Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Tips for Rock Audiences

In this final post, I've distilled some observations I've made about audiences over the last few years. These tips can come in handy at shows of any style of music (except for classical, which has its own set of rules) in nearly any venue. They come from a place of caring for you, your body, your ears, your love for music, and a desire for you not to be clobbered by a fellow show-goer.

1. Wear earplugs
Why do some shows get louder as they go on? Because the guy running the mix is nearly DEAF. Repeated attendance at loud rock shows can permanently damage your hearing. Do a favor for yourself and the people who will be around you when you are old, and get a decent pair of earplugs. Heck, get a cheap pair of earplugs. Just use them. Besides, using good earplugs can help separate the instruments and give you a cleaner sound.

2. Be quiet and pay attention
Most of the people who attend shows are there to hear the music. Their satisfaction of the show will significantly decrease if you are jabbering loudly with your friends through the whole thing, and you won't hear the show either. Some bands play songs quietly, so that means that you'll need to be quiet too. If an audience or band member yells in your direction to shut up, that's a good sign that you should take your conversation outside. Please. Reference.

3. Sing along in moderation
I love a good and well-orchestrated sing-along. Really --it's one of my favorite things in the world. But people randomly and loudly warbling along to every song a band plays makes me feel a teensy bit murderous. I know that you know all the words, but consider that the person next to you may have never heard the song before. Unless you are encouraged, sing along in your head or out loud quietly, but be respectful of the people around you so that they can experience the music as it is intended. Reference.

4. Move through a crowd politely
Advancing through a crowd is a common practice, and if you love a band, then by all means you should be at the front. Some techniques will get you through smoothly, and others will invite the ire and elbows of your fellow audience members. Be polite. Be careful with your drinks so you don't spill them on people. Recognize that some people will resist moving for you, and go around them. Stop when you realize you can't get any closer, and just enjoy the music. See techniques here and here.

5. Only shout requests when asked
You may have come to a show hoping to hear your favorite song. As the show progresses and that song still has not come up, you may get anxious. Unless there is complete silence in a room, the band is probably not going to hear what you request aloud. If they do, they interpret that as "I don't trust you to put a good set list together! Abandon that and do what I want!" which is annoying. Let them play what they want to play, unless they ask you for suggestions. Yelling "Freebird!" at any show makes you sound drunk and old.

6. Drink water
This is key at dance shows in hot places or anything at summer festivals. Collapsing from dehydration is not sexy or hardcore, and it causes trouble for the security staff. I have a new rule of drinking one glass of water per alcoholic beverage for the rest of my life, and it helps prevent headaches, hangovers, and wooziness. This may sound simplistic, but it's important. Stay hydrated.

7. Tip the bartender
This one is easy. Ensure yourself good service and strong drinks by tipping the people who serve you.

8. Don't be a drunk asshole
Woo! You are here with your best friends and you omg love this band wooooo!! We are so drunk right now!! This is the best night ever WOO! Please go forth and have a great time at the show, but be aware that crashing into people, engaging others in blathering conversation during a show, or causing your own friends to leave early because you have been ejected from the room is rude, not cute.

9. Turn your flash off
Most venues don't bother confiscating cameras anymore, so go ahead and bring it for some photos on the sly. Just turn your flash off. Yes, it's dark, but understand that your flash makes no difference beyond 20 feet in front of you. All you're doing with a flash is illuminating the heads of the audience members nearby, blinding the performer, and obliterating the nice colorful lighting. So turn it off, turn up your camera's ISO setting as high as it will go, and stay steady.

10. Applaud
Watson Twins IlluminatedPut yourself in the shoes of a performing musician: you are up on stage working, sweating, emoting, and at the end of the song you hear... crickets. An unmoving, silent audience can be devastating to a band, and yet they soldier on. Make the tiniest of efforts and clap at the end of a song. Move your body a little if you like the beat. Give them some encouraging feedback so that they deliver a great show for you.

Thanks to those of you who have been reading this blog for a short time or from the beginning (mostly my friends, I think) and for encouraging me along the way. If you'd like to wander through old reviews, please visit the Fanalyst Review Index.

-Shelley McIntyre
a.k.a. The Fanalyst
Seattle, WA


Anonymous Anonymous said...

She's out!!! Oh dear God. ;-) Such an awesome run..

3:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"You say that my poems are not poetry. Well they are not, and until you understand why they are not, you won't see their poetry" -- Ryokan

I'm bummed, maybe not as much as you, that this series didn't get picked up somewhere. But it's a wonderful body of work, and I'm proud that my friend wrote it.


8:46 AM  

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