Archive for February 2012

Concert Etiquette

February 25, 2012

Last night, some friends and I went to a G-Love and the Special Sauce concert at the Fillmore in San Francisco. This is a great concert hall that’s hosted the likes of Led Zeppelin, Janis Joplin, CCR, Pink Floyd, and The Black Crowes, just to name a few. When you walk in and head up the stairs, there are thousands of pictures of the acts that have played the venue.

Walking into the actual concert hall is an impressive sight as well. The stage is set on the far side of the auditorium, there is a bar to the left, some very limited table/seating places to the far right, and the rest of the area is all standing room. The majority of the floor is hardwood, with some carpeted areas around the bar area. It is a very well laid-out area and very spacious; a great place for a good show.

Last night, the show was sold out (which means we all got a cool poster when leaving the auditorium). The three of us arrived fairly early and were able to get pretty close to the stage, about 5 to 6 people deep. We, and all the people around us were having a really good time dancing and chatting, until the end of the opening act’s set.

The opening act was a solo act by the name of Scott H. Biram, who describes himself as a one-man band (and is absolutely fantastic! If you get the chance, you should check him out!). He’s based out of Austin, TX and plays a very Texas-influenced style of blues/rock. There was a group of folks a little to the right that were very into the idea of Texas and were dancing and, at times, acting a bit rowdy. They were taking up a fair amount of room with their dancing and, more than once, bumped into several people in a more-than-gentle manner. This caused one girl to yell at her boyfriend/fiance/significant-other for not stepping in and stopping those folks from bumping into her as they danced. She yelled at the gentleman she was with as they pushed their way through the crowd to find more room to enjoy the show. This was the beginning of the tension that I felt continuously through the crowd during the show.

Shortly after this woman and her companion pushed their way past us, a gentleman who had been dancing with the more rowdy crowd jumped in front of me and started dancing. He stepped on my toes a few times, but I really didn’t mind all that much. I’m more than used to going to concert and understand that people want to dance and that toes will accidentally stepped on. I would have preferred that he had apologized, given that he noticed he stepped on my toes, but he didn’t seem to notice and continued to dance rather wildly.

The problem with this guy dancing like that was that he was bumping into the people that had been standing in front of me. These folks had been more than friendly with my friends and myself, offering me whisky on more than one occasion (which, of course, I turned down because I was the DD and more importantly have given up booze for Lent), and talking about upcoming concerts and what venues they will be taking place in. However, they were not very appreciative of this gentleman’s dancing, to say the least. After the opening act finished up his set, one of the men turned around and confronted the guy who had jumped in between us and started dancing. They were jawing back and forth for about five minutes before the one that had been dancing decided he was greatly outnumbered and left.

Everyone around us continued to badmouth him after he left with phrases like, “Can you believe that sh**?!” or “What was WITH that @$$h***?!” Our neighbors were not pleased with his performance at all.

Tensions continued to rise throughout the night as people tried to move up towards the stage. Our neighbors decided that this was not fair and formed somewhat of a blockade. When people would try to cut through, they would virtually lock shoulders and form a wall that wouldn’t let even the smallest of females through. This often led to minor conflicts that would include yelling and tense body language. There was a small, tattooed girl that tried to push through and the gentlemen in front of me simply would not allow it. There was much yelling and cursing and at one point I thought one of the men’s companions was going to slap the tattooed woman. I was very wary of what was going on and ready to try and break up a fight if needs be.

These kind of interactions never really ceased throughout the concert. People were way intense about what was their spot and that they should never have to give it up. “I got here at the right time and I shouldn’t have to give up my or concede any area in front of me to you!” was the mantra of the night. This even happened with people that had been up front but had to go to the restroom or went to get another drink. They were just trying to get back to their parties, not cut in front of you, buddy.

I find all these interactions a bit disturbing. Call me a hippy, but concerts are supposed to be a time of fun and relaxation. People shouldn’t be at a concert with attitudes that have such high levels of aggressiveness or tension. I can agree that we got their early and therefore we, by logic, should have the closer standing room to the stage, but you don’t have to yell at every person that tries to push their way forward. Those people paid for their ticket as well, and yes, they should have made plans to arrive earlier, but they’re just trying to get a better view. Can you blame them for that?

I think that when we’re at a concert, we really need to focus on why we’re there. Ultimately, we need to be listening to the music instead of worrying about our standing space. We don’t need to approach our neighbors with aggression. Instead, if someone is bothering you, just point it out to them in a calm manner. There have been times when I’ve had to turn to someone to tell them to mind where they’re stepping, and more often than not, when I say it in a friendly manner, they’re more than happy to oblige. I’m often greeted with an, “Oh! Sorry, man!” and they back off. The last thing I want to do is get in a fight at a concert. I don’t want to get hurt, be kicked out by a much larger bouncer, or go to jail. I really don’t want to hurt anyone else, either.

I just wish that everyone else had that same attitude going into a show.