Tinkergoth’s Guide to Concert Etiquette (Warning: Profanity)

Hey everyone. It’s been far longer than I’d wanted it to be before I posted something, but the truth of the matter is that I haven’t been gaming much at all recently, and am in fact taking a bit of a break from Pathfinder while I deal with some personal stuff. Additionally, the Canberra International Film Festival starts next Friday, meaning that any posts I make in the next three weeks or so are more likely than not to be related to that (my next post will in fact be a list of which movies I’m seeing, but in the mean time feel free to check out the program at www.ciff.com.au). Twenty three films in just under three weeks is a bit of a time sink, but hey, it only comes around once a year.

Anyway, let’s get onto the topic at hand. I went and saw The Tea Party at the ANU Bar tonight, which made me so, so happy, especially since The Superjesus were one of the support acts. For those of you who don’t know, The Tea Party are a Canadian rock band with a unique eastern influenced style that often gets them referred to as Moroccan Roll. They’re one of my favourite bands, have been since a family put me on to them when I was quite young. The show was, as expected, amazing, and they played almost all of the songs I wanted to hear (the only ones missing were Cathartik and Walking Wounded). I met some awesome people, rocked out and generally had a fantastic time. Walked out thankful that they’d finally got back together so that I had an opportunity to see them after all these years.

Unfortunately, as is often the case at shows held at venues like that (smallish university bars), some people can’t just enjoy the music, they have to ruin it for those around them. I kind of expect a crowd to get a bit rough at metal shows and so on, but for bands like The Tea Party it just ticks me off. Particularly when some lovely older woman who’s obviously a long time fan has arrived early to get a spot near the front with her husband and friends, and gets harassed badly enough that she ends up leaving in tears twenty minutes into the main act. So I’ve decided that I’d try to share some information about etiquette at gigs, which will hopefully educate and enlighten some people (not bloody likely, but it’s been way too long since I’ve had a rant, and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity). Obviously when I say “you” in the following rant, I’m not referring to everyone. Just the idiots who behave this way. Also, second and final warning, profanity is on the way.

So, buckle up ladies and gentlemen, and prepare yourself for…

Tinkergoth’s Guide to Concert Etiquette

So to cut a long story short, all of my advice here can really be boiled down to one very simple concept. It’s actually a good rule to live by in general, but many people seem to have trouble with it. The golden rule of concert etiquette is this:

Don’t be a complete and utter fuck knuckle!

My usual way of stating that rule is actually somewhat harsher than that, but I felt that I should keep some limits on what profanity I’ll drop on a public blog. Anyway, as I said, for the gods only know what reason, some people are entirely unable to grasp this simple concept. So in order to assist these poor souls, I’m going to break it down into a few specific guidelines. These guidelines assume we’re talking about a concert in a smallish venue where it’s standing room only. Let’s start with:

Don’t be a Frontline Soldier

I’d never really had a name for this kind of behaviour (apart from the obvious swearing) prior to reading Questionable Content and finding this early comic. Put simply, the Frontline Soldiers are the arseholes who don’t understand that it’s not their fucking god given right to be right up the front of the crowd, and expect everyone else to just move out of their way like Moses parting the Red Sea, if the Red Sea was a tightly packed crowd of sweaty dancing people. I get it, I really do. You’re excited to see the band, to hear the music, and you want to get as close as you can. So does everyone else. So I’m going to let you in on a little secret, it’s how the rest of us manage to get such good spots… it’s called GETTING THERE EARLY! Seriously. It’s pretty normal for me to show up to gigs an hour before the doors open, be the first in line when the doors do open, buy any merch I’m after, grab a drink and then stake out a spot right at the front. After that, I’ll not move from that spot at all. I’ll hold it during the support acts and right into the main act. If I don’t do that, like tonight, then I’m content to get as close as I can without having to shove people out of my goddamn way. I still managed to be, at most, four people back from the front, and had a perfectly good view of the stage from there.

Now that’s not to say you can’t move forward during the show. You can. But don’t be a dick about it. Don’t push your way past people. Don’t shove yourself in front of someone and then stand so close they’re basically forced to rub up against your back. Keep an eye out for spots where there’s a bit of free space (and I mean enough for you to stand without having to get uncomfortably close to a stranger, it’s absolutely fine and expected to brush up against people as you move around during a show, but you shouldn’t be fucking well grinding on them, unless they specifically want you to, in which case hey, go nuts). When a spot opens up, if no one in front of you moves forward to take it, politely edge your way past them, and hey presto, you’re that little bit closer without having to be a dick to people. If those in front of you do take it, then just move forward into their former spot. Same result, you’re closer! It’s not bloody rocket science. Moving on to the next guideline…

Don’t start fights because someone called you on your shit

If you do decide to be a fuck knuckle and push you way forward through the crowd, don’t be fucking surprised when someone calls you out on it. If you shove yourself to the front, and someone takes exception and reefs you back behind themselves, you’ve really got no cause for complaint. They were there first, because they cared enough to arrive early enough to be there first. They’ve obviously got more dedication than you do, so show some respect and accept that you’ve gotten as far as you’re going to. Don’t scream, spit in their face, pour your drink on them or, as I can only assume some of you are planning as your escalation point, fling your shit at them. For one, as happened tonight, you’re just going to get everyone around you offside, and those of us who care enough WILL do something about it. I have no objections to, with the assistance of a few other guys in the crowd, boxing you in and keeping you there until we can signal security to remove you. The fact that I had to do this more than once tonight is just fucking disgraceful. Unfortunately we didn’t notice what was happening soon enough and, as I mentioned before, an older woman in the audience ended up leaving in tears because some stupid young women had gotten angry due to her objections to their pushing in front of her, and poured vodka and beer all over her, then torn the sleeves on her top open. Thankfully when I saw her after the show, it turned out she’d gone to the back and had, after having a chance to calm down, still had a good time. But an occurrence like that is a definite stain on her evening, and is something no one should have to put up with.

Shut the hell up and listen to the music

I’m not saying you have to be silent. Hell, I’m the first one to start singing along to bands. Singing or screaming along, clapping and cheering, all of that’s expected and awesome. Just don’t be a Chatterbox. What I don’t want is to hear your screamed conversations with your friends about how you’re totally tripping balls and/or drunk as fuck. I. Don’t. Care. I’m there to listen to the band, and logically given that you paid to be there, SO ARE YOU! So shut up about the acid you dropped, the blunt you smoked, or the shots you downed, and start listening to the music. You’ll enjoy it a lot more, and so will everyone else around you, if your voice isn’t competing with the band for attention. Interestingly enough, the biggest offenders for this are usually the Frontline Soldiers, probably because being high and/or drunk lowers inhibitions and stunts commonsense, and they start to think it’s reasonable to smash their way to the front. Likewise, they’re the most common offenders for the last two vital guidelines.

Respect the personal space of those around you

As I said, this one’s related to the Frontline Soldiers. Often when they push their way in, they’ll head for a space that’s way to small to accommodate them properly. Now, as I mentioned earlier, it’s totally cool to be close enough that you’re going to sometimes brush up against people while you’re dancing. It’s practically impossible to not be. But you shouldn’t be pressed up against someone unless they’re your partner or a close friend. At tonight’s gig, I was standing between two couples, with two women I’d struck up a conversation with earlier just in front of me. As I’m inclined to, I danced and headbanged a bit, as did those around me. And yes, occasionally my arms or legs would brush up against one of the people around me. But no one cared, because it wasn’t a constant thing… until some fucking idiot charged his way in front of the women in front of me and pushed them back so that they ended up that little bit closer to me. Suddenly it’s awkward for all concerned, because while I’ve spoken to these women, I don’t think either they nor I would have been comfortable grinding against each other. Thankfully the guy did shift away a little bit, and it wasn’t a problem for long, but it’s poor form to put people in that situation in the first place. Mosh pits are the exception to this rule, you expect to be jammed in like a sardine in those. The last guideline is a more extreme version of this one.

If you’re going to flail and throw yourself around, fuck off to the back of the crowd where there’s space.

Same disclaimer as above, in that mosh pits are an exception to this. Most people are going to be flailing around in a pit, so whatever. But, if it’s not a mosh pit (and I can assure you, bands like The Tea Party, while being energetic enough to rock out to at times, do not have mosh pits), and you want to throw yourself around, then for fucks sake, please go to towards the back of the crowd where there’s room to do so without smashing into other people all the damn time. As I said, I’ll dance at these gigs, I’ll headbang, I’ll throw my hands up in the air in time to the music… but I make sure that I’m not hitting other people while I do that. I keep some basic fucking situational awareness. I don’t bloody well grab people in front of me by the shoulders and use them to help propel myself higher into the air while I’m leaping around, I don’t start launching myself at those around me in an attempt to chest bump them. It’s not cool, it’s not funny, you just look like a fucking arsehole, and there’s a good chance you’re going to hurt someone while you’re at it. I should know, I’ve had to drag myself out of crowds before because some idiot has thrown himself into the air and landed on me, or someone’s decided to start windmilling their arms and I’ve copped a fist to the face. I stay out of most mosh pits because I understand this is the sort of shit that happens in them (it does depend on the band to an extent, bands that encourage circle pits are ones I’ll avoid entirely, while I’ve never had issues with Doom Metal or Sludge Metal pits). But when I’m not in a pit, I don’t expect to have that kind of shit, because it’s not goddamn appropriate behaviour. So don’t do it, and if you must, go to the back of the crowd. Actually, that applies to some of the other stuff as well. You want to talk? Go where you’re not going to annoy other people.

Right, that’s about it from me. As I said, all of this advice can be boiled down to that one golden rule, which I’ll repeat here just to drive it home:

Don’t be a complete and utter fuck knuckle!

Seriously, I don’t think it’s a big thing to ask, but I still see this kind of behaviour at pretty much every gig I go to. Just try to have some commonsense and be a decent human being, that’s all I ask. Follow Wheaton’s Law, don’t be a dick.

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Anyway, I feel better after getting that off my chest, so I’m off to pass out until it’s time to get up and have my regular Saturday morning breakfast at the local bakery.

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For once, written without listening to anything, music or otherwise. While I love music, after a concert I sometimes just need some peace and quiet… plus with how my ears are ringing right now, I’d have to turn it up louder to hear it, and I think my neighbours would object given that it’s after 1:30 in the morning. 

As mentioned at the start, my next post will be about the Canberra International Film Festival, as will any others for the next few weeks. I also have a game of One Shot lined up to run soon, after which I’ll be reviewing the game and interviewing the designer. That’ll probably be in about four weeks time. 

3 thoughts on “Tinkergoth’s Guide to Concert Etiquette (Warning: Profanity)

    • Sorry ‘Liese, I didn’t realise you were a fan. Sounds like they’ll be back next year, I’ll keep an eye out for news and let you know. I felt a little ripped of this time by ticketek. Some mates and I got tickets soon as it was announced, nearly $90 with booking fees… then a week ago they put tickets on sale for $50. And they were around $70 on the door. Disappointing for the loyal fans who buy early, but I blame ticketek for that, not the band, and the show itself was amazing.

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