Originally published on MadeLoud, July 21, 2008.
For most music fans, a concert ticket represents an evening of entertainment and engagement with artists they admire. But you’re different. When you punch in your credit card number and agree to pay every ludicrous handling fee Ticketmaster can dream up, you understand that this transaction entitles, if not obligates, you to behave in ways that would make Miss Manners curse like a roadie. In short, you’re a concert-going dick, and proud of it. To that end, we’d like to offer this handy guide for achieving maximum dickishness at any music venue. Why else go out to see live music?
Tip 1: Sharing is Caring
Sure, those folks up on the stage have all the mics and amps, but that doesn’t mean they’re the only ones who deserve to be heard. You’re an intelligent, talented person, and any crowd could benefit from your input. When the band strikes up a familiar number, feel free to loudly discuss how much better they sounded with the original drummer, even if it takes the duration of several songs to make your point. Otherwise, someone in your vicinity may be foolish enough to enjoy the song just the way it is.
Your input needn’t be all negative. When you hear a tune you really love, you should sing along to your heart’s content, even if the band hasn’t asked for audience participation. And don’t just mumble to yourself – give it your full voice. The band will appreciate your obvious devotion, and your fellow fans will be impressed by your seamless harmonization.
Tip 2: Stake Your Claim
Some music fans cling stubbornly to outmoded traditions, like the antiquated rule of “first come, first serve.” But why should showing up early automatically entitle someone to a spot near the stage? The best vantage points should naturally go to the biggest fans, so don’t feel sheepish about muscling your way to the front just before the show begins.
Heck, even if you’re just a casual fan, you have a right to be up close for the songs you want to hear. Once you hear the opening licks of the band’s biggest hit, you have free license to rush the stage. Don’t let the groans of the trampled slow you down – to the victor go the spoils.
Tip 3: Preserve for Posterity
Memories are great, but they don’t always last. That’s why it’s of vital importance that you document as much as possible of every concert you attend. Today’s digital recording technology makes that task easier than ever – just click the record button on your camera or cell phone, hoist it over your head and let the magic happen. Don’t worry about blocking the view of people standing behind you – they can enjoy the show through your three-inch display screen. As for the band, they’ll appreciate the free publicity when you upload your grainy, barely audible footage to YouTube.
Tip 4: Party Like it’s 1999
Whoever said “everything in moderation” just didn’t know how to party. Folks like Keith Richards and Courtney Love didn’t get where they are by having a couple of Heinekens and calling it a night. When you’re out at a show, it’s your rock and roll responsibility to get royally ripped. Go ahead and smuggle in a fifth of Jim Beam, a couple of blunts and whatever else (brown acid, etc.) gets your groove rolling. Ladies, whip those tops off! Fellas, rock out with your cocks out! Stage dive! Body surf! Skank like a madman, even during the slow jams! There’s no shame in getting escorted out by security after projectile vomiting on the bass player’s Docs. At least you’ll have given all the squares something to talk about for the rest of the night.
Tip 5: Express Yourself
You may have heard talk of “set lists,” those needlessly restrictive guidelines bands impose upon themselves. It is your duty to free your heroes from these creative cul-de-sacs by incessantly hollering the names of songs that you and you alone wish to hear. There are two equally acceptable approaches. First, you can repeatedly demand the band’s most popular song. Chances are that they planned to include it anyway, but you simply can’t take the risk of them forgetting to play their biggest hit. Second, you can yell out various obscure tracks from their back catalog. Your request may not get played, but the rest of the crowd will surely be awed by your encyclopedic knowledge of the group’s b-sides and soundtrack contributions. And when all else fails, you can just yell “Freebird.” That joke never gets old!