Friday, 7 October 2011

Gigs, And The Appropriate Etiquette

I've been going to gigs for a long time. I've been in near enough every performance hall, pub, club, bar, venue in the west of Scotland. I've seen all sorts of musicians, and interacted with all sorts of crowds. I've endured pints raining down on me at The Barrowlands. I've endured elbows in the face during mosh pits. I've endured people standing at an all seating event. I've endured the inevitable "Can I squeeze past please my boyfriend is just up there?". And hand on heart I've also been responsible for the above scenarios on occasion. But one thing, ONE THING, above all that I cannot stand is talking during the performance.

It's a debate which has been around for longer than I have. Most recently The Pop Cop had an article featuring views from acoustic artists Beerjacket and Amber Wilson. I've been meaning to post this for a while so hear goes.

1st of September this year me and my wife went through to Edinburgh to see one of our mutually favourite bands, The Arcade Fire, play at Edinburgh Castle. We'd been excited about it for a while, and in the week before had all three Arcade Fire albums on play constantly. The day came, and off we headed on the train to make a day out of it and have some lunch and a few beers beforehand.

The band were on top form, and 'Wake Up', 'No Cars Go' and 'Ready To Start' were personal highlights. And the setting. Well you'd be hard pushed to see a better backdrop than Edinburgh Castle all lit up.

But the one thing which will sour the whole experience for me, was the group of four middle age (they always seem to be middle aged...) blokes behind us who consistently talked through the whole gig. I've also suffered the same fate at Damien Rice at Edinburgh Queens Hall, Guillemots at The Barrowlands, Bell X1 at King Tut's and many many more.

There's been so much said about it that I'm probably rehashing rather than adding anything new, but it really grinds my gears.

Firstly, why pay a large sum of money to not even listen to what it is you have paid for. Yes lots of stage shows are impressive, and all you need to appreciate them are working eyes, but it's the sound, the music that hooked you to a band in the first place. If you are just going to talk to your mate throughout, then you'd be better sitting in listening to the CD. Live performances give us subtle nuances, little twists and alterations that enhance the listening experience.

Secondly, it's completely and utterly disrespectful, not only to the performing act, but to the other people around you. Stop being so goddamn self centred to think that your conversation cannot wait until after the artist has finished.

Thirdly, it always seems to be during the new songs or less well known songs that talking becomes more prominent. This leads to me assume those who indulge in a gab don't really care about the music. They might have bought a ticket on the back of a strong single, or maybe one particular album they liked. The songs you don't know are the ones you should be paying extra special attention to, because that's where your musical tastes will grow and develop. Yeah it's great to sing along to the best known song, but weren't you expecting that anyway?

And lastly, sadly I think drink does have a part to play in it. Again, hands up, I've been drunk at gigs before. But I also realise that gigs are not just a convient place to go for a night out. It's not a bar or a club. It's an art performance. By all means, get sozzled afterwards, but you wouldn't go to an art gallery drunk, you wouldn't go to the theatre drunk, so why turn up at a gig drunk. Have some self restraint.

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