Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Is It Really That Hard? Concert Etiquette

Is there an etiquette guide to attending concerts? Because if not, there definitely should be.

Keith and I went to the Regina Spektor concert a few nights ago. We got there close to 9 o'clock—after the opening band, and just 5 or 10 minutes before Regina took the stage. It wasn't too crowded; most of the audience was even seated at small tables. We found a standing spot behind one table that wasn't too far back, nor too far to the side. We were pleased.

Until the people in front of us started behaving like idiots. What really struck me is that they didn't seem there to be at the concert. Their actions made it seem like they were hyper-aware of themselves as being people at a concert. If that makes sense. Like when they started singing along (which happened at regular intervals), it wasn't a natural, spontaneous thing. It felt, to me as an observer anyway, like this person had decided singing along at just this point is what one does at a concert. Do you know what I mean?

Anyway, it reminded me of some basic concert etiquette questions that bother me nearly every time we go to a semi-large concert. (And I mean "semi-large" very loosely— we were still at a pretty small venue with just a few hundred people, I would guess.)

  1. Why sing along with the singer at the top of your voice? Do you honestly think you're going to sound better than the act you paid to see? Do you imagine everyone around you standing and clapping for you? Perhaps you'll get offered a record contract on the spot?

    Not going to happen. I can understand mouthing the words, or singing softly to yourself. Because you obviously enjoy the music, and feel connected to the singer. But this is the 2nd concert in recent months (the other being the Decemberists, not that that's relevant) where we were near to concert-goers who tried to outsing the band. Not cool.

  2. Are you really so carried away by the music that you have to wave your hands/arms in the air, mid-song? Blocking the view of everyone behind you? I don't believe it.

  3. If you're going to pretend to be a Superfan, then stick with that persona. You can't cheer and scream excessively at the first few chords of every other song .... and then talk LOUDLY over the rest of the song. Are you telling me that this is your favorite song to converse to? Because that's just stupid.

If you're this type of concert-goer, you're still more then welcome to go to concerts. Just don't sit by me. Or—even better—don't go to my concerts. Stick with popular acts at large venues and we'll all be happier.


Jonathan said...

This whole post reminds me of people in church (which I hardly ever attend, having somewhat of a problem believing in any of it) who get all carried away and hold their hands in the air while shouting praise Jesus or something...

They are always down the front, and obviously doing it to be seen doing it. "Look at me, look at me - I believe more than you do - give me a gold star"

cat said...

My dear friend, I guess we will not be going to concerts together anytime soon. lol My excuse for 1 & 2 is that I'm usually drunk. I do stick to my rockstar personna for 3. Then again, most concerts I go to don't have tables and chairs either. They just have a bit mosh pit and the outlying areas for standing around. To answer your question "WHY"? Um, Why not? :)

M. Lubbers said...

I think your comparison to the most vocal churchgoers is apt, Jonathan.

Cat: Maybe we shouldn't go to a concert. Although, if we're at a punk concert where moshing is the norm, obviously the rules are a little different. This was a concert where a lone woman sat and played the piano and sang. It should have been a quieter, more respectful audience.

cat said...

Ah, yes. I'd have to use my grown-up manners then. ;)

Amy said...

An article related to your topic:

Listen up, talkers! Just why is it you yak and yak and yak at concerts and shows? How about using your ears instead? Thanks — Rich Heldenfels, Beacon Journal pop culture writer

M. Lubbers said...

Man! I've just been toying with the idea of taking some of my blog entries and turning them into longer pieces that I could submit for publication ... and this guy steals my thunder!

Except his take is a little different from mine. And I'm just glad to see evidence that one can get paid to write about quirks and minor annoyances!