Imagine this. You are in a large crowd, bright lights are flashing around you and You are blinded by the fog crawling off the stage in front of you. There is music blasting so loud that you are not sure if you will leave the venue with your hearing intact, yet somehow over all of that noise you can still hear the shrill shrieking of drunk underaged teens right in your ear.
This is not the first time you have been in a situation like this, but surprise — this is not the typical rager at your local Beta Sigma Apple Pie house. In fact, it is a concert, a concert with ticket prices that greatly dented your wallet but you spent months waiting in anticipation for. Your favorite artist has finally made a pit stop by your city after years of wondering when they would come, but all you can think about is when it is going to end so you can finally leave.
I have attended a variety of live performances over the past few years with the venues ranging from smaller, more intimate locations like Terminal West, which holds up to 600 people, to State Farm Arena, which holds up to 21,000 people and even Piedmont Park for Music Midtown — where the crowds are a completely different beast to conquer. However, the most recent concert I went to just this week ranks among the worst crowds I have ever stood in.
Concerts are events of relative chaos, and of course, you have to go into them with a realistic expectation of how the people around you are going to act, but I believe that it is a basic human decency to at least attempt to be respectful of the people around you while enjoying a live performance. They are occasions whenyou can let loose and have fun, but that doesn’t give people the right to be obnoxious towards others.
For example, one piece of advice that I would give readers is that you are very visibly underaged and in high school (as given away by the student I.D. the girls next to me were displaying in their wristlets), perhaps don’t experiment with alcohol for the very first time at a concert with a bustling crowd (also given away by their conversation) and multiple security guards hovering around.
Despite the fact that the venue staff were checking I.D.’s upon entry, and the girls clearly did not have wristbands, they somehow still obtained drinks. Consequently, as the show progressed for the night, so did their inebriation levels. Each beat of the drum prompted one of the girls to engage in a hair flip at such a violent angle that her locks went directly into my pupil, a minimum of fifteen times (I counted), as her elbow simultaneously pierced my appendix.
This was not the first time that I had been caught in the middle of a violent crowd, but honestly, if I had wanted to feel the experience of simultaneously being beaten up and also grinded on by a young girl, followed by having an entire beer spilled on me, I would have just waited until the weekend to go to a frat party on campus instead of paying $40 for a ticket and Ubering to a different city. It is inevitable that you are going to run into the people around you in such a small space, but if at a certain point you notice that you feel your arms digging into appendages more than you feel them waving in the air, I recommend that you use that as an opportunity to reevaluate your actions.
Another piece of advice I would give is to read the mood of the current song and how the artist is performing it, and then to react accordingly. For instance, during one of the more emotional moments of the set, the artist sat down at a piano and quieted down the crowd so she could begin a slow song that she had been building up to throughout the night.
Right as the artist was reaching the peak of the song, audibly sounding like she was on the verge of tears after bearing her soul to the crowd, another inebriated woman behind me decided that this would be the best time to scream, “ARRIBA!” The sudden scream very visibly startled the singer, and it took her a second to get back on track and continue singing.
Now do not get me wrong — I am not saying that people shouldn’t scream at concerts. After all, events like this are meant to be loud, but we must keep in mind that just as a concert is an opportunity for us to celebrate an artist and pour out our praise for their work, they are also the platforms through which people share the music that they have diligently been working on — it is a celebration of their art — and sometimes that can be an extremely vulnerable experience for the artist.
So not only should the audience be respectful of each other, but they should also be respectful of the artist. There is a time when the performer needs the chaotic energy and screaming from the crowd to fuel them through their performance, and then there are times where all they want is for people to just listen.
Of course, it would be unfair to ask for more discipline at concerts; that’s not why people or even I go to them. After all, that would defeat the purpose of attending an event where the main activities are dancing, singing and living in the moment, but is it too much to ask of concert-goers to allow the people surrounding them to enjoy the experience without the fear of being blinded or impaled?
Maybe it is, and in an ideal world I would just put in an online request for my favorite artists to come to my room and sing for me live, but until we enter that dystopian future, I will continue forking over my money to go to venues where I will be confined by large groups of rowdy people, just for the opportunity to have my ears blessed for a brief few hours.