A recent experience my wife Alice and I had while attending a concert at a very popular region concert hall is what inspires today’s column topic, “Proper Concert Hall Etiquette.”
As a music fan first and foremost, I attend concerts to see and more importantly to HEAR the artist performing on stage. It seems logical to assume most people do the same after shelling out money and taking time out of one’s life to attend a concert event.
Enjoying an evening of acoustic music was the plan, for us and for two other couples who showed up to enjoy an amazing performance by a national singer/songwriter. That was until a group of chatty late-comers ended our collective enjoyment with an endless stream of chatter, whispering and laughter, coupled with several trips to and from their seats.
The two other couples eventually got up and left the venue. Alice and I followed suit, but instead of leaving relocated to a pair of seats elsewhere that had a much worse view of the stage, but did allow for undisturbed enjoyment of the music.
The experience which clearly underscored how some folks fail to understand a concert is a community event has prompted me to channel “Miss Manners” for this simple refresher course on common courtesies in the concert environment and how they differ depending on the type of venue and music presented.
When at huge arena or shed concerts by rockers like The Rolling Stones or Pearl Jam; dance divas like Lady Gaga or Miley Cyrus; or other equally amped up events, it’s a safe bet the audience will be rowdy, loud and on their feet. One attends those kind of concerts with expectations of fans standing, cheering, yelling, dancing and partying up the place. It’s unlikely anyone will “Sssssssssh!” you during a rave up of “Poker Face” or “Party In The U.S.A.”
Likewise, when catching a band at a local club, it’s generally understood that the experience will include foosball tables clattering, glasses clinking, tipsy friends laughing, some guy in the back of the room shouting “Freebird,” all meshing into a background din of noise.
There IS however, a different set of expectations when attending an evening of symphony music, or in the case of my experience, an acoustic singer/songwriter. For those types of events, it’s reasonable to anticipate sharing the experience with a reasonably calm and quiet crowd of like-minded music enthusiasts desiring to drink in every note played and every word sung.
Artists like Lady Gaga, Demi Lovato and One Direction target a fan’s feet with an infectious beat, while the acoustic guitar-strumming of artists like Dar Williams, Dan Navarro, and Roger McGuinn demands quiet, careful listening.
So as a rule of thumb, if the bass ain’t booming enough to feel it in your chest and the guitar amps are not set at “11,” take a quick moment to assess the situation, the audience, and the environment whatever concert you are attending.
When attending a small venue for an intimate performance by an acoustic artist, please refrain from behaving like it’s a tailgate party. Remember, the purchase of a ticket does not entitle a person to infringe on the right others to enjoy the live music experience of a gifted artist, nor disrespect the artist by talking, texting, laughing and walking around during their performance. Instead, give the stage and the person(s) on it your undivided attention.
In short, if you cannot refrain from being loud, chatty and annoying during intimate concert situations, than please refrain from buying a ticket, so as not to ruin things for those actually there to HEAR the artist’s stories and songs.
• Northwest Indiana’s long-running covers band DreamZ is now holding auditions for a keyboardist, lead guitarist and drummer, according to frontwoman/band leader Starr Williams. “We’ve decided to do both covers and original music – the best of both worlds – and adding new flavor to the band. “Change is good because it keeps things fresh,” added bassist Glenn Curtis. Current guitarist Dave Perez and drummer Donny Mizanin remain with the group, until new members are found. More info: (219) 810-2987.
• New York singer/songwriter/guitarist Willie Nile guests on “Midwest BEAT with Tom Lounges” this Tuesday at 6 p.m. on 89.1FM-The Lakeshore (streaming live at www.lakeshorepublicmedia.org/radio).
A good friend of Bruce Springsteen who often jams with the E-Street Band, Nile will chat about his rollercoaster career, hanging with “The Boss,” his new CD “American Ride,” and his Oct. 19 full band gig at Memorial Opera House in Valparaiso. Call in and win tickets to Nile’s concert and talk to the veteran East Coast rocker. More: www.WillieNile.com