I used to basically live in clubs and bars from my mid teens through my mid 20s. My hearing is wrecked from way too many live and loud bands (thanks Big Drag for finishing off my ears Halloween of 1995). I have always been very aware of my surroundings at shows. Even in my teens I understood there was an unwritten etiquette of behavior at various venues. Lately (ok, the last 10 years or so), I’ve become ornery and intolerant of kids or meat-heads at shows that don’t follow proper show etiquette. So, I’ve compiled a list of rules when going to see a live band. Some are over-the-top dream rules, but most are very followable and just make sense. Common sense.
- If you don’t plan on dancing or moving around, move to the back or expect to be jostled.
- Please don’t stand right in front of a dancing girl with your feet set and your arms crossed, not smiling … at a DRUMS SHOW no less!!! Where dancing is expected.
- Are you tall? Then don’t wear weird head gear that makes you taller and then stand in front of short girls. Be respectful. Be self aware.
- No moshing or dancing to purposely bump into people. It’s not 1989 anymore and you probably weren’t even born by then. Moshing and aggression is over. Plus, no show I’d be at now would require moshing, so this should be a non-point.
- At an acoustic show? Don’t talk at more than a whisper, please. (Saw Will Oldham at the Knitting Factory in NYC. You could hear a pin drop. Bartenders were barely opening beer bottles. It was perfect.)
- Don’t make fun of the band you are watching so everyone can hear. Don’t like them? Don’t pay attention or better yet, leave. (Yeah, I’m talking to YOU, you assholes making fun of the adorable Josh Rouse. Way to goad a very pregnant woman into having a fit at her last live show for a year! Grrrr!)
- At sparse shows, spread out. But get to the front if you can. Makes the band feel welcome. Don’t stand directly in front of the 5’4” girl unless you are 5’3” or less. There’s space around you. Use it.
- Buy merch if you can. It helps the band.
- I’m older than you, I get the choice spot. You have to EARN IT, whippersnapper!
- If the show is only $5. Don’t ask to be on the guest list. That’s just silly. The collective $5 from everyone in the crowd will really help out a traveling band more than having that $5 in your pocket will help you.
- Don’t brag about being on the guest list … especially at a $5 show. Again, silly. We’re all adults. If you can’t afford to go to a show, don’t go. Guest lists are for the under 25 set and hard-to-get-into shows where knowing someone assures a space or for times when you truly can’t afford it, you really feel you must attend, and someone close to you can hook you up. Always return the favor.
- Always say excuse me when pushing through a crowd. And smile.
- Clap at the end of songs, at the very least. Be nice so the band will come back. It’s the polite thing to do.
Oh, Josh Rouse, the perfect amount of mushy cheese to keep a pregnant woman sane and calm.
I have a whole other set of rules if you are at a festival, but since I hate festivals and haven’t been to one since a Lollapolooza in the 90s, I’ll refrain.
Do you have other rules and/or tips for seeing live bands at an advanced age in order to make it more pleasant? Leave it in the comments. I’m always open to suggestions.