We have all been there. You’re at a concert, whether it’s a small club or AT&T Stadium, and a fellow concertgoer almost ruins the experience. It seems more and more the concert-going experience is being tainted by loud, ignorant attendees who seem to care less about the artist on stage and more about visiting with friends and being seen.
If you’re at a show for the social scene, that’s fine. It’s good to go out, hang out, and be active. But keep in mind, for the person sitting or standing next to you, the show might be a sacred moment between fan and band. For a lot of us, certain bands and their songs are deeply meaningful and hearing them live is akin to a spiritual experience. Don’t ruin it for us. Don’t be one of these people:
1. The Talker
This person, by far, is the worst, for obvious reasons. Don’t be this person. Usually, this takes two people to really take it to obscene levels of annoyance. If you’re talking throughout a show, you’re telling the world why you’re a horrible, clueless, vapid person. If you don’t know the band that well, that’s no excuse to talk through it like you’re at a bar with friends. You’re annoying the dedicated fan standing next to you who wants to hear every word of Jason Isbell’s Cover Me Up without your story of the jerk in accounts receivable who made your day the worst. Shut up and listen to the show.
At Wilco’s October show at the Toyota Music Factory in Irving two young women held a conversation through the first hour of the show until someone yelled “Shut up!” I may or may not know that person. Adding to their exasperating behavior was a subset of the concert talker, the guy hitting on a woman. Look, this show isn’t a dating service. Go somewhere else to show off your biceps and smooth talk the ladies. Some of us want to hear and see a show without a drunken version of the Dating Game playing out in front of us.
2. The Arm-raisers
A little of this goes a long way. Once or twice during a show is understandable, especially when a band is playing your favorite song or making eye contact with you or something. This becomes a problem, however, when the person in front of you never puts his arm(s) down. Unless you’re at a Mötley Crüe show in 1986, raising your arms with the heavy metal hand gesture just doesn’t fly anymore. (FYI, I spent an embarrassing amount of time figuring out how to include those umlauts!) Arm-raisers block the view of several people behind them and it’s hard for anyone behind them to keep a clear eye line of the stage. The arm-raiser also likes to point at the performer, as if he’s reminding the performer that he’s on stage or something. Newsflash: The singer knows where he is. He’s also looking at a sea of people and not zeroing in on the yahoo pointing his finger towards him in some sort of prehistoric caveman gesture.
3. The Professional Whistlers
If you’re using fingers to help make a sound out of your mouth something is not right. For one, you’re showing off and making all of us non-whistlers feel inadequate. You’re also making a sound than can pierce the ear drums of a guy at a concert across town, let alone standing right next to you. Whose attention are you even trying to draw? The performer? Forget it. They’re not hearing it anyway. Even if they did, do you expect them to stop down the show to point out how awesome your whistling is? How about just clapping like us normal people?
4. The Phone Guy
A subset of the arm-raiser is the constant picture-taker. Word to the wise, unless you’re within 10 feet of the performer your picture is going to suck. Full disclosure: I’ve been this guy. I can’t help myself if I’m five feet from Eddie Vedder or Bono. I’m going to let loose like a paparazzo. I try to keep the camera in front of my face, not above my head so I’m not interfering with the view of those behind me. Also, take off your flash. Most times the artist will be lit up enough in the spotlight. The flash on your phone camera will often just light up the back of the heads of the people in front of you leaving the star you were shooting in the dark.
This one may seem vague, but let me explain. When a band takes the stage, starting or finishing a song, it makes sense to scream out of appreciation or excitement. The random scream, however, in the middle of a song or during a moment of relative quiet during a show, especially if said screamer is standing a few feet from your ear drum, not only comes off as obnoxious and annoying, but has made me nearly wet myself out of sudden fear. Most of these people are not just letting a moment of emotion take over. They’re drunk or purposefully being ridiculous, perhaps even thinking they’re being funny. If it’s loud enough and close enough to my ears, I will give you a nasty glare.
6. Tall People
This is last because I do realize that tall people can’t help being tall. But do all of us height-challenged people a favor and maybe stand off to the side or in the back of the venue. Ladies, no need to wear high heels at a concert. You really think Justin Timberlake is going to catch a glimpse and have security escort you backstage? You know better than anyone that those things aren’t comfortable. Plus, you’re cheating and making it hard for me to see Bono.