I love concerts more than the average bear. I guess I’m a product of my environment in that way. Concerts are as much a social activity in Nashville as hockey games are in Canada. [I have to admit, I have no idea what else there is to do up there besides hockey, except be bitter about your part in responsibility for Nickelback.]
I don’t claim to know everything about music, or to be particularly hip, or to know how to introduce you to Lady Gaga. But I have been to several concerts. And I have some sense of what irritates performers, fellow patrons, and-most importantly-my specific annoyances when it comes to concert behavior.
So in today’s effort-to-make-the-world-a-better-place, I bring you a list of concert do’s and don’ts. Or, to be more specific, things people do at shows that will get under your skin faster than a prison tattoo.
Wearing Band T-Shirts.
I have a few band T-shirts. I am not knocking the idea of buying t-shirts, or wearing cotton, or supporting the band you love. But don’t wear your Decemberists tee to their secret Soho show, even if you have aviator shades to offset it. You look like you’re trying too hard, or like you’re the type to sleep in the parking lot of the venue for three days in hopes of inhaling some exhaust fumes from the tour bus. Dress for going out: that’s what you’re doing. Save the t-shirt for the inevitable post-show nostalgia period. You’ll be so vintage if you wait a while.
I love to talk. If it was something you could do competitively-like those people who totally gross me out with the whole hot dog speed-eating thing-I would be a champion. And I am not against talking at shows. Note the distinction. I am against Loud-As-All-Get-Out talking, especially while the music is being played.
I recognize that some venues, like cafes, are going to be more conducive to continuing of socializing. Volume control is the most important thing here. I am pretty sure everyone else there at the venue would rather hear a U2 cover than the results of your optometry check up.
Also, I try to use the “commentary” rather than “conversation” method when show-talking.
Conversation: “And then I was like, ‘No, I don’t want to eat at Shoney’s because they don’t serve, like, any organic food, you know?’ And then he says, ‘I am more important than some cows in California,’ and I told him that he was being insensitive to my needs, you know? Because the causes I support are a part of me, and, like, you know what I mean. Hey, can you stop singing along? I’m trying to tell you something here.”
Commentary: “Lead singer. Shirt-as-dress. Precarious Choice.”
Hamlet said “Brevity is the soul of wit.” It is also a large contributor to how bearable your company is at a show.
Shouting Out Requests [Unsolicited].
This combines the “trying too hard” element from the first item and the “loud-as-all-get-out” part of the second one, forming a heinous and obnoxious hybrid. The only time you may ever shout out a request-ever in the history of music that has been or will be made-is if the performer asks if anyone has any requests.
I don’t care if you have a favorite song. So does everyone else there. I don’t care how funny your friend will think it is if you shout a song by the wrong band. Your friend is not funny at all. And is not invited to my birthday party.
Set lists are set for a reason. They have already been determined, and probably won’t change much. Just be patient, the biggest crowd pleasers come as closers and encore numbers [and there is always an encore]. So, cool your jets. You’ll be happier than not by the end of the evening, and will come out of the experience without a black eye.
Arriving Freakishly Late/Leaving Prematurely.
Show etiquette is all about respect. [Other than the whole t-shirt thing, which is inconsequential other than the fact that it deeply annoys me.] I get that everyone runs late, and has to cut out early on occasion.
What I’m saying is, don’t make a habit of it, and don’t go about it in a too-cool-for-school fashion. This is not your friend’s neighbor’s not-really-party-just-hanging-out thing. This is a performance. You would not show up in the middle of a play, or leave before the final monologue of a movie. Same principles for shows. Let them finish. You most likely paid for it anyway.
[And if you must leave early or come in late, wait till a lull of some kind. Don’t make your entrance or exodus mid-song. It’s kind of a punk thing to do.]
Don’t Be a Drunkypants.
Having a drink with friends can be delightful, and is often the perfect compliment to a night out at your sonic experience of choice. And I enjoy a nice import or cocktail as much as the next girl. I do not, however, enjoy belligerence. And as fate would have it-perhaps as punishment for some unknown social crime-I seem to be nearest the most ridiculous patrons of a given listening experience the majority of the time.
[Example: being a few feet from Brett Dennen’s microphone stand and having to put up with some lady screaming “I LOVE THIS SONG. DON’T YOU? ISN’T HE AMAZING?” into the depths of my inner ear while Brett was singing a new song that none of us had ever heard, including my astute new friend.]
Let’s face it, the less Drunkypants you are, the more responsible you’re being. And the more responsible you are, the less likely you are to commit Concert Faux Pas 1-4. [And not being Drunky McDrunkerson automatically makes you more attractive. I promise.]
So there you have it. A list of tips for a foolproof concert experience. Follow my guidelines and you’ll never be kicked out of any venues, social circles, or the good graces of yours truly.