Concerts have always been “my thing” and I have been to many a show in my time. When I was a teenager I practically had a second life at some of the local Baltimore area venues, seeing anyone I had heard of whenever they came into town if I could afford it. Back then, the affording it part seemed much easier.
The last few concerts I have been to have gotten me thinking about the differences in going to a concert now versus when I was a younger version of myself. Trust me; there are some major differences…. I’ll outline 5 in particular that I have noticed.
Cell phones instead of lighters in the air?
I guess one could consider it a good sign that perhaps less people are smoking (health wise anyway) but I don’t really like this change. I’m not a smoker but I always brought a lighter to every concert I went to for just this reason. Everyone holding up their lighters for a rock band performing is just a phenomenon I grew up with. It was so mundane to me that I never even questioned just why people do it in the first place until I started writing this.
So I had to google it.
Googling the question essentially told me that there is no solid answer how or why it started. Some say it started at Woodstock in 1969. The tale goes that crowd members held up burning candles to show their appreciation for a singer by the name of Melanie. It was pouring down rain, but she kept on with the show. There are other stories attributing the phenomena to The Doors, Bob Dylan, and even Styx, but it seems to me that the Melanie story was the earliest account, so that is most likely where it started.
But I’m slipping away from my initial point in this history lesson.
One of the reasons behind the lighter phenomena is to show appreciation, and the crowd usually looks dark from the stage, so the lighters would illuminate the people and The band could actually see the audience. Though I get that phones are convenient and everyone has one nowadays, I feel that it doesn’t have the same effect as seeing the little flames throughout the crowd. Maybe it’s just me, but I prefer the lighters.
Trying to videotape the concert on your phone/digital camera
Seriously, this one actually pisses me off a bit. You are at the show TO SEE THE SHOW! Not to fucking record it! And I don’t know if it’s only me noticing this, but 90% of the time, the idiot recording the concert on their fucking phone (so they can share it on the internet later for validation that they were actually there) is too far away from the stage to even SEE anything. When they are close enough, they are usually an extreme pain in the ass, reaching in front of people’s faces, putting their camera or phone directly in your line of sight so you have to dance around it to be able to actually see the show….. Word to the wise: the sound quality on your camera/phone usually isn’t even that good; so more often then not when these people try to record the show, the music comes out sounding somewhat gravelly and garbled. Just a FYI, take it or leave it….
Just STANDING THERE
Not everyone is brave enough to get in the mosh pits, and I know that I have avoided them for a few years after taking a hit to the face so hard in a Nonpoint/Sevendust show mosh pit that I hit the floor and had a black eye that lasted for full month….but recently I have noticed some audiences at shows that literally just STAND THERE. No moshing, no headbanging, no crowd surfing, no getting down to the music, no fist pumping and cheering….they just stand there, staring straight ahead. They look bored. Honestly, if I were in a band playing one of these shows and saw my audience looking so unlively, I would feel discouraged about my performance. The worst example of this I can remember seeing was at a HIM performance I saw a few years back. Perhaps I should consider the band in this case—but the trend bothers me.
Complete lack of crowd etiquette
Then there’s another favorite of mine: members of the crowd who get upset over having to squish together for the headlining band. If you’re regular concert goer, like me, then you know that at any live show over time the crowd on the floor just gets more and more squished together until it almost feels as if you are riding a Tokyo subway in the middle of morning rush hour. This can be annoying, but it’s something that just happens, so you’ve got to deal with it. Even so, there’s etiquette that needs to be observed in this situation:
- Don’t purposefully push or shove people in an attempt to get closer to the front: THAT MAKES YOU A DICK. If you want to get closer to the stage, it’s a waiting game. Bide your time and when you can move forward; do so….but don’t purposefully force people out so you can move up. That’s not fair to anyone.
- If there is a significant amount of space around you, don’t be surprised when people decide to claim that space. I’ll never forget the time I was at an outdoor concert, and I wanted to move closer to see the stage so I took advantage of this empty space on the right side of the stage. Within seconds, someone tapped me on the shoulder and I turned around to see a middle aged woman with her teenage daughter who admonished me for standing where I stood because “now she couldn’t see.” The girl was (sadly for me) almost the same height as me, the mother was taller than I was, and they had about 4 feet of space around them in every direction, so this obviously wasn’t true, they just wanted to maintain their space bubble. I thought to myself, surely they had not expected to maintain that bubble throughout the entire show? Lo and behold, as other people began to fill in that extra space, she began to complain at them as well. Clearly, mom had no idea what to expect—-when people refused to give up where they were standing to maintain her and her daughter’s large space bubble, she got exasperated and stormed off with the daughter in tow. To this day I cannot believe her behavior. If you’re going to be in the general admission crowd at a rock concert, be prepared to give up personal space and get real friendly with the people around you. The more popular the band, the tighter the crowd will get. If this doesn’t appeal to you, I would advise looking for stadium seats or get used to watching from a distance.
- Be considerate of crowd members around you who are smaller. I am certainly not the tallest person I know, and it seems inevitable that every single time I am on the floor and actually have a great view; some 7 foot tall jack ass decides to stand directly in front of me. I have had a few tall people actually allow me in front of them so that I could see better, and those people are awesome. Be more like those people.
- Don’t stand in the middle of the floor if you don’t want to be caught in a mosh pit. It’s not rocket science, people. Most mosh pits start in the middle. If you don’t want to be in the pit, and can’t handle being near one, I suggest you avoid this area at all costs.
- Don’t try to start a mosh pit in the first, second, or third row. Just as you should not stand in the middle of the crowd if you don’t want to mosh, don’t get in the front row and try to start a pit. People in the front are not standing there because they want to mosh, they are there because they want to see the show. I have actually been at a show with a guy in the second row who started throwing elbows and shoving people because he was drunk and wanted to mosh. It was not received very well at all, and his quest to start a pit came to an end when an angry member of the crowd punched him in the face and he fell on the floor.
- Possibly the most important lesson: if someone falls down, faints, or is in some sort of distress—HELP THEM! All too often, I see people just stare when someone needs help. For mosh pits, if someone falls, pick them up, don’t let them get trampled. If you think something is going on with someone near you, ask if they are all right. If they express they want to get out of the crowd, help them. If someone faints or is unresponsive, get the attention of security IMMEDIATELY. It’s just common decency.
Back when I first started going to concerts, if you ever heard a lot of yelling coming from the crowd before the band was on the stage, 9 times out of 10 it was because some drunk girl had gotten up on someone’s shoulders and exposed her breasts. It was a typical thing, especially for summer outdoor concerts. But now….I honestly cannot remember the last time I was at a concert and saw a girl flash her titties. I have thought on this and come to one possible conclusion for lull in this phenomenon: social media.
Yes, that’s right.
Everyone is connected nowadays. No one leaves home without their phone, and everyone has a camera on their phone. With smart phones, we can access the internet anywhere at anytime. So, if one were to make a spontaneous decision like showing their breasts at a rock concert, the odds that at least one person in the crowd would capture that image is very high. Taking into consideration how many perverts there are out there, and how quickly something like that could go viral……it’s easy to see why girls don’t even risk it anymore.
Before the smart phone age, it was easy to do dumb shit like this and not worry about the repercussions. But now that everyone is connected to the internet almost 24/7, it’s not as easy to get crazy and be spontaneous without it coming back to bite you in the ass.
So that’s it: the internet killed concert flashing.
You all should be ashamed of yourselves.