Friday, March 21, 2014

Concert Etiquette 101

With the summer concert season quickly approaching, it’s time for a little reminder on a few topics that can make or break the concert-going experience.

1)  Standing vs. Sitting:  As an audience, this one is our responsibility to determine as early on in the concert as possible.  Based on the band and the type of music they play, this decision is usually easy, but there are rare occasions where it can be a little dicey.  As we listen to the first song, it is perfectly acceptable to test the waters, and we’ll often see a mix of sitters and standers.  That first song sets the tone for the entire show, and in the case of concerts, the majority rules.  In most cases standing is preferred, as standing lends itself better to dancing, and hey, you’re at a concert not a biology lecture, so it only makes sense.  Some bands however are more low key, or maybe draw a different audience demographic, where sitting down is the preferred method of maximizing one’s enjoyment level.  If you find yourself attending a “sit down concert”, and if by the second song you are the only one standing, you can be sure that everyone behind you has assigned you a new nickname:  “Asshole!” 

2)  Dancing:  As a concert goer, you are well within your rights to dance till your heart’s content.  With all the excitement, music, atmosphere, friends, booze, etc… that summer concerts provide, dancing is naturally an expectation, and adds to the overall enjoyment of the experience.  Granted, there are often those who are not quite comfortable enough to dance, or perhaps were dragged to the show with friends, and just aren’t into the band in the same way you are.  That’s okay too, all types are always welcome.  But here’s the thing, regardless of which category you fall under, we’ve all paid the same money to attend the concert, thus temporarily granting us rights over the 2 square feet of real estate within which our assigned seat sits.  If your dancing style frequently involves arm flailing, leg kicking, hip shaking or full body fluctuations that extend beyond your 2 square feet, thus encroaching into your neighbour’s 2 square feet, you can be assured that your neighbour is cursing the night your parents had sex, spawning such an inconsiderate bastard such as yourself.  Don’t do that.  Be respectful.  We’re all there to have a good time, just make sure your good time doesn’t take away from someone else’s good time. 

3)  Beach Balls, Glow Sticks, and other Projectiles:  What brain malfunction exists in some people that makes bringing projectiles to a concert that can be thrown at the band and other concert-goers seem like a good idea?  Taking an unexpected beach ball off the back of the head in the middle of a song throws you off and takes your attention away from the stage momentarily, thereby creating a minor dip in your enjoyment-meter.  Taking an unexpected glow stick to the back of your head can actually hurt, and requires a great deal of mental and physical restraint as you try to lower your blood pressure and combat your rage before inevitably turning into the Incredible Hulk and going on a rampage to find the idiot who threw it!  As concert-goers, we should be permitted to “Code Red” these offenders without consequence.  How else are they going to learn, right?    

4)  Shouting Song Requests:  Everybody has their favourite song.  Maybe you danced to this song at your wedding, maybe the lyrics have some special meaning to you, or maybe you just love the beat.  For whatever your personal reasons, it’s totally acceptable to go to a concert hoping to hear a specific song.  In most cases however, the setlist decided upon by the band has been pre-determined well in advance of your arrival.  You shouting a song title at the top of your lungs from anywhere beyond the third row is not going to be heard by the band.  Sorry, but they simply can’t hear you.  But you know who CAN hear you?  EVERYONE AROUND YOU!!  We have just as much control over the setlist as you do, so screaming a song title to us over and over and over again is not going to change anything, other than our opinion of you!  So please, do us all a favour and SHUT THE F&#K UP!!! 

5)  Signs:  When you go to a concert, you know that the likelihood of a partially obstructed view is strong, given the various shapes and sizes that we human beings possess.  I’m 6’- 4” tall, and am very self-conscious about that fact while at a concert, especially one where everyone is standing.  I know this requires those behind me to lean slightly to one side or the other, therefore I restrict my concert dancing to more of a forward and backward style, as opposed to side to side, which would only lead to further aggravation of those unfortunate enough to be behind me.  I stay within my 2 square feet, and try my best to ensure I don’t make the situation any worse for them than it already is.  I try to give them the best chance to see the stage as I can, as happy neighbours only enhance the concert-going experience.  It’s often challenging enough to see the stage at the best of times, but if you’re one of those people who bring what looks like a grade 3 art project on a 2ft by 3ft sheet of cardboard into the concert, and consistently wave it above your head, you may as well have just parked a transport trailer in front of all those behind you!  That in my mind is the ultimate sign of disrespect for everyone around you.  DON’T DO THAT!!          

At the end of the day, it all comes down to respect.  Respect for the band, and respect for those who have shelled out just as much money as you have to attend that concert.  We’re all in this together, and we all want to have an amazing time.  Be cognizant that concerts are a group experience, and that your actions do have a direct impact on others.  Please don’t do things that you know will take away from other people’s enjoyment.  It’s simple really; just treat others like you’d like to be treated.  

Enjoy the show!

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