Here is what our friend Randi Brent Starrett would call a “pro tip” for those attending live shows this weekend, courtesy of Mr. Bob Weir.
Seriously, be kind to your neighbors and respectful of the performers. You would never dream of going to a symphony concert and letting out a whoop when the bassoon player hits a high note. You would not sit through the ballet carrying on a conversation with your buddy next to you. Why do you think it is OK at a bluegrass, rock, or any other show?
That person next to you worked their ass off somewhere to scrape together money for a ticket so they could enjoy the music. Respect that. Don’t for a moment think just because they don’t say anything to you that means they are cool with your chatter. Many of our friends are so peaceful, kind, and non-confrontational, that they will move, or just put up with it. That is not fair. They should not be, in effect, punished for being nice people. You are taking advantage of their kindness, and that is just as rude as the talking itself.
We mention this today, because this morning we encountered threads on two different band’s fan group pages, complaining about the obnoxious, incessant talk that folks experienced last night.
On the Camp Greensky page, one guy told how he asked someone to quiet down and their reaction was to complain to security about him. Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot?
Talk to the artists privately, they will tell you the same thing. It bothers the hell out of a lot of them. They need to speak out.
At a Danny Barnes show earlier this year, Good ol’ Danny told the audience the band was not going to play real loud and invited them to come closer to the stage to listen to the music. It was subtle, but it made the point. And it helped, some.
But it is going to take more. Audience members who are mad as hell have to make it known that they are not going to take it any more. No, that does not mean violence. Don’t twist our words. But it does mean being assertive and willing to call out offenders.
It is honestly possible that a lot of those folks simply do not know that what they are doing is wrong. Let’s face it, manners are not taught the way they used to be. If Momma never taught you better, lots of others are doing it, and nobody tells you different, how are you to know?
You can teach them nicely. Hold a finger to your lips and sort of mime “shhhhh!” Or maybe, “Excuse me, could you keep it down a little. I’m trying to listen to the music.”
Or feel free to be more smart-assish, “I’m sorry, should we get the band to turn down the music so you can use your inside voice to talk to your friend?” (Of course that one doesn’t work at outdoor events)
Try to be nice. At least at first. Firm, but gentle.
Don’t be shocked if a chatterbox becomes indignant when asked to stop talking while the band is playing. We once suggested to someone, between songs, that her and her girlfriend might enjoy their conversation better if they took it up the street to a coffee shop since the band was being rude and playing so loud that they had to shout to hear each other.
She actually suggested that if we wanted to be able to hear the band, we should have gotten there early to get up front. At the time, we were in the third row, having left a couple shorter folks in front of us so they would be able to see.
So yeah, we get why some folks who might be a little more shy (or a little less an asshole) than us might be uncomfortable confronting the members of the chatty class. But it has to happen.
We are convinced that if all of us who love to hear the music without having to learn the details of our neighbor’s vacation at the same time simply band together, we can fix this.
Artists, you need to be a part of this. You don’t need to go all Bobby on the crowd. Just something simple, like Danny Barnes did that night in Philly, would do the trick.
If artists made some sort of simple statement at the start of the show, some folks might get the messgae. Especially if they start hearing it on a regular basis.
Wouldn’t hurt for the venues to get involved, too. Maybe a simple reminder printed on tickets, or some clever posters strategically placed. How about an announcement when the artists are being introduced?
Such statements would also firmly establish some sort of “moral authority” that might embolden some shy folks to at least turn around and give the chatter behind them a dirty look.
A lot of people have kicked around t-shirt ideas. We designed one last year that we almost had made. At the time, Mrs. BGChronicle worried the big STFU on the back was too aggressive.
A year later, we bet we could sell her one.
Matter of fact, if we ever get around to launching an actual Brewgrass Chroncile swag store, we might just revisit that design (if we do, proceeds will go to some non-profit. Is there an Institute for Crowd Courtesy?)
Anyhow, that is our rant.
Lots of incredible shows out there this weekend. Let’s all do our part to see to it we are not the only ones who enjoy them. Be kind to one another. Be polite to your neighbors and to the band.
Save your talk for between songs or after the show. Better yet, meet your friends somewhere for a good pre-game beer or three and get your talking out of the way before the show.