time to change the way we view music and the arts

I’m late I’m late – for a very important date

No, I’m not going to shout “off with their heads!” and this post is not about talking rabbits with giant pocket watches, courtesy of Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland.”

However, today is quite the day about time and beginnings and endings, wouldn’t you agree?

The beginning of Daylight Savings Time (I did not in fact take advantage of that extra hour of sleep. Kind of regretting it.)
The ending of sunsets after 17:00. (aka 5:00PM)
The slow start of people using the phrase “holiday season…” (Just heard it on the radio this morning actually.)

With the rise of these lovely occurrences, I felt inspired to enlighten the blog with a lighter topic on the subject of tardiness, timeliness and the musical arts. Seeing as my last post was somewhat on the more serious and collegiate side of things, I think the rock band in the back wants to let loose some casual conversation and spill…erhm, I mean, pour, a good round of drinks for themselves and everyone in the room right about now. I don’t blame them. Perhaps I’ve been behind the ball on addressing the frantic and or pushy, and or drunken elephant in the corner.

The elephant I’m talking about, is concert etiquette. More specifically, as it relates to making it in the door before the curtain goes up or the first drum stick strikes. I’m thinking maybe you were expecting the quiet aristocrat sitting over at the bar’s end to raise a glass to this topic, but here’s what you might not have stopped to often contemplate:

There is just as much passive aggressive (or sometimes just plain aggressive) resentment for late arrivals to that sold out show at Jones Beach as there is for the last showing of the Franco Zifferelli’s production of “La Boheme” with The Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center.

Sure, different venues around the country and around the world have their own ways of dealing with a late arrival, but the sticking point here is that there is judgment rained down upon these unpunctual people. Without going too much into the other aspects of etiquette, allow me to share with you a cleverly constructed list of things that the rock band in the back says they hate to have happen while trying to put on a solid show. Mind you, a lot of this isn’t about being on time, but there is some sage wisdom in part of this fan’s/writer’s first statement:

“…if you are standing near the front at a general admission show and you decide to get another drink right as the headliner comes on, do not, under any circumstances, act like you have a right to slosh ‘n’ spill your way right back to where you were. You made the conscious decision that booze was more important than being in a choice spot to see the band; deal with it. At a general admission show, if there’s open space, people have a right to take it and you have a right to go fuck yourself if you don’t like it.”

Cit. The Bollocks! Guide to Rock Concert Etiquette

Pardon the profanity. I do try to keep a standard of universal decorum here. We’re mature music lovers though, aren’t we? Anyway, the punchy correlation here, with that excerpt, deals with two of my own observations of this hypothetical scenario:

1) You arrived early to this general admission show to get that spot right by the stage to see ______ band. That’s awesome!
2) WHY, would you then give up the investment of that pre-meditated early entrance for a single drink?! That’s like throwing time out the window and throwing yourself right to back of the room behind the really tall guy and his two bodyguard looking buddies. I hope that is the best alcohol you’ve ever had.

Sorry, that last one is just my own personal feelings getting in the way.

One might think shoving your way to a prime space of concert viewing real estate, even after your friend’s car got stuck in traffic because he had to stop for gas, after putting it off all week, falls under the jurisdiction of “anything goes, I’ll do what I want, it’s a rock concert.” Let’s get something out on the table though. Just because the room might be louder before the show and just because people might become a little deafer after the show, that doesn’t mean they are blind during the show and won’t see you trying to force your way to the spot you want. The looseness, which no seating inevitably fosters, doesn’t equate to people letting you take what isn’t currently yours. That being a person’s individual airspace. If anything, an excited standing fan will be at more liberty in these environments, to at least give you a discreet but painful elbow to the ribs in response to your trying to muscle them out. So don’t let “casual atmosphere” translate to “casual manners.” Yes, I understand it’s a bit of a cultural thing. Rock concert etiquette takes a bit of getting used to and yes, a bit of trial and error experience as you go to more shows and more kinds of shows. Regardless, my last statement functions well as a rule of thumb.

And as a way to slightly garnish the drink our aristocrat could have raised, here’s an analogous and all-too-common situation I’m sure they don’t like dealing with any more than the ‘timely headbanger’ does:

“The staff of the venue will appreciate those considerate enough to arrive early; will call and ticket stations are often packed with stragglers arriving just a few minutes before the start of a show, making for long lines of impatient, stressed concertgoers and event staff.”

Cit. Jukebox Alive

Of course, if we were talking about a generally mosh pit, violence-prone, bone crushing show for a band like, “Lamb of God” or “Hatebreed,” I would simply advise against the front of the room, back of the room or any of the room -for overall assurance of your physical safety, at all times, unless you have great medical insurance or are impervious to damage.

It’s called the “Wall of Death.”

I may come back to the topic of concert etiquette in the future, as I said I was only focusing on punctuality. So consider this a beginning installment. 😉

2 Responses to “I’m late I’m late – for a very important date”

  1. Anonymous

    A very eloquent way of encouraging common sense, adult behavior that some just ignore in narcissistic attitudes. Courtesy is after all so ancient of a concept.

  2. Foment

    Looks like I’m a tad late to the party here but, I think some of this is perfectly spot on.

    I go to a lot of festival or bar shows so the argument in favor of punctuality is a bit impractical at times, and is far from the norm at these shows.

    However there is definitely a lot to concert etiquette that just gets ignored by a minority of fans. That minority is unfortunately a consistently frustrating one.


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