Cross Armed, Jaded, and the Disposition of the Modern Concert Going Audience…

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Earlier this week I went to Atlanta to see Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. It had been quite some time since I had ventured out into the world of live music. I don’t know why, honestly, but it probably had to do with the fact that where I’ve been living for the majority of the past few years going to a concert always seemed like a hassle. A real pain in the ass, if you will. Geographical locations are a real bitch sometimes. So, the fact that I actually committed to driving several hours in an exhausted state( I work over nights….Blahhh…)is a real testament to how much I wanted to see this band, but it wasn’t just the band for me. I wanted to re-experience live music again, There’s something about that charge you get from a good live performance that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up. The transference of energy from performer to audience is something I always really loved. I guess you would call it “vibes,” or something like that. A big part of what makes or brakes a show is the audience. A bad crowd can really bring down the experience, and sometimes leaves you wondering why some of these people came in the first place. Why make the trek out to the venue just to feign interest and pretend like it’s no big deal? I mean, yeah, it’s not a “big deal” in a larger sense, but at the very least, act like you want to be there. It’s not making you look “cool.”

Where to begin? Well, might as well just skip to when I was let in to the actual venue(The Masqerade). I’ll spare you the travel details, and how my cohorts and I arrived way too early and had to lurk around for around three hours. It’s not as exciting as it sounds. Trust me. Anyways, moving on… Upon entering the venue the first thing I noticed was the eclectic group of folks that had come to see B.R.M.C. This was actually pretty cool to see. It was an all ages show, and the ages of the attendees ran the gamut, but age wasn’t the only point of disparity. It was filled with the hippest of hipsters, the most european of Europeans, the nerdiest of nerds, and the awkwardest of the awkward. Seriously, it was pretty odd to see these all these different sub-groups all in one place. If a fire were to have started and we were all burned to death the headline might of read “The Most Culturally Aware Death Toll In Recent Memory.”

So, we were let it in about an hour before the first band took the stage. Which was great, because one of my favorite past times is hurrying up to wait. So, you know, it worked out pretty well for me. My feet kind of disagreed, but my feet are assholes more often than not, so, they aren’t all that reliable. It’s almost as if they are smelly, cranky old men that can’t be bothered to do anything. “When are you going to lay down already?” My feet hurt. You know what I’m saying.bert-sweaty-not-always-sexy--large-msg-121356132481 During this time I took the opportunity to engage in some good old fashioned people watching. Honestly, this was less of a choice and more of a necessity,  because no matter where I turned people would literally just shove themselves into my face. The weirdest part about this was that it wasn’t really all that full yet, and there were smatterings of people all the way to the stage area, but sure enough, people still managed to bump into me every few seconds, or so it seemed anyways. I don’t know, maybe it’s a southern thing. I’m not originally from here(I’m from Massachusetts), but the concept of “the personal bubble” seems to be lost on a lot of folks in this part of the cesspool. The silver lining in this cloud was that it was at least early on in the evening before the inevitable stink of B.O. was on some of these people. There is maybe nothing grosser(Except for maybe this.) than when someone with “the stank” on them rubs up against you and makes you an unwitting accomplice in spreading their “smell bad” disease. Seriously, just wear deodorant. If you could afford a ticket to the show, I’m sure a trip to the dollar store to pick up some of this “smell good” product isn’t too much to ask. You smelly bastards…. And ladies, of course.

One of the things that immediately came to my attention was that I am really out of touch with modern fashion trends. I guess I don’t watch enough TV. I mean, I don’t even have a tertiary awareness of any of it. It was all sort of alien to me. Honestly, I don’t really care about any of this stuff, but it kind of makes me laugh to myself when I see large groups of people all dressed the same while at the same time trying to strike out a path of “uniqueness.” I may be just a weirdo, though. Maybe it’s me. I’m probably engaging in the same type of behavior just at the opposite end of the spectrum. I have a certain amount of unfair disdain for pop-culture trends. Whether it’s fashion, music, or a particular genre of movie, I tend to be turned off at the idea of “popular.” I don’t think I’m entirely wrong, though. The Jersey Shore, and other shows of the same ilk were at one time pop-culture phenomenons, and I have no interest in that stuff, so, yeah, whatever…

By the time the first band finished it’s set I noticed something that I found particularly annoying. Whether people were in the back by the bar area, or up front and center in the stage are, you know, in front of the band, I sensed this great feeling of apathy coming from the audience. They just stood there like a bunch of grumpy old men “This music does not sit well, and I have to poop,”Grumpy-old-man and I think that’s bull shit, honestly. Especially, if you’re making the effort to go over to the stage area. At the end of each song that was played by one of the opening acts the groups were met with a small smattering applause, and a still crowd. Now, I understand that we were all there to see B.R.M.C, but at least clap like you give a shit, if only as a courtesy. Speaking as someone who was in a small local band, it’s a real downer as a performer when people actively show how little they care about you, and can even sometimes adversely effect the performance.  There is a spirit of fun that is supposed to exist when one goes to see live music, and to see people curb stomping that spirit is kind of sad to see. Respect the event that you’re at, and have a good time, I guess is what I’m saying. You have all this other time in your life to carry on with you’re shitty jaded and apathetic attitude. Have a heart. However bad form I thought this was, surely, it wouldn’t hold over to the main attraction….

GOD DAMMIT! God dammit it all. I expected the audience to “give” a little more once B.R.M.C took the stage, but boy was I wrong. Sure, there were more people in the stage area, but most folks there could barely be bothered to even bop their heads. Remember back when I was talking about the threat of B.O? Well, that’s not something I was going to have to worry about with this audience. Seriously, one of stillest groups I’ve been in. Maybe ever, and with my history of local music that’s saying something, let me tell ya. The most egregious offenders were the people that were on their cell phones for almost the entire performance.Taking-Photos-With-Your-Cell-Phone-At-Concert They had made the effort to move up towards the front of the stage just to take pictures, record clips, and then post them to Facebook and Twitter. Really? There was an older “hip” couple(Old enough to fucking know better too.) standing near me, and they did this for the entire two hour set. They were paying more attention to their phones and social media than the music. The irony of this is that they were probably posting about said band.  The logic behind why this is “rude” is pretty much the same logic attributed to people texting in a movie theater. It’s distracting,  and more than a few times during the show I would be fully present and really getting into the music(Crazy, right?) just to have a phone shoved in front of my face. Listen, I understand that someone might want to take a picture, or maybe record some of their favorite song, but engaging in this rude asshole behavior for the entirety of a concert sucks. It’s not just your fellow concert goers that you should have consideration for, but also the band performing. I would make the assumption that flashes and cell phone lights would be distracting to them as well when they’re trying to get into their own music.

The worst part of these types of audiences is that they make it less special. Less of an event. What are they intending to do with a concert filmed on their phones. Put it up on YouTube? How many times have you gone on YouTube looking for some live performances and decided that the clips taken off of someones phone, shitty audio and blurry picture, were the ones you were going to watch? I don’t know about you, but that’s my favorite! What’s the point of going to a show if you’re not really going to watch it? Oh, I get it. You’ll watch it later on a 5 inch screen while taking a shit.

So, how was the actual show? Pretty great, actually. Even though they didn’t really interact with the audience a whole lot, they seemed to be having a good time, and they tried their best to impart that energy to the crowd. They definitely have the ere of a band that are consummate professionals and were there to do “a job,” but even having said that, they totally delivered on all my hopes for the show. It was a pretty long set, almost two hours, and they never let up the entire time. They seemed really humble and unassuming, which was refreshing, in a weird sort of way. It’s nice to see a “bigger” band legitimately happy to see so many people come to enjoy their music. They performed as a three piece, but nothing suffered because of it. It was a really great “rock n’ roll” show.

All in all, I really hope my experience isn’t totally indicative of the concert going experience, because if it is I definitely will lose a lot of interest in going to more in the near future. Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m just a grumpy old shit. I mean, I’m only twenty six, but I am kind of a curmudgeon when it comes to things like being considerate, and general manners. Well, might as well go look up some of that surely fantastic cell phone footage from the show!

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I'm starting this blog in an effort to become a better writer, and thinker.

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3 comments on “Cross Armed, Jaded, and the Disposition of the Modern Concert Going Audience…
  1. People seem to be more in love with the idea of being at a concert than actually being there to enjoy the music. I went to see Regina Spektor in Boston a year or so ago, and the fucking people there were so excited to turn around and take photos of themselves with Ms. Spektor performing as a background, it was driving me insane.

    I forget who it was, but I remember someone commenting on this phenomenon. It was something to the effect of, “I can’t wait permanently remind myself of how I robbed myself of this great experience by spending the whole time taking pictures so I would remember it.”

    In short – holy shit do I agree with you, this drives me insane.

    • shaundeegan says:

      I know! It’s incredible! If you’re there, then be there! I was talking to someone recently about this phenomenon, and they made the observation that people don’t go to concerts to have an “experience,” but rather just to tell people that they went. It’s a real bummer.

      Thanks for giving this a read, by the way. I always get a little boost of encouragement to keep writing when you do! Also, I check yours all the time, and you haven’t updated in a bit. What gives, dog!? Hahaha!

  2. […] I took my little sister to one of their concerts a few years ago(I even wrote about it.) It was her first concert, and it felt really nice to facilitate and share that experience, warts […]

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