A Modest Proposal For Houston Concert Audiences
Photos by Marc Brubaker
Don't bother us in the morning until we've had our coffee, and don't bother us - or anyone else, for that matter - at a concert until we've had our music.
We've all been there. You spent $100 on concert tickets to a show, which you and your best friend or significant other have been looking forward to for months. As you arrive at the venue, you drop another 15 bucks on parking.
Sure, you could have found a spot and walked, but you're like a kid pulling up to Chuck E. Cheese - you've got to get inside, and fast. When you finally walk in, before making your way into the pit, you open up a tab at the bar and of course, you'll end up spending at least $50 on drinks as the night plays out.
At this point, you've spent a lot of hard-earned money, you're ready for the show, and you expect to have a good time. Then, just as you and your (lady) friend settle into the closest open spots you can fit into, you hear it, and your stomach drops.
The guy you're now stuck next to is already drunk, disruptively loud, and won't stop talking. He may even be throwing elbows, spilling his drink or both.
A night out is expensive, and when you get stuck next to some loudmouth who thinks his comments are more important than the show you've now paid close to $200 to see, there isn't much you can do about it. But if our fellow concertgoers decide to make it a priority, perhaps we can change this mindset for good.
For those who aren't seasoned concert-going veterans, Rocks Off suggests you behave at a show the way you would at a movie. If your phone rings, either ignore it or leave to answer it. Talking between bands is fine - just like it's all right to talk between movie previews - but once the curtain drops, please shut up.
For the sake of all those around you who have also paid to see the show, control yourselves. If you must mingle, make your way to the back or go outside. And if you feel like getting drunk and rowdy, just don't. If you're a fan of mosh pits, make sure the rest of the crowd is willing to mosh with you, too. If they aren't, don't force it.
Anywhere else in public, this behavior wouldn't be tolerated, but for some reason many fans feel that they have a right to act out of control at concerts. But what about the rights of the fans who don't wish to engage in such behavior? Isn't it their right to not have to put up with you? When do your rights begin to infringe on those of others? Ask yourself these questions the next time you attend a concert.
And before you accuse Rocks Off of being all preachy or holier than thou, let us be clear: We're not saying that a family with small children should to attend a Slayer concert, stand directly in front of the stage and not expect to get pulled into the mosh pit. If you go to a GWAR show, you're going to get covered in fake blood, and if you attend an Insane Clown Posse show, we hope you aren't allergic to Faygo.
Common sense should be taken into account - certain concerts entail certain happenings - but at the Silversun Pickups concert a few months ago, we vividly recall one fan punching another in the face after the punchee wouldn't stop elbowing the women behind him, spilling their drinks.
Similar to the actions of concertgoers, the behavior of college sports fans is also under strict scrutiny.
"For a culture that holds dear the concepts of fair play, civility, honest effort - in short, sportsmanship - intercollegiate athletics at times sure has a strange way of showing its commitment to such values," NCAA President Myles Brand said in a 2008 article.
"And fans - both students and others - are moving quickly in some cases from loyal fanatics to out-of-control mobs."
This mob mentality, which is brewing in the minds of many concert attendees, makes families and anyone who does not plan to act feral uneasy. Perhaps this is why the number of people attending concerts fell so drastically in 2010. People may like the music, but why put up with the people?
It happens all the time. A new venue opens, becomes popular and before you know it, people stop visiting the establishment because they don't want to deal with "the regulars." Ask yourself how many times a friend has asked if you wanted to accompany him or her to an event, and you've declined because you didn't want to deal with the people who are usually there.
Houstonians need to start holding themselves to higher standards.
Fan behavior needs to change, and while Houston isn't the only city dealing with the problem, it could be the first city to set standards for itself and lead the way for the rest of the nation.
The concert-going experience is an amazing one, and those of us lucky enough to have the money to enjoy it regularly are lucky. But let's share the wealth. To do that, we need to make sure that it's all fun and games.
Hopefully, Houston concert-goers will understand, and we will begin to restructure the live music experience so that it becomes more fun for everyone involved, not just the drunken minority.
Is an appeal to reason too much to ask? Can't we all just act with civility? Or are we jumping the gun here and overreacting to a situation that doesn't exist? What are your thoughts on attending concerts?
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