Hot To Concert; Wise Words From A Seasoned Concert-Goer
If you’re a fan of concerts like yours truly, then you’ve undoubtedly found yourself in a position where the band for which you are attending the concert to see is not the headliner. Now, nine times out of ten this isn’t a problem; sometimes you even luck out by discovering something previously unseen in the headliner that makes you head home deciding to give them another listen. Sure, there are more people there who may be yawning during your favourite band’s set, but you don’t care; you’re there to do your thing and see your band – who cares what everyone else is doing, so long as they let you enjoy the show?
Unfortunately, in that one instance out of ten where there IS a problem, it can sometimes be enough to ruin the show, and as long as we’re talking about odds, relative numbers and statistics, I’ll say that 99% of the time, it’s the fans of the headline act who cause the problem and the ruination of the concert experience.
Fans: The worst thing to happen to bands since musical instruments
You’ve probably guessed by now that I’ve got a personal bone to pick here, and you’re right, because you’re far more intelligent than anyone gives you credit for.
This past weekend, I ventured out into the frigid Chicago February to see Between the Buried and Me on their tour with Russian Circles and Coheed and Cambria. I was excited to see Russian Circles, and to a lesser extent looking forward to Coheed, but make no mistake, I was there for BTBAM (in fact, Sigma and I interviewed BTBAM bassist Dan Briggs). The friends I was going with didn’t really care to see Russian Circles, but we managed to catch their last few songs (killer) and get into a good spot for Between the Buried and Me.
I learned long ago that you can’t stereotype metal crowds by how they look; the big motherfucker with sleeve tattoos, a thousand piercings, and an Anal Cunt t-shirt might be the most chilled out guy in the crowd, while the skinny kid in a Pink Floyd shirt and glasses might be waiting to go severely ham in the pit. You never know, and even if you have suspicions, liberal guilt prevents you from stereotyping, so even as I looked around and thought to myself “There are a lot of young, emo-looking kids here” I was already countering with “Yeah, but maybe they just look like that. Jesus I feel old here. Is that a mom over there? Do I have time to get another beer?” , so obviously I wasn’t too worried about something that was abundantly clear by the time Between the Buried and Me kicked off their set.
Make no mistake. This guy will FUCK. YOU. UP.
My friends and I were in the zone; watching and listening with rapt attention, awestruck by the clinic in AMAZING being put on right in front of our eyes. And then it started happening: Coheed kids decided they were bored. Which is fine; sometimes people get bored. But goddamn, keep it to your fucking self! Yes, concerts are fantastic social experiences where you get to meet new people who are into the same things you are. But if someone is enjoying the music, leave them alone! The following are some of the things said to me, usually accompanied by a tap on the shoulder, while I tried to enjoy the show:
“Hey man, you’re really tall. Please don’t elbow me in the face.”
“You can see good from there, huh? I’m stuck behind this guy… But you can see pretty good, yeah?”
“Do you mind if I take a pull from this cigarette real quick?”
“Do you like Coheed?”
“Did they play that song “Alaska’ yet? I don’t really like this band, but that’s a pretty good song. Do you like this band?”
“How long have they been playing?”
This list is in addition to the general conversation taking place during the set, and while I can understand people talking amongst themselves if they aren’t enjoying a show, this was easily the largest amount of conversations I’ve overheard while watching a band play. It’s as though the fans there to see Coheed and Cambria had absolutely no interest whatsoever in the previous two bands; they wanted Coheed, they were there for Coheed, and to hell with anyone else.
Everybody gets bored sometimes, but when this man opens his mouth, be a dude and shut the fuck up.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with this; you and I both go to shows all the time where all we care about is the headliner. But you and I, being the enlightened souls that we are, probably also take the time to at least listen to the opening bands, giving them a shot and at the very least not interrupting the experience for people for whom seeing Goatwhore (or any other band) play may be a religious experience. However, I know that this is but foolish wishing on my part, as it seems people are becoming more and more selfish while the values known as “common decency” to our grandparents get shot to hell, probably because of this music we’re going to see, creating a vicious cycle from which there’s no escape. But just in case I’m wrong, I suggest the following rules be adopted by everyone who goes to a concert, in order that everyone there can have the greatest and best time possible.
1.If you’re there for the headliner only, don’t assume everyone else is too. Try to enjoy the openers.
2. If you have absolutely no interest in the openers, take that extra time to drink a beer, smoke a bowl, or eat a sandwich, then show up when the headliner goes on. Just because your band is playing last doesn’t mean you get to ruin the beginning of the show for everyone else.
3. If you don’t want to see the openers, but want to be as close as possible for the headliner, you must follow Rule Number One. Being against the railing or right in front of the stage is a privilege, not a right.
4. If you’re in the middle of the pit, or a crowd, leave to get your beer/piss/smoke your cigarette between sets, not while a band is playing.
5. Make a choice: Do you want to be as close as possible, or do you want to get as drunk as possible? Make the choice, and either press up against a bunch of other sweaty folk for three hours or stand to the back by the bar, enjoying your drinks. If you change your mind, follow Rule Number Four.
6. If you want to strike up a friendly conversation with a fellow concert-goer, don’t do it if it looks like they’re enjoying the music.
7. If you’re toking up next to strangers, at least offer them a hit, because it’s very courteous of them not to cause a stink and get you busted. If you don’t want to at least offer to share, then smoke outside before the show.
8. You don’t have to share heroin or other hard drugs; if you’re doing those in the middle of a crowded room, people are going to be too scared of you to say anything anyway, so you’re good.
9. Remember that everyone is there to have fun and enjoy themselves, including you. If you aren’t enjoying a band, take a walk and look at the venue. Find other people who aren’t enjoying the music and talk to them. There are plenty of ways to enjoy yourself without annoying the bejeesus out of people who are really, really digging the music being played.
Hopefully if we all keep in mind that concerts are places for bands to make money and music fans to enjoy themselves, we can respect our fellow concert-goers and make them the best experiences they can be for everyone, because there’s just no reason anyone’s good time should be ruined because of anyone else. Unless me telling you to stop ruining my good time ruins your good time; in that case fuck your good time and leave me alone.