They know the two or three songs on the radio, and maybe spun the album once (metaphorically speaking, on their iTunes), but that's not going to stop them from singing at the top of their lungs to every song played that night. They probably figure they're close enough, or that other people won't notice if they're just mumbling gibberish, but it's painfully obvious when you're just belting out nonsense. Keep your dignity and keep your mouth shut when you don't know the lyrics; we're sure you can have plenty of fun when only singing the parts you actually know.
6. Go against the vibe of the mosh pit. The type of mosh pit that's likely to break out at a show is entirely dependent on the concert itself. While some bands/genres are more prone to intense and violent mosh pits than others, pits for the toughest hardcore group playing for a crowd full of 50-year-old accountants are going to be tamer (or shorter lived, at least) than a pop-punk band playing for high school and college students. There's always that one guy who doesn't want to go home with bruises from a pit at a Sick Of It All show or does want to legitimately deck people while New Found Glory is playing, and usually everyone else in the mosh pit tends to hate him. Don't be that guy. If you don't want to participate in the type of pit that's occurring, then don't take part in it. Express yourself in other ways, and don't even get us started on going the wrong direction in circle pits.
5. Scream into strangers' ears. By all means, sing as loud as you'd like to your favorite songs. As long as you know the words (see: the previous page), we have no problem with you screaming until your voice is gone. That said, we'd really like to still hear the actual performer over the sound of your angelic voice. Assuming they have a decent PA system, that shouldn't be terribly difficult ... Unless you're screaming directly into someone's ear. Sure, if two people are really close friends and that's "their song" (in which case, we kind of hate them already), then maybe it's kind of understandable, but there's never a reason to scream your favorite song into a stranger's (or acquaintance's) eardrum.
4. Act like you're too cool to be there. Most people blame hipsters for being "too cool" for everything these days, but there have been jaded and ungrateful concertgoers for as long as there have been concerts. From hip-hop to metal, EDM to country, it doesn't matter what genre of music you're into, there'll be people at every show you attend who look like they don't want to be there. Whether it's the "I got dragged by my significant other" glazed-over stare or the "I've seen so many bands better than them" grimace, they're easy to spot. Just look for the one who looks like they're waiting in line at the DMV instead of in the fourth row of a Calvin Harris concert.
3. Get sloppy drunk. It's totally cool to have a few brews over the course of a concert. Hey, who are we to judge if you want to get drunk? Just don't lose control. You don't want to be that person who passes out, vomits, gets kicked out, wakes up with a cast, or doesn't remember any of the show. Of course, one of the worst concert crimes is the ol' spilled/dropped drink, which rarely happens while sober. We still have scars from the time when a belligerent chick dropped a beer bottle in front of us during an Everclear show and it shattered all over our shins.
2. Capture the entire show on your smartphone. The most heinous of smartphone offenses is also among the most common. While it's perfectly understandable to snap a quick photo when the act walks on stage or during your favorite song (either for social media or to make your few friends in real life jealous), let's lay off the hour-long videos, alright? There's no way you're ever going to go back to look at that, and even if you did, the sound and lighting would be undoubtedly terrible. Take a few photos, and then put the phone back in your pocket, for all of us. Concerts are better when they're seen in person rather than through the screen of a smartphone.
1. Interact with the act(s) while they're performing. This goes beyond yelling "Free Bird" at the opening band. It doesn't matter if it's drunk guys answering rhetorical questions from their favorite rapper or teenage girls screaming and waving to try to get Pete Wentz's attention (no really, have you ever been to a Fall Out Boy Show? It's truly incredible), it's pretty much always the worst. Do you really expect an artist to respond to whatever some frat boy is yelling at him from the crowd? Like he hasn't heard that sexually explicit pun made of his name before. Next time you're thinking about calling out to the people on stage following anything other than "Any requests?", do everyone a favor and keep your mouth shut instead.
This article originally published on March 16, 2015, and was updated for publication on July 11, 2016.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.