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May 30, 2009

The 10 biggest no-nos of concertgoing


When editor Sarah (of Reality Check fame) sent me this list of the 10 Worst Ways to Behave at Concerts, I chuckled in my cubicle.

The list, which was put together by Much Music's Red Hot blog, has 10 taboos for crowd members. 

What's on the list?

Snapping cell phone photos and videos during the show, crowd surfing unnecessarily, elbowing your way to the front row, standing up at seated shows, talking through the whole performance, etc.

I'm guilty of a few of these offenses, but I don't feel guilty about it ...


A couple years ago, Amie and I saw Billy Joel at the Verizon Center in Washington. During one of his slow songs, we stood up and swayed back and forth together, romantically. About halfway through the song, a rather stern looking old fellow in the seat next to me asked me if we could sit down. Nope, I told him, and we continued to dance. We paid for those seats, and if we wanted to stand, we were going to stand whenever we wanted. Is that rude? Maybe. But I don't care.

Talking through the whole performance is rude, if it's an acoustic show. But if it's a crazy rock band, and a few people are chatting near the back of the room, so what? 

And as for elbowing your way to the front row at a club? Hey, if there isn't assigned seating, I say it's fair game. I've slipped, pushed and prodded my way up to the front row many times. If you get to a show waaay early to be the first person in line so you can be right up front, you're going to have to fight to stay there. Is it fair? Is it right? Nope. But that's how it is.

I was trying to think of stuff I could add to this list, but nothing came to mind. What do you think?

(AP photo)

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:42 AM | | Comments (45)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Local music


I think you're an idiot. If there's no assigned seating, you should've gone to the Who concert in Cinncinati years ago.
Doing what you do got eleven fans killed. So the next time you elbow and prod your way to the stage, think about that.

My biggest gripe is when the crowd sings along so you can't hear the singer!

Your behavior and rationale for said behavior sounds fairly selfish. But that seems to be par for the course when it comes to public behavior these days. I've been to countless shows/concerts and am always conscience of those around me. I wish others would adhere to a more respectful way of acting when in public.

"We paid for those seats, and if we wanted to stand, we were going to stand whenever we wanted. Is that rude?"
Definitely! If I paid for the seats behind you and it's more of a mellow type setting where most if not all are seated, ala Billy Joel, it is rude. Its a judgment call if no one else is standing in your area but in the stands overall there is a 50/50% sit vs. stand mix.

I've got my own list which includes some these.

It's toolish if you wear a shirt of the artist you're going to see. Everyone already knows you're a fan because bought a ticket and are watching their show. That is your chance to tell me something else about you, like another band you might like. The only possible exception is for a music festival when it's not clear who you really like.

Second, I hate, hate, hate when people tailgate before a concert and are listening to the artist that is putting on the concert. It's like watching a illegally ripped copy of a movie before going to check it out in the theater. Don't ruin the music for you and those forced to hear it.

Bookbags or any other large bags piss me off in a big crowd. I'm somewhat okay being bumped or pushed by a person in a crowd, but an inanimate object such as a bag constantly in my way makes me want to take it and throw it somewhere.

Mosh pit participants look like idiots. That's all I need to say for that one.

I'm not sure if I'm just short, but I wish tall people would not always stand right in front of me.

Don't yell out songs you want to hear unless the band specifically asks for a song request. They have set lists for a reason.

If you can't hold a drink at a concert without spilling it everywhere, you don't deserve a drink at a concert.

Thanks for letting me vent Sam.

Welcome back, Sam. Such a nice afternoon for a beating. Now sit down!

"What's this? You're wearing the shirt of the band you're going to see? Don't be that guy, Gutter. "

Is that a 10 year-old crowdsurfing?

We paid for those seats, and if we wanted to stand, we were going to stand whenever we wanted. Is that rude? Maybe. But I don't care.

How arrogant and self-absorbed can a person be?


What you basically said was it was okay to behave badly as long as it is on your terms, which I guess is all right since you are probably in an audience of people who hold similar beliefs with a little friction where there isn’t agreement*. Not having any true respect for the performer or each other is progressively getting to be the norm and making it a more odious of an experience that truly isn’t worth the money coupled with the exquisite joy of having fight and scramble to get tickets in the first place without being cheated.

There is an account of The Beatles playing their first college after only playing bars and clubs where they were surprised and appreciative of having the novel experience of a seated audience that was actually listening to what they were playing.

Apparently to you wearing a shirt of the artist you're going to see is an unacceptable degree of enthusiasm. The pettiest of peeves. If you ever wear a printed tee shirt of anyone or anything you are a fan of at anytime, you need to re-familiarize with the word hypocrite.

“Being offended is a natural consequence of leaving the house” - Fran Lebowitz

Personally, I don’t think people should be allowed to drink at concerts, period.

"crowd surfing unnecessarily", when was crowd surfing ever a necessity?

* “About halfway through the song, a rather stern looking old fellow in the seat next to me asked me if we could sit down. Nope, I told him, and we continued to dance. We paid for those seats, and if we wanted to stand, we were going to stand whenever we wanted. Is that rude? Maybe. But I don't care.”
This isn’t a respectable admission about how you and Amie conduct yourselves in public.

A second Fran Lebowitz quote:
“You can't go around hoping that most people have sterling moral characters.
The most you can hope for is that people will pretend that they do.”

To start off, I’m a fairly seasoned concert go-er. I’ve been to most every kind of show, for a lot of different types of bands. Some of these items I agree with, some, not so much. Let’s break it down. On a side note, if these seem callous or cruel, I come from a lot of metal/punk shows, if that helps to explain my viewpoints.

1. Recording the show, or incessantly taking photos with your cell phone.

Ok, I for the life of me, can’t understand what the problem is with this. I mean while it’s true that your pictures really won’t come out all too great, and the video will be choppier than something out of a Slap Chop, is it really your problem, unless you’re the one taking it? Sorry I don’t bring my $900 Canon Digital Rebel to the Ottobar.

2. Waiting until the show has started to secure your spot in the front row.

Disagree. Standing up front for longer than I have is no indication that you like the band more than me, or that you deserve to stay there. The front part of the stage defines survival of the fittest to a “T”. If I push through you, I guess you’re not at the top of the food chain. Now, I’m not gonna punch you in the head to get past you or anything, but if I get in front, suck it up.

3. Talking throughout the entire show.

Ok, I’ll agree with this one. If I wanted to hear you talk and scream at the top of your lungs, I would’ve broken into your house.

4. Being over 6’4” and choosing to stand in front of the shortest person in the crowd.

Yeah, this has happened to everyone. It sucks, but it’s one of those things you just have to deal with. Hopefully Andre the Giant didn’t stand right in front of you, just to ruin your good time, but he has every right to enjoy the show as you do. Why should he be the one to keep on moving back, just because genetics gave you the short straw.

5. Continually crowd surfing or slam dancing, even though it’s not that kind of show.

Let’s make it perfectly clear, that while I’m a very tolerant guy at shows, I absolutely cannot stand crowd surfing. I’ve been kicked in the head waaay too many times to think it’s charming anymore. Case in point: The last guy I caught crowd surfing near me was at a Warped Tour a couple years ago. As luck would have it, his foot collided with my head, so I chose to grab his shoes (only got 1) and proceeded to throw it half way across the crowd.

As far as “slam dancing” goes. I kinda hope you know which shows to break out your two-step at. Keep the fire in the fire hall. Unless you do it at a Dashboard Confessional show, because then it’s the finniest thing you’ll see all night.

6. Being an unruly lout.

Sorry, as much as this does suck, it falls under the “luck of the draw” category. I know it blows that these guys/gals are ruining your good time, but you should know when to pick your battles. If starting it up with 6 drunken OAR fans is your idea of a solution, then more power to you. I’m sure you’ll be laughing all the way to the hospital.

7. No problems with.

8. Holding up a sign or flag for the duration of the show.

I’ve never actually been in this situation before. So I’d say, I’d tolerate it for about 1, maybe 2 songs max, and then ask them to put it down. If not, a well placed “whoops” of the hand should solve that problem.

9. Standing at a seated venue.

Sam is right. If I paid a lot of money for an expensive seat, I’ll use it however I damn well please. I find it kind of ironic that people would tell you to sit down and fall in line at a rock ‘n’ roll show.

10. Waiting till the band plays their radio hit and then leaving.

I could really care less about this. I say this from 2 perspectives. One, as formerly being on stage myself, with the lighting the way it is, a lot of times you can barely see how big the crowd is sometimes. Secondly, if you paid good money to hear one song, and then leave, that’s your fault. The band still got your cash to keep them going, and I’ve got more room to stretch out.

See ya’ in the pit!

P.S. @ Terry, if ripping off PCU, and seriously being offended by a guy in a t-shirt of the band he’s seeing ruins your good time at a show, then you’ve got bigger problems than that.

I paid for these seats, so if I want to fart and belch while playing my gameboy then that's what I'm gonna do.

Wow Sam, you are THAT guy at concerts. The completely selfish jerk who gets to a concert late and pushes his way to the front. These people are the absolute worst. I got here early for my spot, I care enough to do so, if you try to get in front of me because you need another drink, or because you are late, sorry sir, not happening. I’m the guy who will stand with arms crossed blocking you from getting by me, and i'm not afraid to use my shoulders and elbows to make a point to your punk/drunk a$$. You and me Sam…we would not get along methinks.

"It was a nice party except for the people. People ruin everything" - Roger McGough

Hrm, "bob" is the guy who makes it hard for you get back to your friends after getting there early, setting up shop in the front, and then needing to hit the bathroom. Then you're just the jerk that tries to weasel you're way to the front even if it's a "umm, I'd like to get back to my friends" situation.


Yup...pretty much.

I come prepared not having to use the bathroom, so I dont have to leave in the middle of the show. If I am a big enough fan, I dont want to miss them playing a single note, so why would I risk a situation where I'd have to leave in the middle? It's all about being properly hydrated. How many people get up in the middle of a movie to go to the bathroom? Not many, so why should I have to at a show? No one said you had to drink your self stupid so you had to pee every 10 min and get a new drink.
I want to remember the shows I go to, so I dont usually frequent the bar area, but if I have to use the bathroom during a show, I admit to the fact that I have given up my space and start over in the back.

Also, women usually always get a pass, because...well, they are women ...but dudes, unless your mista T, good luck.

Luckily for ME(and maybe some of you it seems), I am getting too old for shows like this, and am kind of happy I dont feel the need to be in front anymore, Ill let the kiddies have thier fun up front. I just want to enjoy the music and not have to deal with certain people....or any people....

As to a seated show, if no one else in your section is standing, and no one else joins you when you stand...sit back down.

But remember...
"Don't be a jerk!"

@ Allan

It's hard for me to be ripping off PCU when I've never even seen it...I guess it happens occasionally that an opinion I hold shows up in a movie, as shockingly hard to believe that is.

And I'm far from being seriously offended by the band shirt wearers in question, however I'm simply more prone to point and call you a tool if you do.

and @ GDA...hypocrite?!? do you know what it means? i was merely stating that it's toolish to wear band shirts of the band you're seeing. i have no problem with band shirts in general, and in fact, wear them often myself. Call me petty if you wish (wasn't this post meant to list some of your concert peeves? oh right, it was), but a hypocrite I am not.


1) define tool/toolish

2) Your point on tee shirts is over the top and you made it sound like a tremendous offense to wear a fan tee shirt to the performer's event. Why is this a great social faux paz? I've had recent dealings with people that's the only time they wear them.
I still think it's inconsistant to wear any band's tee shirt at anytime give your comment.
ergo the following.

3) "Hypocrisy is the act of being less critical of oneself than of others."

4) Contributions that are debates, discussions, opinions and pot shots!
This crowd isn't above commenting on other peoples posts regardless topic.

as rare as this occasion is, I'm with GDA on the t-shirt thing. like i said before, i cannot think of a single reason why wearing the shirt of the band you're going to see is so "toolish". is it "toolish" to support the band you like, by wearing a t-shirt? that money they make off the t-shirt goes towards getting to the next venue with a little gas in the tank, or food in their stomachs. you don't have to buy a shirt, but when you do, they'll probably be a lot happier to see you wearing it, than the self important "i was there 10 years ago" tour shirt of a different band that people wear sometimes.

better yet, go to a Metallica/Iron Maiden/Misfits show, and call all of those fans tools for wearing their band shirts. See how that goes.

But for serious, if helping out a band I enjoy hearing, and getting a cool shirt in the process is toolish, then call me Mr. Goodwrench.

You're everything that is wrong with your age group in one annoying little package. You're just like many of your peers... selfish, rude, inconsiderate, arrogant, self-absorbed, shallow... the list could go on and on. There's a whole new breed of 20 something guys out there that think they are uniquely clever and witty and are not. This list of concert no-no's is right on target, and many of these social disasters happen in many other places besides concerts.

People attend a concert because they want to take part in an event spolighting an act which they have their own personal reasons for enjoying. I do find it necessary to add here that attending a Billy Joel concert, however, and "swaying romantically" during it speaks volumes about you. Billy Joel is someone you just HAVE to like because hey, everyone else says its cool to like him! Right? Billy Joel dude? You went and had the balls to admit it? Barf. Anyway, I digress.

If you talked during my concert and it was loud enough to annoy me then hell yeah I'm gonna tell you to shut your mouth or take it to the lobby, and I will tell you twice. The second time won't be as nicely said. And yes, screaming or talking in my ear or having a conversation with someone three rows down is the same as talking at a film. I came to the event to see the event, not you. I am not there to make friends and I don't want to hear you talking either. Shut your [bleeping] stupid mouth during it. Trust me, nothing you could have to say will affect me.

If you're the jackass that stands up at a seated event and you're in front of me, I'll remind you to please take your seat, or stand in the aisle. If you SWAY ROMANTICALLY (gag) enough that I can smell your armpit and you're annoying me, I'm going to again let your selfish yuppie city ass witness my tell you two times rule.

Now for the one I hate most. The douchebag that gets to the show late then pushes his way to the stage. I invite you to try to push past me. In fact I'm waiting for it. I could care less if you're male, female, geriatric or a Jehovah's Witness. You ain't getting there, but you're welcome to try all you want if you don't mind a little discomfort.

I don't know where your generation gets off thinking that you deserve everything and that the world is here just for you. I see you in the bars, I see you at the ball park, I see you in the theaters, I see you on the train, and especially I see you on the roads. You kids better grow up and learn some manners fast before someone fixes your smarmy asses. Other people live in this world too, and you're gonna realize it.

I'll touch on a couple other things here while I'm at it. I see no problem wearing a T-shirt to a concert that represents who you are going to see. Go down to a ball game some time and look at all the orange shirts, or to a Raven's game and look at the purple. What's the difference? I see no problem in supporting who you enjoy. I have my own definition of "tool" and I'm addressing one now. The problem is, you're so oblivious you don't even know it. You wouldn't even think for a minute that you could even be one.

I used to think you were kinda a fun guy, but now I realize I'd be totally annoyed by you and I don't even know you. That to me is the worst kind of apathy about someone. The kind of dislike you have for a person you haven't even met. You just know what kind of person they are, and that's enough.

Johnnycat, can I please buy you a beer? I agree with your enitre comment. Well, except for maybe the Jehovas witness part.

I am roughly Sams age, and yes people my age suck. The sense of entitlement they have, even though they have accomplished nothing, and been through nothing, and all the government wants to do is encourage it.


you know Johnny, for a guy with "cat" in his handle, you sure do sound like a pussy.

Ummmm..... with regard to wearing the band's shirt........... what if we're talking a souvenir shirt from the British band's 1987 US tour, or their 1991 Japanese tour, or their 1997 European tour, or......

Oh, that's right. Nobody reading Midnight Sun would be caught dead listening to such "moldy oldies," huh?

false. i like the bee gees.

A few things I noticed on this post....

First, the definition of a hypocrite is a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings. Wikipedia got it wrong on that one, GDA.
Secondly, I'll admit that I'd never given much thought of the idea about wearing a band's t-shirt to their show until Jeremy Piven laid into Jon Favreau in PCU about his faux pas. I thought his comment (see bryanintimonium's comment above) was funny and I will usually wear another band's shirt to the show i go to.
To the poster who does not like when people are blaring the band that you are about to see in their car before the show.....I totally agree with you. That's a pet peeve of mine too.
Lastly, if we're packed in like sardines at a GA show and you're trying to push your way through the crowd, you're an idiot regardless of why you're trying to get through. Chances are you were getting a beer, going to the bathroom or were crowd surfing and security escorted you off to the side and made you go to the back of the crowd.

Hey Bob,
No "free" beer is necessary, my friend. Thank you for the offer-- but I'll be more than happy to sit and have one with you and discuss this fine world!

@ Cardwell. i kinda agree with not listening to the band before the show. sometimes i do it, sometimes not. ex. every time i see the Hold Steady, they never play Knuckles, so i usually get my fix in the car before hand. also afterwards is also acceptable for hearing songs that didn't get played.

also, by GA, do you mean Gaslight Anthem?

@ Allan: by GA I am referring to General Admission. And I have no beef with people playing the songs that didn't get played after the show.

I also agree with johnnycat. As a twentysomething, I'm tired of having to deal with self-absorbed jackasses that think the world revolves around them.
Oh, and by the way Mr. Sessa - try being a little less of a Baltimore yuppie cliche by not describing your favorite activity as "but nothing beats having a cold, locally brewed beer with friends in a comfortably full corner bar."

Dag, Sam! You're taking some serious heat for this post!


I know what hypocrite means in the full sense of the word, but back checked on myself when challenged. I went with the Wikipedia definition, which I thought of as “lite” version, as concession to tact..

I don't want to pile on with more nasty comments about your attitude; I think you get the picture from others...... Well wait... I can't help myself-- you really ARE a selfish jerk and should be banned from interacting with the public.. Maybe your parents were too busy to teach you civilized behavior.

while i too disagree that you own the seat and surrounding area around it to the extent that you can block others access to seeing the concert, i do not believe that "but nothing beats having a cold, locally brewed beer with friends in a comfortably full corner bar." constitutes "yuppie cliche". i do not see any reason to be mean about any of this and sitting around having a few beers with friends constitutes fun, relaxation and camaraderie.
personally, worrying about what someone is wearing or playing on their radio is pretty petty and i am glad that this is the worst you all can come up with since it means you are all doing pretty well.
concert going (either symphonic or rock & roll) should be an experience everyone should enjoy in their own rented area while trying not to interfere with those around you who should be also enjoying the show and not interfering with you. its calle many things, but 2 leap to mind.
1. manners, and 2. common courtesy.
the whole world would be a better place if people could only master those 2 simple concepts.


I'm basic agreement but with less outraged hostility. I do think you're wrong on one account the offend set of behaviors described are not really of a given age group, they, lamentably, are getting to be, progressively pandemic of all ages, at least under sixty. Teens and twentysomethings may be more demonstrative but they just going with what they seen older people do.

Sam admitted to an uncommon degree of smugness for which he is thoroughly unapologetic about and this is disillusioning and disappointing. We previously thought better, but reality intrudes.

Sam, you're a jerk. And a real disappointment.

Thanks for the feedback, everybody. Diogenese, Johnnycat, bob, GDA, ss2, etc -- I just wrote a response to all your comments.

Here's a link:

that's a little harsh there Jeff. i bet you've never met the man. i happen to know for certain that he is not a jerk but actually a pretty nice guy.

The only thing worse than someone who stands at a concert is an internet tough guy.

Just try and get past me! You get two warnings.


I'm with you on the manners and common courtesy.
Props to Sam for his response.

i wasnt going to comment, but this is ridiculous. Sam took me to the Billy Joel concert FOUR years ago because I wanted to go for my birthday. It WAS romantic and a very sweet gesture. Its not like we were the only people standing. Some of us (5'2 is my height) are short. When other people stand, I can't see, so I stand as well. We had as much right to enjoy the concert as everyone around us. We were not being loud or obnoxious in any way and we were not standing the entire time, just when it was in OUR minds appropriate.

THere is nothing wrong with having differing opinions on that, but it seems the anonymousness of hte blog makes it easier for some readers to leave hateful comments. You can voice your opinion without name-calling.

And, esp @Johnnycat, try and think for a minute before you start deciding on the personality types of an ENTIRE generation of people. If your generation was to be judged by you, well.... the words used probably wouldnt be pretty.

wow I take a break from the Midnight Sun to pursue my career in suntanning and all hell breaks loose. Why can't we all just get along? Congrats on the wedding Sam & Amie. Stop down and visit me sometime!

Alexander D. Mitchell IV,

Moldy Oldies are what people who don't like the music in question call them.
People who do call them Oldies or Classics.

If the postings on YouTube are any indication then there are a fair number of Teens and Twentysometings that think today's music is crap and that they missed out on not being around when various bands were in their prime, many influencial but not hit makers.

Just one comment, My father has severe haemophilia and cannot stand for long periods of time without enduring pain, For fathers day last year my sister and i bought him and my stepmother Aerosmith tickets, while at the concert he dealt with an a-hole like you and missed a good bit of the show, but I guess being handicapped his ticket and rights aren't as important as yours.. People say the problem with people these days is the lack of religion being taught in schools, I say its due to lack of manners and respect being taught, religion just teaches its ok to do whatever you want as long as you ask forgiveness on sunday. Its people like you that piss of that man until he kicks your teeth in and then call him a lunatic...

I'm going to go out on a limb here and point out that Sam isn't that tall either... (From another short person).
Also, if you have medical reasons why you can't stand you can get seats that accommodate you or bring a wheelchair so you get the ultimate aisle! It's the one time being disabled is an advantage (I have friends who are quadriplegics).

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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