Concert etiquette

By Jenna Ethridge
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Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

While concerts are a great place to have fun, it can be hard to enjoy yourself sometimes when dealing with hundreds, or even thousands, of other people. Within my fairly short lifetime, I have attended more than 80 concerts and still find myself complaining, “People need to take a concert etiquette course!”

Here are 10 “rules” to follow while at a concert to ensure maximum enjoyment for yourself and those around you.

1Don’t talk during the opening act.

Though most people attend concerts for the headliner, I have discovered some of my favorite artists while they were opening on tour with bigger names. In January of 2015, I saw Maudlin Strangers open for Bad Suns at the El Rey Theatre; I then saw them again on their first headlining tour in July later that year. Even if an opener doesn’t particularly interest you, it is courteous to the artist and audience that you remain quiet and engaged.

2Don’t push your way to the front.

As someone with anxiety, I feel most comfortable towards the front of a stage and out of the way of the mosh pit; when people start pushing from behind to fill in what little space is available, that security is taken away from me. It’s also quite distracting during a set to be constantly repositioning yourself to let others pass by. Not to mention, people are let in by their place in line, so pushing your way to the front defeats the purpose and demeans those who had been waiting for longer.

3If you’re short and can’t see behind taller people, show up early.

I have been known to wait outside of a venue for upwards of 13 hours to get barricade and be as close as possible to my favorite artists. As a person who stands at over six feet, I am aware that I can become an unavoidable blockade to those shorter than me, often resulting in passive-aggressive insults spoken just loud enough for me to hear and instantly feel guilty. If you know that you are going to struggle seeing the stage, I highly advise arriving to the venue at least an hour early.

4Don’t get drunk and throw up in the middle of the pit.

If you’re at a 21 and over concert that serves alcohol, be mindful of how much you consume! When I saw Hoodie Allen at The Wiltern in November of 2014, an obviously intoxicated woman in the pit threw up before the show even started, causing me and many others to seek refuge further back. It’s also not very enjoyable to have beer spilt on you throughout the night and your shoes sticking to the floor beneath your feet.

5Don’t shout at the act on stage in-between songs.

While applause after a song is expected and appreciated, obnoxiously shouting at an artist between songs is not. Although it’s nice to get an artist’s attention during a set and share a moment, wait until afterwards and try to meet them instead! A man next to me at Outside Lands this summer persistently shouted at Mac Demarco to sign his shirt throughout the entire set, resulting in those around him to quickly become frustrated and Demarco to leave the stage without acknowledging him. A stage is for performing, not a meet and greet!

6Get off your phone.

More frequently than ever, artists are discouraging their audiences to record and take pictures on their phones while at a live show. Phones not only obstruct the view of those behind you, but an artist performing doesn’t want to look out into a sea of phones and lights. Though you might feel the urge to record a song and eternalize it by posting it on social media, I can assure you that your strongest memories will be of those in which you were present and disconnected from technology.

7Look out for one another.

Concerts can be dangerous for a variety of reasons: they’re usually a large gathering of people in a confined space that becomes extremely warm and lack immediate accessibility to food or water. For these reasons, it is crucial that people look out for one another. When I saw The Garden last year at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley, I was so dehydrated that as soon as the rowdy moshing began, I passed out. Thankfully, a kind man helped me out of the pit and got me help at the medical tent on site. Be sure to take care of yourselves, but the people around you, as well.

8Remember personal space.

Although concerts are naturally crowded, it’s easy to leave a couple of inches between you and those surrounding you. It’s hard to enjoy a show when there are arms draped over your shoulders, knees buckling into your own, hot breath on your neck and sweaty bodies coming into contact with yours. While it sounds easy to ask someone to kindly give you some space, you’d be surprised as to how little people care to fix the problem if it isn’t bothering them. Next time you’re at a show, be conscious of your surroundings and try to respect other people’s personal bubbles.

9Respect the rules.

Whether it be no outside food, no smoking or no crowd-surfing: respect the rules! You shouldn’t feel the need to give the security guards a hard time, as it is their job to enforce the rules, not make them. There is nothing worse than a security guard standing in front of the barricade, shining their flashlights on people and trying to get them to stop whatever they’re doing. Venues have varying rules that differ from one another, so just be aware before you go and remember that they’re made to protect you.

10Have fun!

The most important “rule” to follow at a concert is have fun! Artists feed off of the energy provided by an audience, so don’t be afraid to sing, smile and dance! Don’t waste your night standing against the wall with your arms crossed, as if you’re too cool to be there. Concerts are a great way to let loose and make memories, so make sure they’re positive!

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