About a hundred years ago, before giving birth to 3 children and moving to the Suburban wastelands, I worked in the music industry. I was in sales and marketing for WFNX radio and then worked for one of my clients, BMG Music. Although I no longer have my hand in that world, I have always tried to stay current with up and coming acts. I love finding my “new favorite” band –which for me, can happen as often as weekly. Especially this time of year. It’s Spring in Boston, which means that after a long winter of writing, bands begin to tour again. I still love seeing live shows.I love being close to the music, feeling it with my whole body–not just my ears. I love meeting other fans who are as passionate about their music as I am–and learning from them. Sometimes I will leave a show on such a high that can last for days–James, Stereophonics, Stellastarr, Buffalo Tom are few that come to mind. Other times I am sorely disappointed in a band that I thought was phenomenal , was just OK live–I loved Jem’s album a few years back and she was just awful live.
Saturday night I saw one of my favorite bands–Spoon–at the House of Blues. I was so excited to see these guys, and hear Britt Daniel’s scratchy voice croon over his sometimes purposely distorted guitar riffs. For the most part is was a great show –although they were seriously lacking in a horn section which they had in New York, that would have added great depth to songs like the Underdog. I think I would have just skipped playing that song altogether as without the horns it sounded drab and ridiculous.
When I see live bands I am always on the lookout for that “stellar” moment. The moment when they take one of their songs and expand it until you think your head will explode…or they bring in a guest dancer from Zimbabwe or freshly picked guitar player from outside on Landsdown Street …or they interact so convincingly with the audience they you are sure you will be having beers with them after the show. There were no stellar moments for me at the Spoon show. I think they must have been present, but unfortunately I missed them because I was so irritated with the crowd that I couldn’t focus on the stage. It was a sold out show at The House of Blues, which is my 4th favorite place to see a band–the Paradise and the Middle East, and TT the Bears being in my top 3. Any venue bigger than HOB I usually avoid. I just can’t see the point in sitting in a seat to watch a band, it makes no sense to me.
So, because of my irritation with the crowd I have come up with a few simple of rules for club/concert goers that will make it a much nicer experience for everyone. Feel free to use these for yourself or pass these hints on to your children who will soon be attending these shows with me as they are getting older. I plan on making sure my kids hold these rules near and dear to their hearts. If I teach them nothing else in their lives, I certainly can train them how to be good fans:
#1. Leave Your Pocketbooks Home: Girls, please, is it really necessary to carry your Jessica Simpson Hobo purse with you? I am so tired of bumping into your bag every time I try to turn around. They stick out under your arm so far behind you that you can’t even see or feel who you are hitting. If everyone left their purses home the band could probably sell an extra 100 tickets for all the space they take up. What is in there that is so needed at a 2 hour show? A blow-dryer? All you need is license, cash, cell phone, and a small lip gloss for touch ups. These items could fit quite nicely into your pants pocket. Oh you say you have no pockets? This brings me to….
#2. Lose the Stretch-Pants; Not just because they have no pockets, because honestly, do you think those look good? And for the love of Gucci please do not pair the stretch pants with Peter-Pan boots. Learn this now. Any fashion from the 80’s was a nightmare then, now it’s a recurring nightmare. The only person who can actually wear stretch pants and look good is Angelina Jolie and have you ever seen her in them? No. Becuase it is seriously un-cool and Angelina is the epitome of coolness in women. So when dressing for a night at a club to see a band think “What would Angelina wear?”. I have rarely seen her in anything other than black jeans and a t-shirt. That is your best bet.
#3a Do Not Sing unless asked to by the band. This is a serious pet-peeve of mine. Although I can tell that you know all the words and have probably studied them for hours on lyrics.com, I have come to hear the band–not you. If the band asks for a group sing-a-long then by all means belt it out, but otherwise please sing under your breath, or better yet ,in your own head.
#3b. Shut Up. I realize there are people you may need to talk to, your friends are there with you and you may have comments about the band, but if you need to tell your friend a story about what happened to you at the 7-11 last week then move to the back of the club away from the rest of us who came to hear the band.
#4 Position Yourself According to Your Habits and How into the Band You Are . If you are really into the band then by all means you should be standing down on the floor in front of the stage. If that is the case then you should be so enthralled that the thought of missing a single song should make you anxious and therefore you stay on the floor where you belong. To you I suggest that you do your drinking before the show so as to avoid unneccessary trips to the bar. If you want to listen but will be getting drinks throughout the show then position yourself closer to the bar or midway between the stage and bar. If you could give a crap about the band then either stay at the bar or better yet go next door to the Irish Pub and wait for your friends. I get really tired of trying to watch the stage and having the same people bang past me from the floor to go get another beer and then slosh past me again to get back down on the floor usually losing half their drink on my sleeve. Pick your spot and stay there. The show is not that long.Oh and another thing….
#4b. Do Not Send The Largest Person in Your Group up for Drinks. Seriously. If I have to make room for someone to “slide” by me 40 times during the show it would make it a lot easier if it were some petite little girl instead of, well…you know what I mean…
#4 Careful What You Eat Before. Guys, save the Chile Cheese Fries and Keg beer for after the show. Do us all a favor, please. I have never been able to handle crowd farts. Everyone looks around to make sure that it’s obvious that it wasn’t them…but it had to come from somewhere…
#5 Know Your Spacial Relations. Finding your own space at a sold out show can be tricky. Sometimes it hard to find an area that is open with a direct sight line to the stage. And often time you have to move a little to make room for someone standing to your left or right. I have no problem doing this when the person gives a smile and lets me know that they are just trying to grab a little space to see the show. If on the other hand, your are drunk or obnoxious and push me while you dance/jump around without an apology and then invite your 5 rude friends to come stand in front of me in the space I made for you alone, then we have a problem. My friend Joyce taught me the “club stance” years ago which is standing straight, arms crossed with legs separated. This way you take up some physical space while creating a strong foundation for balance if any loser decides to knock into you.
Saturday night I watched a very tall guy and his shorter girlfriend walk into the crowd. He actually checked to see who was behind him, realized he was blocking their view and moved to the back of the crowd. His girlfriend looked back at him askance and he motioned with his hand over his head to say, “I am too tall to stand up there.” This guy understood his own space. I later saw them positioned near the bar, her on a ledge above him so they could both see. I also watched a girl in stretch pants stand directly in front of me when there was plenty of space to both my left and right. She was promptly told to “move” by my friend, Gina. And she did.
#6 Get a Room. Really. I am sure that you guys love this band and probably make out to them all the time but I don’t need you standing in front of me sucking face so I have to move left and right as you do just to see past you to the stage.
Well, that’s it for now. I think if everyone were to follow these simple rules, the world would be a happier place…the club world anyway. Stay tuned for actual band reviews. It’s going to be a busy Spring and as I do realize that this is an expensive habit–so is knitting–and I think music is a lot more fun.