A call for concert etiquette reform

By Joe Cahill
November 14, 2010

The concert is dying, and this generation is killing it.

As an avid attendee of shows, one thing I hope for more than a good performance is a good crowd. Many people take for granted how much the audience can make or break a concert-going experience.  In the past year, I’ve gone to a number of shows that have left me worrying about social ills and lack of common courtesy.  Concert etiquette should be addressed before it’s too late.

First thing’s first, alcohol and illicit substances are bound to be present.  Many concert venues have roped-off sections for the 21-and-over crowd, if they don’t turn away minors at the door entirely.  This may not be the ’60s, but one would also be hard pressed to go to a show in which at least one person is smoking pot.

With regards to such libations, Benjamin Franklin said it best, “everything in moderation.” Nothing is more aggravating as a concert-goer than a group of inxoticated idiots ruining one’s favorite artist’s performance. Have fun and enjoy the show.  Most of all, remember that you’re there to enjoy what’s on stage, not hitting on the stranger next to you or taking a phone call mid-song.

Where there’s fuel, there’s fire. Depending on the type of show one attends, there is the potential for a wild crowd.  Mosh pits and getting pushed around can happen at most general admission shows.  Individuals who aren’t a fan of this or who are prone to claustrophobia would do best to avoid these venues.

I’m all for moving with the crowd and enjoying the show, and even I’ve participated in my fair share of mosh pits. As stated before, there is a fine line between fun and excessive. I’ve attended shows where no one can move, but to have a guy with a very clear glandular issue sweat all over my friends and I made the experience less than stellar.

This brings me to my next point, dress appropriately. In the dead of winter, it might honestly be better to wear a t-shirt, shorts and similar clothing to a concert.  Chances are the building itself will be heated and the added heat from others in the audience can make any show a toasty experience. Be generous with deodorant.       No one wants to be “that guy.”

Another important bit of audience etiquette to remember abides be the rule of real estate: location, location, location.  Attendees of general admission show have likely experienced individuals cutting through the already dense crowd in an effort to move to the front. This is a huge slap in the face to other individuals who arrived early and staked their claim. If one arrives late to a show, he or she should stay near the back.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, beware tech addiction.  These days, it’s easy to get caught up in taking pictures with digital cameras or cell phones. The danger in this lies in getting lost in LCD screens instead of the show you’re attending.  Take some snapshots here and there, but actually pay attention and watch the show.  It gives one a much more rewarding experience.

In short, take a page from the days of Woodstock.  Concerts should be about enjoying music with others and the ability to look back with bragging rights.  Get lost in the music, not the fray.

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Joe Cahill

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