Years ago a local newspaper columnist I knew would do a story annually on bad behavior at concerts. It was a popular column and the feedback from readers with their own horror stories would make you laugh & cringe. Last night I was at a sold out show at witnessed this bad behavior in action once again. In honor, and homage to my friend Mark Brown, I give you the modern take on live music concert etiquette.
When going to a concert we are all seeking the same thing: to have fun. The band is there for that. The audience is there for that. The problem is some people’s idea of fun, is not always the same as everyone else’s. Your behavior can, at a minimum, be considered rude, and, at a maximum, be illegal and enough to get you tossed from the venue. Here are the DO’s and DON’T’s of concerts:
1. DON’T sing every word to every song that the band is playing. They already know the words, and the people around paid to hear the band sing, not you.
2. DO sing to the band when they ask everyone to sing along.
3. DON’T scream out band members names at any opportunity. They know their own names and don’t need you to remind them.
4. DO scream & clap appreciation for solos, and songs with the rest of the audience.
5. DON’T talk through the band’s set. If you want to talk, go outside the venue or someplace where you don’t interfere with the rest of the audience. This is true of the opening act, or anyone who is performing. People paid to hear these people NOT you.
6. DON’T scream “Freebird” or any of the other usual song requests. The band has a set list. Some may ask for audience participation, but drunkenly screaming out something they NEVER play does not win you points.
7. DON’T get drunk. You may see yourself as the master of the universe when drunk but most likely, everyone around you doesn’t. If you get too drunk you WILL get tossed from a venue. If you don’t, and act like an ass, you will be remembered, ridiculed and punished.
8. DON’T get stoned. See number 7.
9. DON’T stand up for a song, or set when everyone around you is sitting down. You will block someone’s view and that ruins their fun.
10. DON’T text, talk or photograph the entire concert or set. In the smartphone era a generation has been raised to believe that you can’t actually brag that you were at a show without demonstrating you are AT a show. Professional photographers have the first 3 songs to capture the best of the band. They have better cameras and a better view than you. Take a few shots but remember the joy of a concert is BEING there. It is called a concert experience because everyone is present. If you can’t look up from your phone, you are not.
11. DON’T quote me the set. You may have seen the band 20 times and memorized their facebook, and twitter. You may be the ultimate fan and know them by name, age and social security number. If you want your band to get more popular it is because they attract NEW fans beyond just you. You want the person next to you to experience what you did as NEW. If you blab about every song, every second, they may walk out and that is a lost fan & sale for your band.
DO have fun. Remember that everyone around you wants to as well. Often times I go to shows to see how a band does live. I may have never seen them. I meet the excited fans who know every detail of the artist’s life. I learn some things from them, but the experience I get is to see them perform.