I have been going to concerts for many many years, and one of the best parts of a show is rocking out right up front. But there’s nothing more frustrating than being surrounded by inexperienced show-goers who have no common sense or courtesy on how to behave. So here’s a list of a few points every music fan should know before entering the general admission section.
1. Dress appropriately. I’m not talking about whether or not you should wear the headlining band’s tee. Proper footwear is much more important. If you plan on standing in the back of the room, sandals or flip-flops are fine, but not if you’re going into the crowd. Everyone will be squished together, and someone will inevitably step on your toes. Or, if you crowd surf, you can say goodbye to any loose accessories. (I’ve actually seen an angry man at Warped Tour purposefully yanking the shoes off of crowd surfers and flinging them far away). On top of footwear, be sure to tie back long hair. There are few things in a crowd that annoy me more more than the pogoing girl right in front of me with huge, poofy hair that keeps getting into my mouth during the set.
2. If you’re tall, be polite. Of course, tall fans deserve a good spot just as much as short fans. But I have lost track of how many times a 6-foot tall guy will shove his way in front of my 5’3” friend, leaving her to stare at his back. The problem with standing room only means someone won’t be able to see very well at any point in time, but there are ways to make the situation less awkward. Be friendly to those around you, offer to let extremely “height-challenged” fans move in front of you, and ease the tension in any way possible. Because believe me, they’re whispering and glaring at you behind your back. And be aware of your actions and body—not that you can’t rock out, but don’t leave your arms in the air the entire set, or take off your hat. A nice tall person who looks out for those around him (and protects them from crowd surfers falling from the sky) will fare much better than the inconsiderate jerk who shoves his way in front by using his height.
3. Along those same lines, if you can’t see at first, just hold on a minute. Crowds are constantly shifting—people are moving, leaving the crowd, pushing their way up front. The view you have when you first arrive will undoubtedly change multiple times over the course of the night, so don’t panic. Try to shift to the side, or just wait it out. You’ll be able to see soon enough.
4. Make friends with the people around you (unless those people happen to be idiots). One of the best parts of a live show is interaction, both with the music and with fellow fans. Maybe you won’t become best friends for life with the chick in the local band T-shirt next to you, but striking up a conversation with her will help kill time between set changes, and having a friendly relationship with those around you can only make the night more enjoyable. It’s always good to have each others’ backs whenever a crowd surfer or pushy teenybopper appears. Plus, who knows. Maybe you will make a new friend.
5. Don’t be a drunken moron. If shelling out $9 for a beer is worth it to you, that’s cool, but there’s no need to get trashed. It’s better to remain sober and remember every epic moment of the performance. You can drink too many Budweisers at home for free. But if you insist on getting wasted, stay out of the way of the fans who just want to appreciate the music. Don’t throw your cup into the crowd, don’t scream obnoxiously, and be as considerate as an intoxicated fan at a rock show can be. Just because you’re drunk doesn’t mean it’s ok to ruin the show for everyone else.
6. The same thing goes for you too, sober folks. Be a decent human being and refrain from ruining the show for everyone else. It’s ok to dance, rock out, and sing along, but be considerate. Sing, don’t scream along—it’s great that you know the words, we all do. But we came to hear the band, not you. Plus when you mess up the words, it only makes you look foolish. And if you don’t know the song, listen or talk quietly (or as quietly as possible in such a loud atmosphere). Like I said, we came to hear the band, not your conversation with your friend about the great rager you went to last weekend. Enjoy the show, and let those around you do the same.
7. One of the most important things to understand about the crowd at a rock show: people WILL push. Don’t become outraged about every nudge from the person behind you. It’s perfectly fine to block someone from pushing past you, or to feel irritated that the guy behind you insists on forcing his way to the front row when there’s clearly no room. But don’t whine about it to your friends the whole night. It only makes you look inexperienced, like you’ve never been to a concert before. Just deal with the pushing, or get out of the crowd.
8. Finally, if no one’s moving, don’t try to crowd surf. They’re not expecting you, and it’s dangerous to fling a heavy body on top of many people’s unsuspecting heads. At least if there is some moshing or jumping going on in the center, the fans will be better prepared to catch the crowd surfer. But if everyone is standing still, don’t bother. You’ll end up being dropped on your head or hurting an innocent bystander.
So there’s my list so far. I’ll add it to it if I think of anything else!