In Defense Of: Bad Gig Etiquette


As passionate music lovers, there are certain topics which really rile us. Some of us get on our soap boxes every time we hear about paid ‘meet and greets’; others are left foaming at the mouth at the sheer utterance of “touts”. All of us get angry about something. However, perhaps it’s time that we calmed down a little. Every so often, Alt Scribe is going to tackle a common nuisance and try to justify it. We’ll still ranting about some rucks but sometimes we think it’s healthier to let go of our pet peeves.

Bad gig etiquette annoys us all – it’s a fact. It’s such a hot topic to get musos’ blood boiling that almost every website and magazine has provided their own guide to combat it at some point. Everyone has blogged about it during their writing career, but is it starting to get a little boring?

We’ve all been at gigs where we’ve suffered standing next to someone muttering about what they had for dinner, and we’ve all glared at security in the hope they give them the stern warning you’re too scared to give but is our strict rulebook making us the worst gig-goers of them all? We all have anecdotes about shows “ruined” by poor behaviour, but are other people’s experiences being “ruined” by the rules too?

Strict social guidelines about how to behave at gigs are almost becoming oppressive. If you dare to take a photo, you risk melodramatic flinches from fun sponges. It’s an even greater crime if you use your smart phone as your camera, apparently. Let’s just hope you’re not selfishly tall. According to the people who matter, anyone over six feet tall shouldn’t be allowed in the standing area and especially not anywhere near the front. In fact, all tall people should be penned together – right at the back, because they can see over everyone anyway.

Our rule making is not just getting boring, it’s getting silly too. Us bloggers and “real music” fans don’t realise what we’re doing while sat on our high horses and dictating how the little men (well, the tall people actually) should enjoy themselves. We mean well, but we’re being mean. Once you’ve stood in a crowd and witnessed somebody whine about people “dancing unnecessarily”, or seen a main act threaten to walk off stage if there is one solitary camera flash, you’ll start to wonder if we’ve created a monster. Sure, when you spot somebody on the barrier cooing at cats on Tumblr while the band is on stage (true story!), you’ll be convinced that there must be a special place in hell for all smartphone owners but when you begin to fear that you’re not allowed to take a quick snap or peek at your viciously vibrating mobile, you’ll start to regret the rules you’ve been spouting.

Of course, nobody likes hecklers, beer-spillers or serial social media sharers but are they really worth the raised blood pressure? Probably not.

People will take photos. People will hold up their phone to share the moment with a friend.  People will be annoying – at gigs, or elsewhere. All of these are ok, in moderation.

The only thing we can do to make gigs a better place is to relax, be on our own best behaviour and enjoy the music. Let’s not ruin people’s enjoyment with arbitrary rules. People shouldn’t need a guide book for having fun and if they do, they’ll never have fun anyway.

There is only one exception – there is no excuse for using an iPad, ever. Or looking at cute kittens. (Ok, there are two exceptions).

Amy Jo McLellan
Amy Jo McLellan is the editor of Alt Scribe. She started writing about music in 2010 and has been dancing about architecture ever since. She became a featured blogger for Buzznet after winning their 2011 ‘Summer of Buzz’ talent search. Amy knows far too much about her favourite bands and describes herself as a “professional fangirl”. CURRENTLY LISTENING TO: Kids In Glass Houses, Dawes. SPECIALIST SUBJECT: The rise and fall of 'Emo' 2006 - Now.

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