Concert etiquette and being prepared for shows

You’re standing there, knees weak, feet trembling, bracing yourself for what is about to come.  Your eyes wander, waiting with countless others.  Sweat rolls down your back as you’re struggling to stay cool, when suddenly, the lights cut out.  Illumination exits, and darkness fills your retinas, you hear a roar.  Your stomach flutters with butterflies and you cannot wait much longer.  It is time to celebrate, and forget all your troubles in the world.  Your moment of bliss is about to culminate.  Clarity is brought upon your eyes and you see your favorite artist on stage, mere feet from you.  This is a momentous occasion for anyone who witnesses a live concert.  The experience is euphoric.  Even though you may feel a rush of excitement most of the evening, there may be problems that can occur throughout the evening that make you question why you went in the first place.  Others may discourage or hinder your perfect time at a concert.  Even if you go to numerous concerts, there is a possibility that something ill will happen.

Different things happen at different genres of music, whether it’s an aggressive, loud concert, or a soft, acoustic show.  There are numerous genres of music out there and without experience, one may not be ready for what is about to happen.  Is electronic music more your forte?  What about hip-hop?  Or is hardcore rock music more to your liking?  Whatever the case may be, you want to be ready for any dilemma or anything that is bound to cause a stir.

Katrina Hull is a fan of hip-hop shows and has been going to them for two and a half years.  Hull believes that one should dress comfortably and keep a positive attitude when attending one of these shows.  “You can’t really go to a show in a bad mood, because other people will probably sense that vibe and it might turn out to be a negative situation,” said Hull.  “Others may sense your bad attitude and you may rub them the wrong way.”  Manners are not the only thing that are different at these types of shows.  Illegal substances and physical altercations might happen as well.  Even legal substances aren’t the best things to have at hip-hop shows.  “I know alcohol is always at shows, but I believe that it’s more abused at these types of concerts,” said Hull.  “It makes people act out more than they normally do.”  Brawls may happen due to drunk attendees, but that doesn’t mean bad things will always occur.  “I have nothing against it, due to the fact that everyone usually does drink and many act appropriately,” said Hull.  Line cutters and people pushing their way to the front might also cause confrontation.  “It’s very disrespectful and annoying, but some people just want to get to the front and will do anything in their power to shove and push through,” said Hull.  “They should just learn that it’s not okay to be doing things that they wouldn’t want others to do to them.  If it’s not bothering anyone, then it’s not a problem.”  Hull also suggests that you should be careful when you are attending a general admission show, “It’s so dangerous, especially when people rush the stage or just push.  Treat others how you’d like to be treated.”

Next, we have electronic music shows.  Blanca Cardenas is three-year veteran when it comes to these types of concerts.  Unwritten rules at these shows are not always understood, but some are very effortless if you’re going to have a good time.  “Be accepting of others,” said Cardenas.  “Peace, love, unity and respect at these shows is very important as well.”  Like most concerts, electronic music shows are quite different than others.  “The best thing about raves is probably the attendees interacting with each other,” said Cardenas.  “I feel like this rarely happens at other concerts unless you find someone attractive.  I think at raves it’s more than just meeting cool people.”

There is a long list of things Cardenas has seen or experienced while at these shows.  “Light shows, strangers giving other strangers neck massages, dancing with people you just met without it being more than ‘I just made a friend,’ meeting someone and sticking with their group all night long,” said Cardenas.  People may sometimes push their way in the crowd, but sometimes it can lead to a positive outcome.  “Every time I’ve been pushed, it’s been an accident, and everyone always apologizes,” said Cardenas.  “I’ve actually met a lot of people this way.”  Pushing your way to the front can be rude, but saying ‘excuse me’ and being polite helps.  At electronic music shows, peculiar things can occur when someone does this.  “No one really cares about people trying to get to the front,” said Cardenas.  “Everyone you’re trying to get through actually helps you pass.  People even dance with you as you’re trying to get by.  Everyone’s really nice about it, unlike other concert crowds.”  Cardenas believes her experience has helped her pick the best spots to be while at a show, and is happy to pass her advice onto others.  “Since electronic music shows or festivals are big events, I definitely prefer to be in the middle because you can hear the music better.  You have a better view of the stages and it’s not as crowded, so you have more room to dance.”

Erika Flores has attended electronic music shows for three years, but also goes to rock music concerts, and has been for four years.  She is more involved in different genres than others, but the etiquette for both types is one in the same.  “For concerts, I would assume that people are conscious of others around them and about what kind of show they are attending,” said Flores.  “Tall people should make room for shorter people.  Do not start mosh pits at shows that don’t match the music.  Do not shove and push people to get to the front, especially after people made time to get to the venue early and get a good spot in the audience.  Respect everyone around you.”  Aretha Franklin spelled it and said it best for us in her hit song, “R-E-S-P-E-C-T.”  It is something that is contagious and goes a long way at any concert.

Some fans shout during the songs when an artist is singing, which is acceptable.  In between songs is a different issue, and Flores does not approve this.  “Shouting requests is kind of redundant and might be unnecessary,” said Flores.  “The band has a set list because those are the songs they want to perform for that show.  Shouting vulgar nonsense or cussing is completely rude for the bands and everyone around.  We’re there to see musicians perform, not listen to other people shouting random things.  Girls screaming excessively is also very unnecessary.”  There is a time and place for everything.  Flores explained this well, not only with shouting, but with phone use too.  “Taking photos and videos is a big part of today’s culture and experience,” said Flores.  “Everyone wants to have a memory of the show they attended.  In my opinion, taking a photo at the beginning of the show when the artist comes on is a must, because you capture the energy that they have.  If someone takes video throughout the performance, you lose the essence of actually experiencing the music live.”  In other words, don’t be one of those people that watches the whole performance through your phone.  Live in the moment and have it captured in your mind.  People WILL believe you.  You don’t need photo or video proof all the time.

Being someone that is shorter than most, Flores believes that people who possess the same stature should arrive earlier so they can have access to getting a better view of the stage and artist.  Some people may be nice enough to clear a view for you as well.  “From my past experiences, depending on the crowd, some people realize that I can’t see very well and will be nice enough to either make room and allow me to move in front of them, or they will try to make a gap between them so that I can see through them,” said Flores.

Going off of one of the categories Flores enjoys, we focus on rock music next, and the aggressive side of the genre.  This is music that showcases breakdowns, loud screams and growls from artists.  Fans tend to be a lot more like the music of this genre.  They are rowdy, rambunctious, and sometimes, even barbaric.  At these shows, in the audience, there is: moshpits, hardcore dancing, circle pits, among the usual pushing, shoving, and crowd surfing seen at other shows.  Daniel Lozada is used to all of these aspects of hardcore shows, as he has been going to them for the last four years.  During these shows, fans can get out of hand, and artists may have to step in, and possibly even stop the show, to help out to control the situation.  “I actually like it because it shows that they care about their fans,” said Lozada.  “It may take away from the show, but what if that was you?  What if you’re getting stomped on or trampled and you want to get up and no one is helping you?  You wouldn’t want the band to keep playing.  You’d want somebody to step in, and if no one is, why not the people who are on stage?”  This is how crazy these shows can get sometimes.

Like all shows, people are going to try to push their way to the front no matter what.  You should be cautious if you want to be at the front or near the rail at a hardcore rock concert, because it can get a little insane.  “If you really don’t want to get crushed at the rails, you might want to move out of the way, because people are going to be pushing other people against the rail and it is going to be constant,” said Lozada.  “It’s going to be a consistent tug-of-war to try to stay in the spot you want to be.”  Crowd surfers will be lifted toward the front from the start of the first band, to the final song of the last band.  In other words, be careful, be VERY careful and heed the advice of others.  If you couldn’t already figure it out, these shows will cause those in attendance to sweat, sometimes very profusely.  “Even on the cold days, there’s going to be a lot of movement,” said Lozada.  “You’re going to be sweating.  Imagine that a hundred plus people are sweating around you [with] constant friction and constant heat.  It’s just going to smell bad.  It’s one of the things that come with shows which you also get accustomed to.”

Like Lozada, Michael Hernandez is skilled in hardcore shows, and has been going for eight years.  He is trained well enough to know what to wear, what to bring, and how to be ready for anything.  “People should wear comfortable shoes because they should expect to be standing for awhile,” said Hernandez.  “There’s always, like, five or six bands playing, [and you’re] standing for five or six hours.  Wear comfortable clothing.  Don’t bring too much stuff in with you.  Don’t bring in a purse if you’re a girl.  Try to keep your stuff at a minimum.”  Staying hydrated may be difficult because not all venues have water fountains, and spike prices for a small bottle of water.  If you don’t want to pay a ridiculous amount for water, take this advice from Hernandez.  “Keep water in the car because it could be a long night, especially if you’re going to be in the mosh pit, because you’ll be sweaty and dehydrated,” said Hernandez.

You will be standing, with little room for movement, so protect your belongings.  There’s been instances where Hernandez has seen people lose personal items because they stuffed items in their back pocket.  He believes that you should keep everything in your front pocket.  “Be prepared for what will happen in the mosh pit,” said Hernandez.  “If you are the type that likes to watch the show, but not get involved in the pit, then stand in the back, or on the sides to enjoy the show more.  You’ll be away from all the craziness.”  Despite all of the etiquette that was talked about throughout the article from those experienced in their respective genres, there is one thing that one should do when attending a show that Hernandez said perfectly. “Just be prepared to have fun.”


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