The Do’s and Don’ts of Live Show Attendance

18 Apr

As an avid concert-goer, I’ve seen been in my fair share of live show audiences. However, as a life-long Houstonian I’ve seen more than my fair share of horrendously bad concerts, mainly brought on by the fans themselves.

I won’t say that Houston as a whole is a bad place, but I will say that we have more than our fair share of bad eggs. And anyone who knows anything about a bad egg knows that once you get a taste of something sour, you’re not likely to return to the source for another bite.

That being said, I’d like to share my own thoughts and advice on being in the crowd at a live show. Some of this may seem like common-sense, but sadly, I’ve grown to learn that not everyone was handed down even the most basic concept of what is socially acceptable.

1. Don’t talk during a song.
The people around you didn’t pay to listen to you talk about your job or relationship, they paid to listen to the band on the stage. Additionally, the band didn’t leave behind their bed, family and sense of normalcy to stand on a stage and play in a crowd of people that were talking through their entire set.
In 2009, Jenny Lewis was performing her beautifully bare song ‘Trying My Best To Love You” at Warehouse Live in Houston. Mid-song, Lewis stopped singing and refused to finish after her own vocals were drowned out by the crowd’s chatter. Band-mate and long time boyfriend, Johnathan Rice, came on-stage and interjected with his own thoughts on the situation before the band continued the set.

If you’re going to a concert with a friend you haven’t seen in a while or you have something important to tell them, grab dinner before you head to the venue or stand toward the back of the room and bars where you’re less likely to bother those around you. It’s okay to talk between songs or have a few words, but if you’re doing this more than you are listening, you’re most likely becoming a bother to others – and the band.

2. Do practice good hygiene.
Smelling spit is gross, but smelling someone’s obvious body odor is absolutely foul. It’s understandable to get sweaty throughout the duration of the concert, but if you’re going to simultaneously invade someone’s personal space and dance with your arms up, apply some deodorant. If you’re going to head-bang, wash your hair (and don’t slap people in the face with it). Get my drift? Let’s hope so.

3. Do dance and sing along.
It seems a no-brainer, but it isn’t always. I can’t count how many times I’ve been to a concert where people absolutely refuse to respond to the music – even after the band prompts them to. You won’t become uncool if you clap and sing, nor will you be black-listed from the club for dancing. This is especially important for opening bands, who are mainly in the early stages of their career and generally unknown. Just remember that a song is a musician’s art, and just like you want positive reinforcement, so do bands. It’s okay to not like everything you hear, but even if you’re not feeling the music, applaud at the end of each song. And please, at all times, refrain from screaming out rude comments.

Sadly, this White Stripes recording from their show at a club in Houston in 2001 only reinforces what I said earlier. (Skip to about :38)

4. Do skip out on a drink or two and spend your money at the merch booth.
Unless you’ve been under a rock since rock and roll was invented, you know that there is no such thing as a band without merchandise. If you’ve been following my blog long (yes, this includes my old blog), you know that I support musicians as much and as often as possible.
For those of you who don’t know, buying albums, shirts and other merch from the bands at the concert gives them the most profit possible. Not only is it their main income while on the road, but every single cent made from selling merch goes directly into the band’s pockets when they most need it. So if you liked the opening band and were planning to go home and download their album, skip out on a few drinks and spend the $5-10 it costs to support the musicians you’re there to see. Even if you planned on picking it up at Best Buy the next day, I can almost guarantee it’ll be cheaper at the concert and the band will appreciate the money a lot more. And chances are, the band will have deals (like two CD’s for $15) and rare or out-of-print merch that will be gone once they sell out.
(My merch of choice are silkscreen posters. They’re usually limited edition and the one-size-fits-all souvenir pays for itself when you don’t have to worry about buying paint or wall decorations.)

5. Don’t be inconsiderate of those around you.
There’s nothing worse than standing next to someone who has had far too much to drink, behind someone who towers over you, or in the vicinity of a couple that is indulging in over-the-top PDA. It’s hard enough standing for hours in a dark, hot room where people are smoking (even though they shouldn’t). Why make it worse? I’ve seen cops and security alike come into crowds to fish out those especially drunken idiots who were already asked to leave, and I can assure you that nobody around you thinks it’s fun when you’re falling over drunk. Additionally, I can’t count how many inconsiderate guys have pushed their way through a crowd and stood in front of people whose view they’re blocking.

And then, there’s this….

Like people who talk way too much, it’s pretty annoying to stand behind or beside a couple who are more worried about showing affection for one another than appreciation for the band. I’ve got too many horror stories to share, but I’ll just say that the worst one was when I could smell the couple’s spit that was covering each others necks. I’m not against a kiss or holding hands, but full-on making out isn’t okay. If you wouldn’t do it in front of your parents, you shouldn’t do it at a concert.


2 Responses to “The Do’s and Don’ts of Live Show Attendance”

  1. Mike April 18, 2011 at 10:32 pm #

    Use the white stripes clip from rudyards where jack yells at the hipsters for not dancing for number two…. Great clip

    • Alyssa April 18, 2011 at 10:52 pm #

      Thank you! Didn’t even think of that but I’ll throw it up in a second!

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