Rant: Gigetiquette

author PP date 12/04/07

As one of our new article series, rants are strong personal opinions of our own writers and guest columnists, who feel strongly about one issue and another and want to let their rage/opinion out on unsuspecting readers who won't know what has hit them. Seeing as this is the very first of its kind on Rockfreaks.net, it is only appropriate that myself, the editor in chief will start off as an example of what this feature can be used for. One issue that has long bothered me is how people generally behave at gigs, which are supposed to be gatherings of like-minded people to celebrate the awesomeness of a given band, but in today's London have turned into battlefields with "everyone for himself" logic dominating the mindsets of many attendees, thus destroying what might otherwise have been the gig of the life for many.

Not too long ago, I went to a large sold-out 5,000 capacity show to see a band I had held dear to my heart for years now, and therefore wanted to be all the way up close to the barrier to see all the action first-hand instead of having to alternate between the back of someone's head and the lead singer in my vision. Unfortunately due to a number of extremely annoying circumstances caused by a number of fuckheads some might call "other people", most of my gig was ruined due to getting kicked in the head several times before gaining bruises all over my body in the mosh pit. So here I am, telling you guys how to behave at a rock/metal concert, and I'm about to write some guidelines which, in my opinion, will make all gigs a much more enjoyable experience. Call me a party pooper if you will, but heck, getting a shoe in your mouth isn't exactly my idea of having a great time at a concert.

So here we go, the "Do's & Don'ts" for gigs, or a "Gigetiquette" if you like. People never want to hear bad news so I'll just start with the "Do's" first.

DOs

1. Sing or scream along

There's no better way to pay your respect to the band than by singing along to the lyrics of the songs. When a band is on stage, it means the world to them that you've taken the time to learn some of their songs, regardless if you bought it legally or not. Even if you don't know the exact lyrics but know the melody, mime along, because the more people that sing along, the more enthustiastic and loving the band is to the crowd.

2. Dance/Mosh!

To quote Alexisonfire's "Get Fighted": "My greatest gift to you is a dancefloor free from insecurities". Most bands expect you to dance along much like Dallas sings in one of Alexisonfire's most famous songs. Instead of just sitting there with the 'cool-dude' pose on with crossed arms, why don't you jump along, dance, tap a foot, do anything to move along to the music. The more people doing this - the better atmosphere, and hence, a better show! No-one is too cool to dance along to a song they like! Jump up and down in unison of the crowd, be active. If it is a ska gig - skank!

3. Cheer & Applaud!

Do remember to clap, scream in awe or just shout "YEAAAAH!!" after the songs, show your appreciation to the bands. This applies especially at smaller gigs, where the atmosphere will quickly become more intimate when people let out their passion!

4. Watch out for each other!

Did you see someone fall? Make sure they are pulled up immediately. See someone in desperate need of water? If you're in reach, hand over some of the water from near the barrier to this person. Someone pinned against the barrier about to choke and die? Notify a security guy behind the barrier immediately. By taking care of each other at gigs we guarantee a positive atmosphere and avoid events that unfolded when 70,000 people pushed forward at a tragic Pearl Jam concert at Roskilde almost a decade ago.

5. Do what the band tells you to do!

If the band asks people to clap, don't be afraid to clap even if you are the only one. If you see that the band is ok with people jumping on stage during parts of songs, don't be afraid to do it. Again, this just shows to the band that you care, that they are doing a great job! Why not reward them likewise! There's nothing more discouraging to a band than have one of them clapping up on stage and nobody following in the crowd.

Oh, and as a final note - when a band member circles his finger up in air, guess what that means! That's right folks, a CIRCLE PIT. But from my experience at gigs, most of you have not got the slightest clue what an actual cricle pit is, so I'm just gonna outline it here for you guys. A circle pit isn't where you just jump up and down or crash into each other. Far from it actually. Back in the old days, like late 80s to mid 90s, when the whole scenester movement didn't exist, a circle pit truly meant a circle. You would circle around the pit, i.e. run around in a circle without crashing into each other. Go to a popular ska gig and many bands will attempt to tell you this is how it's done, and these are among the last of their kind. Try to initiate one next time!

DON'Ts

So now that we have covered the positives, we're into the real inspiration behind this article, the reason why I try to avoid large gigs in general, because almost every point I'm going to outline here occurs regularly at all large sold out venues of 2,000 people or more.

1. Don't crowdsurf!

...Unless the band asks you to do of course, in which case the crowd near the front will be aware of someone defying the laws of gravity and flying through the air their way. But there are few things that piss me off more than the intense headache caused unexpectedly by an idiot who decided to crowd surf and in the process kicked me in the head, or worse, landed on my head after being throw in air by the crowd. Fortunately I'm tall and big enough to not get seriously hurt, but a smaller person might, so if you are one of those assholes continuously doing this - please stop. I especially hate all those of you who take advantage of the mid-barriers at the exceptionally large venues, and climb on them to jump on top of unsuspecting people. I've made it a habit of elbowing all of you, and if possible, stealing your shoe and throwing it far away if you continue!

2. Don't intentionally try to hurt people

This one goes for you trendy faggots who think clinching your fists and waving them around like a windmill is moshing. I'll let you into a secret - it's not! In fact it annoys the hell out of many 'legitimate' moshers who are in the mosh pit to have fun, not to get a black eye caused by one of your idiot fists. This is sometimes mistakenly called 'hardcore dancing', and some of you seem to think it is appropriate to try to recreate Karate Kid the movie during a concert. You're hurting people, and you're looking like an idiot in the process. There's no logical reason for you to do this - do you ever see any of the bands do it on stage?

3. Don't throw shit at the band/people

Some of you might think it's funny to finish half of your water - or even worse beer - and throw it in the air backwards so it is certain to spread over a few unfortunate crowd members who might be holding a digital camera or a phone in their hand. Not only is this a waste of beer (or water someone at the front could've needed), but it is annoying as hell to suddenly get a rain of stinking liquid on you. Same goes for throwing stuff at the band. No band is ever bad enough to justify throwing things at them, if you don't like them just don't watch and hang out at the bar instead or something. There might be people in the crowd who hold a particular band very dear to them - how would you feel if your favorite band was bottled? To me, that is the ultimate disrespect you can give to a band. This goes especially out to the Download/Reading/Leeds festival crowds, who could use a trip or two to Roskilde Festival to witness the truly friendly atmosphere you can experience there.

4. Don't disrespect the band

All the loser signs with your hands, the middle fingers up in the air, the boo-ing - just stop it all. If you don't happen to like a band, then why the hell are you there watching them in the first place? If it's a support band and you are more or less forced to watch them, just take a few steps back to the bar, hang out with your friends and let them play their set in peace. I don't see you making better music and on tour, so give your respect to the bands that do! It creates such a negative atmosphere inside a venue, and at least myself I feel like punching you in the face when I see you doing any of the aforementioned. There are, however, exceptions to this rule, like when Axl Rose arrives three hours late on stage because he absolutely demanded a roast dinner before performing - I'm sure you get the gist.

5. Don't smoke/do drugs

If you have to smoke, do it in the designated smoking areas or at the back of the venue. Some of us don't wish cancer on ourselves, and hate the smell of smoke in general. Respect others around you too, we don't have a choice if you choose to smoke around us. As for drugs, don't do them at all. There's nothing worse than seeing someone completely fucked out of their head, crashing into people and looking generally dangerous to all forms of life. Do this at your own time please!

6. Don't dress like an idiot

It was debatable whether or not I should've included this point, but I'll give it a go anyway to get some comments out of all of you scenesters. Have you ever, and i stress ever, seen a band dress in body-tight clothes with black and red stripes, all black hair and black makeup? Even the most 'scene' of bands don't do this, so why the hell would you? If you're trying to be a 'non-conformist', I have a secret to reveal to you - you are conforming to what is trendy at the moment in the music scenes!! You might counter-argument me and say that "by PP My Chemical Romance does it" and guess what I would say? They only do it because they know how to market themselves to you guys! If you had a chance to see them back in the old days before they got big, you would have noticed how they had no make up on, and were just a bunch of normal dudes on stage! It's ok to dress 'slightly' scene of course but here I am talking about the extreme people with hundreds of piercings, ridiculous color combinations and the same hairstyle as the next three hundred kids. It's fine if this is how you dress in your daily life as well, but if you are one of those people who 'dresses up' for a concert: please understand it is not a (bad) fashion show.

7. Don't buy pirated merchandise outside of the venue

...unless the band is on a major label, in which case let all hell lose! Here I am focusing on the indie-label bands, who are the ones that truly suffer not only from downloading, but mostly on merchandise piracy. For every T-shirt that you buy for half the price outside from one of the pirates, the band can't afford one extra meal. It really is that tight for some of the smaller bands, so please, PLEASE support them instead of the pirates. The guys selling the shirts outside the venues are the same assholes who buy dozens of tickets so when a show sells out early, you'll have to pay triple of even quad premium to the original price! As for major label bands - they don't see any profit they get from merchandise sales, so by buying pirated shirts of these kinds of bands, you are helping our cause to try to bring the major label model down hard.

Conclusions

So there you have it, my rant about what's great and what's not so great at gigs. I've written this article with a slightly offensive/negative tone on purpose in order to stir discussion and opinions from you, my dear reader. So please, use the comments feature of this article and tell me I'm an asshole, but I expect you to be able to justify it as well. Or tell me that I'm right and I should be the next pope, but justify that too. I'll be seeing all of you at the next few hundreds of gigs, just look for the guy who is cursing over the crowdsurfers near the front! m/

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