Don't Be an Asshole or: A Few Words On The Subject of Concert Etiquette
Hi, my name is Mike Escoto and I like music. In particular, I enjoy live music. As you might reasonably guess, my enjoyment of live music is why I contribute to Up on the Sun, in addition to co-running my own blog, Electric Mustache. It's a little crazy, but I actually get paid to go see concerts. Whether or not I actually deserve to get paid for my reviews is a discussion for another time, or, you know, the comments section of this blog post.
"You're not wrong, Walter, you're just an asshole."
By my count I've reviewed 34 concerts for Up on the Sun since 2009, and I've probably been to another 30-or-so in that time frame either for another publication or my own personal enjoyment. Most have been enjoyable; a few have been amazing and a few have been total shit.
Usually, my enjoyment is based on the performance of the band or musician I'm going to see that night. That is, in my opinion, how it should be. But occasionally, external factors creep in. Sometimes it's the sound mix, or the lighting, but lately, I've noticed an increasing problem at the shows I go to. It's likely a problem you have experienced yourself.
That problem? Assholes.
I realize that whether or not someone is being an asshole is subjective. Just because you think someone is being an asshole doesn't really mean they are. For example: Someone steps on your beer, or steps on your foot, or bumps into you causing you to spill your beer. Your immediate reaction is that this dude is being an asshole, but you know, they probably aren't. Concerts are crowded events, the dude just bumped you. No harm, no foul. He apologies, and all is forgiven. (Of course if he doesn't apologize, or at least give you an apologetic head nod, you might be dealing with an asshole.)
But sometimes, there's no getting around it. Sometimes the asshole-ishness is undeniable.
This is the kind of asshole I ran into on Saturday night's Wilco show.
As Wilco began their performance at Gammage Auditorium, a couple sitting in front of my wife and me stood up and started to dance. This in and of itself was not a problem. I know it can be annoying when someone blocks your view by standing -- but that's honestly just a hazard you're going to run into at concerts. You can stand, too, or sit, and just deal with it. So it goes.
But the problem wasn't dancing; it was the manner in which they were dancing. It was as if they were doing their own interpretive dance to Wilco's "One Sunday Morning," and it was completely distracting, something akin to John Malkovich's dance of despair and disillusionment in Being John Malkovich.
Given how much energy they used up in just the first few songs of Wilco's set, I assumed there was no way they would keep it up, and would eventually tucker themselves out. But, amazingly, midway through the show, they were showing no signs of slowing down. Judging by the looks of everyone else around me, these two were just as distracting to everyone else as they were to me. I felt the need to say something.
The question was should I? After all, they had paid for their tickets just like I did. Who am I to tell them how to enjoy the show? They're just enjoying the music, right? I decided to not say anything and instead just silently judge them in my head. I'd try to enjoy the show as best I could.