Concert Etiquette: Brought to you by a brief hiatus from historical blogging

Although I love my history blog, once in a while I feel moved by a topic enough to blog outside the historical realm. So for all of you following this blog for that reason, I apologize, but maybe you’ll find this post helpful. Being somebody who is a self-proclaimed music snob (I cant lie to you, loyal readers) and attends a lot of shows, concerts and music events etc., I’ve seen and heard a lot of really cool, moving things.  I’ve also been bruised, sweated upon, yelled at and stank eyed…hey it comes with the territory.  What I’ve come up with here is a simple list of concert tips (going slightly beyond etiquette alone) to make sure you enjoy your music experiences as much as possible and so that you can check yourself to make sure you aren’t the one ticking off everybody around you.

Demographics

For those of you over nineteen, when you have the option, I always advise selecting a 19+ show. Most of the time you don’t have this luxury but if you wish to skip over ‘oh em gee why is everybody pushing me’…and the majority of the pushing itself, a more mature crowd is where it’s at. It’s surprising what a huge difference this can make. I by NO MEANS want to infer that everybody under nineteen is like this but you need to remember that for most all ages shows, these are some of the first concerts people are attending and the experience level just isn’t the same.

Location is another key when selecting a show. Always, check out the venues online and weigh them with crowd experience when you have a selection.  For example, often when selecting a concert I can pick between Toronto and Detroit- my house is pretty much in the middle.  In Detroit you have a chance at better venues in a lot of cases (Filmore, the Fox etc., not to discount Massey Hall or the Sony Center in Toronto) but also a more…aggressive…crowd (no not all Detroitonians are aggressive but it’s a different atmosphere).  In Detroit, I’ve been elbowed, kicked and groped inappropriately. Seeing the same artists in Toronto, I’ve made new friends, shared great concert experiences and went home without so much as a scuff on my shoes. I’ve met some lovely people in Detroit but my experiences are something I take into account when selecting and it hasn’t steered me wrong.

Attire

Closed-toe footwear is a must.  Even at outdoor events, it’s always a no-no to wear sandals, for fear of having your toes completely annihilated. Trust me. Also take into consideration, the extreme heat you can feel with 2000 strangers rubbing shoulders with you. I tend to opt for a dress and bicycle shorts underneath just in case.

Put in the Time

I can’t count the number of times I’ve shown somebody a pick my boyfriend or I caught or told them we were on the rail at a show that they have said back to me “You’re soooooo lucky.” Luck has nothing to do with it my friends. Okay maybe lucky counts for 3% but the rest is pure dedication and perspiration.  If you want to get on the rail, that sometimes means lining up the night before and camping out on the sidewalk. If you want the pick, you wait, make a sign or stick around after the show or do whatever it takes (see the section on security). It means jumping in the air sometimes, but usually scouring on the ground. You get what you put in.

A sign I made for the Jack White concert last year. We waited in line all day, made this and were rewarded with a pick! :)
A sign I made for the Jack White concert last year. We waited in line all day, made this and were rewarded with a pick! 🙂

Pushing, Shoving and General Heckling

Just don’t. You heard me. Dancing is totally cool- I love it in fact. Do it, move how the music moves you. DO. NOT. ELBOW. DO. NOT. FIGHT. Oh you’re getting a bruise because the entire sea of 2000 people is pushing forward and you’re feeling some force? Sorry, nothing I can do. The neck breather behind you is driving you mad? Chill. Elbowing them isn’t going to help your end game. Chances are there’s really nothing you can do about it so just try to enjoy the music and forget it. If you have your neighbour’s back, they’ll probably have yours. Spread the love and be considerate.

Click Happy

There’s no harm in taking a few photos to remember the experience (unless otherwise specified) but don’t have a camera in front of your face the whole time and forget to enjoy yourself.  This is for two reasons. First, for the people behind you, it’s super annoying. Second, professional photographers are usually there snapping up great shots in front of the bars for the first three songs- there’ll be no shortage for you to look at tomorrow.  You’re there to enjoy the music and you should do that.

Be Logical

This mostly goes for people who did not spend the day waiting in line- and hey! There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Waiting isn’t everybody’s bag.  What this does mean for you however, is that the people on the front rail in no way are willing to let you squish in beside them or have their place “for pretty please, just one song?”.  You need to be cool with that and respect it. If everyone just gets along and uses their heads, it makes for a much more enjoyable show and the possibility of friendship with people who know a lot about music.

Security is your Friend

One of the biggest secret tips I have (and that means you have to have read this far to see it) is to make friends with the security guards before the show.  A simple “Hey man, I was just wondering, if a pick possibly falls in an area you can grab it, would it be possible for me to have it?” or a friendly smile can make all the difference to the experience you have.  It also lets them know you’re cool and if anything should go ary- you probably didn’t start it (please don’t prove me wrong with this hehe).

If All Else Fails…

Take a deep breath and remember you’re there to have fun.  Concerts can’t always go perfectly or exactly the way we hope but they can always be enjoyed if you zone out and listen. Try not to sweat the small stuff.

Till next time- keep on bloggin’ in the free world.

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