Concert etiquette helps unite show attendees through music, behavior

Ever since I went to my first Warped Tour in 2009, attending concerts has been one of my favorite pasttimes. From the way a band of seemingly normal people can step on stage and become something larger than life, to the way an audience can transform itself into a body of appreciation for whoever’s on stage, a great live show can be a truly sincere expression of gratitude in the right context.

In my five years of attending concerts frequently, most of which have been spent in the punk scene, I’ve been to my fair share of shows. Whether it’s an intimate club show or a massive stadium performance, I’ve done it all at this point. However, most of the shows I frequently attend are more of the former style.

While I’m still left dumbfounded at the sheer spectacle of a performance and an audience’s reaction combining into one entity, certain aspects of the concert experience have left me weary.

Behaviors such as stagediving, moshing, crowdsurfing and all of their variations are all natural parts of the punk scene. And with these various elements come the natural repercussions.

Far too often, I have seen concert goers walking out with black eyes, bloody noses, chipped teeth and even a dislocated knee (an image from a former Bled Fest that will never leave my memory, no matter how hard I repress it).

Let me be clear, though. None of these factors are necessarily at the fault of the bands playing, nor are they the fault of the genre itself for inciting such an atmosphere. No, the problem goes deeper than that.

When attending a concert, there is such a thing as concert etiquette.

Just in the way that you wouldn’t put your fork on the right side of the table or not send a thank you note for receiving a present, there needs to be an ultimate set of rules for concert-going, especially for smaller shows.

A guidebook such as this has always been implied, but never strictly enforced.

First, there’s stagediving. Though never attempted by me (I weigh close to 300 pounds and would never want to put the receiving person through such a horrifying experience), there is a proper way to do so.

It’s necessary to keep the people you’re jumping on in mind, both when making your way up to the stage and making the final leap.

First, have a fellow concertgoer hoist you up into the arms of another attendee, and begin the process of working your way up. Hopping up on stage is also acceptable as long as your only intention is to safely jump into the crowd.

If you even think about making for a move for any band member on stage by hugging, kissing or groping them in an inappropriate way, be expected to get verbal lashing from both the band and the crowd.

Once you’ve made it on stage, you have roughly three seconds to make a connection with the crowd and take the leap. Once you’ve made your jump (hopefully with your back to the audience), let the crowd do their work. If you did so correctly, you’ll be accepted with open arms and have taken flight.

And just as you hopefully learned in kindergarten – please take turns.

Moshing is a bit more complicated. While those participating are typically the only ones that enjoy the activity, it should still be welcomed with open arms in a punk community. People express their emotions through different ways, and need that outlet to get their anger or excitement out.

When it comes to moshing, however, make sure to know your boundaries. Just in the way that people may feel the need to mosh to have fun at a concert, others get the same satisfaction just by standing in the back slightly nodding their head. It’s all about personal preference.

That’s why the act of crowdkilling (where those moshing run into those that aren’t participating and jump on top of them to cause damage) is completely unacceptable and deserves every ounce of public shaming possible.

Aside from that though, there’s not much else to address. And in reality, a vast majority of these rules aren’t too difficult to uphold in a concert setting. The biggest thing to remember, first and foremost, is that music is all about community.

It can be easy to forget that fact from time to time, as the worlds of subgenres and personal differences can drive us apart. However, the way I see it, it’s not about the differences that should divide us, but instead the similarities that bring us together.

This entry was posted on Monday, October 6th, 2014 and is filed under Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

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