There was some chatter on the Twitter a few days ago about gig etiquette and it set me to thinking about the live music experience, about how great it is to be in a room full of strangers but with whom you have at least one thing in common and about how that should mean that you are in a room full of potential friends. Often though the live music experience is one that is blighted by nasty, rude, unpleasant, vulgar and boorish behaviour. It is, I think, the problem of crowds…recent days have highlighted how people can become emboldened to behave in ways that, most people, believe to be unacceptable at football matches. Often Twitter itself becomes a crowd and people say things that they wouldn’t say in a one-to-one interaction with another person…although anonymity plays a big part in that too.
What would make the gig experience better?
Here are my suggestions…
- Venues and bands should look to support the efforts of Safe Gigs for Women as they seek to make the experience of seeing a band live one that can be enjoyed by women as opposed to be being a potentially traumatic event. That means ensuring that if you are in close proximity to a woman you should avoid, you know, sexually assaulting her or physically assaulting her or, basically, interfering with her right to exist without being forced to endure any sort of physical contact that she hasn’t asked for. That’s reasonable I think?
- If you are a big man, let’s say six foot or over, why not make the decision not to stand in front of people who are, let’s say, not six foot or over…especially when there are a couple of you. It wouldn’t take much to look over your shoulder and say to the shorty behind you (usually me) “Can you see alright? Would you like to stand here?”
- No flatulence. Seriously, what is it with some people (I say “people” but I think it is mainly men) and their unwillingness to go to the toilet when they need to discharge the gases from their anus? It just makes everyone else feel ill. Just stop doing it. If I wanted to stand in a room filled with the dull odour of anal gas I would visit the House of Commons…BOOM. Bit of politics for you their kids.
- Don’t throw pints of beer over your shoulder or into the crowd in front of you. What is it with those people? Covering strangers in a shower of beer because…? I guess “banter”? Sadly the perpetrators of this particular crime, in my experience, tend to be wearing either a bucket hat, a Stone Roses t-shirt or are sporting the sort of haircut Liam Gallagher had in 1997.
- Stop shouting out the name of your favourite song over and over and over again in between songs. The band are not a jukebox, you can’t pop 50p in a slot and get a customised set-list. Most of the bands you are going to see have released lots and lots of records and, shock, they can’t play all of them every night. I once went to see Richard Hawley and an intoxicated woman shouted out “CARAVAN” after EVERY song in his set. Even after he had, politely, told her he wasn’t going to play it.
- No talking. Obviously I don’t mean no talking. I mean no conversations about how Sheila in accounts has had to take her dog to the vets today and she was so upset and I think Lorraine in H.R is organising a collection to buy him a squeaky toy and then Mike in the canteen said that he didn’t think Sheila even had a dog and that just got everybody thinking about whether or not she did and finally Brian reminded everyone that she had said her dog had died the last time Ed Sheeran was playing in Glasgow and she had had to leave early that day. That kind of talking. Nobody is interested. Nobody spent twenty to sixty pounds on a ticket for a concert to hear about your day. Nobody. At the end of a song you might want to turn to whoever you are with and say “Wow, how good was that?” and that is fine but please shut up with the conversations.
- Try to avoid getting so drunk that you end up falling over. Drunk people falling over at gigs are just awful. It ruins the atmosphere of fun and frolics that live music usually creates. Maybe have a couple of drinks and don’t fall over. It is possible to go to a live music event without getting so drunk that you fall over. I’ve done it. In fact, I always do it.
- Absolutely no filming of the gig. Under any circumstances. Under all circumstances. You are AT the gig. You are living the experience. You don’t need to capture it. You know you were there. You know how you felt. Your grainy, shaky, barely audible footage taken from behind a drunk bloke falling over isn’t the same as a professionally recorded concert film. Also, I don’t want to watch the gig through your iPad screen. Have you seen that? People whipping out an iPad to film a gig! Stop it. Live in the moment. Feel something. Engage with the world around you. Connect with your emotions and the emotions of those around you.
- Don’t take group selfies during the gig of you and your mates with the band playing behind you. I don’t like it. I find it irritating.
- I would prefer it if you didn’t wear a t-shirt related to the band you are watching. Actually I would prefer it if you didn’t wear a t-shirt at all unless you are playing sport but you don’t need to prove to the band or anyone else in the crowd that you love the band…you are at their concert, you have bought a ticket, you have travelled, you have organised a babysitter; it is obvious you like the band. Save the t-shirt for wearing to bed.