In these times of five quid venue beers and ticket prices being pushed upwards as record sales drop, it is increasingly important for gigging bands to provide a unique and engaging experience for fans.
Many rise to the challenge, be that by micro managing concerts or balls-out rocking to a roster of crowd requests. However, the fans have to play their part, and some just don’t seem to get it. Instead they appear to believe that, like them, everyone else has paid a sum total of 40-50 pounds for a night in which the band is just background noise. They’re there to party, and to have fun, not to watch a performance, or even pay attention, and God forbid anyone else should get in their way.
Admittedly, if you jump into the middle of a circle pit during a mad, ska-punk frenzy, it’s as much about immersing yourself in the sweat and the rhythm and the volume and the pounding nearness of other humans, but that is only one part of the tableau. There are also times when it is about listening to what the artist has to say, and if you have some pissed up idiot shouting “LEGEND” through a never-before-played-live rarity, then it turns what should be a beautiful experience into a very bad experience.
To those who insist on speaking throughout the concert, bear in mind the people shushing you are not missing out on the rock-n-roll factor your own life is so full of, they are simply attempting to do what they came along to do.
If you want to scream coherently, find a club with some drugs and a DJ, if you want to loudly extol the finer points of each and every song, buy the record and take it home to bore your housemates/girlfriend/boyfriend/cat (this last most likely), if you just want to jump about and punch your friends, get some cider and a dark basement.
Granted, gigs are about the crowd-artist interaction, but interaction is a two-way street, and if you’re not aware of the people on the stage, you can’t interact with them, in much the same way that the sad eyed girls* on the websites you look at every lonely night are not interacting with you.
Also bear in mind that continuously commenting on how fit the bird playing the piano is, or shouting at her to ‘get it off’, does not constitute either a chat-up line or a valid piece of participation, it’s not even at the level of ‘banter’. Nor does wanting to kick off, simply because someone else wants to watch the band, constitute some form of crowd spirit.
If this is really all you want from your night, why shell out the cost of a ticket and earmark a specific date. Why not just go down the pub on a Saturday night and neck a few Stellas with the local covers combo. At this venue, at this time, people have chosen to watch this specific band. Sure, they may jump around, and shout, and punch, and sing along in an off-key way, but generally these moments are generated through a kind of unspoken consensus that permeates the large majority of what normal gig-goers would recognise as fans.
Frankly, if you can’t tell the difference between a mosh-pit banger and an intimate acoustic moment, you probably can’t tell the difference between a crowd-surfer to the head and the lobotomy you undoubtedly deserve.
We all know why we’re here, but not why you are, and I’m pretty sure you may be wondering yourself. Now quiet, please, this one’s my favourite.
*I apologise if this seems to be aimed more at men than women, but generally they are the prime offenders. Girls, if I’ve offended you by saying you’re not offensive enough, then I’ve probably confused you as much as I have myself just now by writing that sentence.
[This post, while an agglomeration of many past experiences, was inspired by idiots at Shepherd’s Bush on Monday night, where regardless of idiots in the crowd (of which they were probably oblivious) the Airborne Toxic Event, played a blistering gig, as they always do, and showed once and for all their own true ability to engage with the crowd. Much as they have every time I’ve seen them.
By contrast, the following day at a tiny Dan le Sac vs Scroobius Pip instore, an child who couldn’t be more than 5/6 actually proved herself to be a) better behaved; and b) more interesting and engaging than men 5 or six times her age.]