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Where is the courtesy when attending concerts?

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My Views

By Stephen Thomas

 Depending on your musical tastes, there are many styles of live concerts. Most people today would likely think of Rock or Country music as I mention the word ‘concert’.

But there are so many other types, like the many free Bluegrass events held in Bullitt County. 

There are Gospel events, Jazz and Reggae festivals, Broadway shows, Blues jams and orchestral concerts featuring classical music or even opera.

To me, a good show is a good show, no matter what type. A good Rock concert is a good concert. A good choir concert is a good concert.

Over the years I’ve attended many shows, involving all the above genres. Admittedly most of them have leaned toward Rock. But as I’ve continued adding to my experiences this year, and continue to age, I’ve noticed something more recently that I didn’t used to. I’ll refer to it as concert etiquette.

There are certain styles to each concert for the audience as well as the band. For example, you don’t hold up lighters at the orchestra, nor does the bandleader pump a fist and shout, “Alright Shepherdsville!”

At Rock shows it’s okay to get up and dance or sing along. Same with country, though boots and a cowboy hat are preferred. At a Jazz show you just kind of observe. At a Bluegrass event you’re encouraged to bring your own instrument and jump in.

None of these above things are required of the audience. You can sit at a Rock show, you can dance at a Jazz show, and you need not play to enjoy the Bluegrass.

But there are other types of etiquette, like unwritten rules in baseball, that one would assume everyone would follow. However, one, i.e. me, tends to assume incorrectly.

For example: A concert consists of audience members sitting side-by-side in close proximity. It is not required, but would be nice, to at least smell decent.

I don’t necessarily mean body odor. At a Rock show you’ll likely sweat. I also refer to the oderiferous animation of cologne and/or perfume overdose. Much worse, cheap cologne and/or overdose.

At a recent show I had a cheap cologne overdose leaning on me, someone who liked to pump his fist and shout every 15 seconds. The fist up made it worse than the fist down.

It is more common at Rock or Country shows for an audience member to partake in the available alcoholic beverages. A tipsy audience member is sometimes an added portion of the entertainment.

Unfortunately, the imbibed members soon take it upon themselves to try and become a part of the show you paid for. This is a red flag.

At a recent Blues concert, a person feeling way too good for the Blues, or to stand up straight, decided to yell in response to everything the singer was saying. Nobody paid to hear that.

At the same concert, during what was the singer’s most inspirational moment, with a slow down leading into a very beautiful song, a man directly behind me took a phone call.

Technology has changed the concert experience, and to my flabbergasted surprise it has become a negative change.

No one should take calls and have conversations in the middle of the audience during a concert. Turn the phone off.

If it’s an emergency where you need to have the phone on - well, if it’s an emergency then why are you even there? - then switch it to vibrate. And if you must take a call, walk away from the other audience members who are there to hear what’s on stage, not about your father’s bad back.

This brings me to my other technological piece of advice: Please just watch the show! You’ve paid for the experience of the show when someone else did not. Why do you care so much to record and share with those who chose not to go?

Example: At a recent Rock concert the band begins to play their most famous song, drawing a large amount of cheering and clapping from the audience.

Ten seconds later, a majority of the audience grows silent and begins to fall sideways. Ten more seconds and I can’t see the stage over the wave of pocket-sized technology capturing the moment for unfocused and shaky posterity.

Cameras and cell phones and other types of mechanical implementation pointed toward the stage. Why? I can understand a fan taking an occasional moment as a memory of the fun. I can’t understand someone paying good money to spend the entire night trying to photograph or record rather than enjoy.

First of all, both pictures and recording could be illegal and not allowed by the band or the venue, resulting in removal from the concert, which is a stupid thing for you to do if you paid to be there.

Many of these photos and recordings will appear online via YouTube or Facebook, with people telling whoever will listen to them that they saw this and here’s what you missed.

Of course they missed it! If they didn’t want to miss it they would’ve gone to show to see it! Why do you try to force them to see what they didn’t want to see in the first place?

There’s a little thing my parents taught me called common courtesy. I try. In the days of technological advancement, with less face time between humanoids, I believe this is becoming a lost art. Either that or I’m finally turning old.

At a concert there is plenty of room for common courtesy. You don’t spill drinks on others. You apologize if you do. You don’t hold signs or cameras for an hour in front of someone else. You try to let short person or children have a view of the stage if they are behind you.

It may not seem like much, but it sure seems like this used to happen more at concerts. Now no one seems to care about doing anything but holding a device in front of me for the best parts of a show so someone else who doesn’t care can watch it rather than me, who has paid money to see it.