After years of attending concerts, I’ve discovered I have this strange effect on the people around me. No matter where in the audience I am, no matter how full or empty the space is, everyone will look at me as the official crossing guard on their path to the bar, to the front row, or out of the venue. I can stand in the back of an empty venue with a 10ft personal space radius, and someone will bump into me with their entire body weight. People will be working their way out of a crowd, make eye contact with me, and audibly go “we should leave through that girl. THROUGH HER. DO IT“. Maybe a little exaggerated, but it’s a fact among my friends/coworkers that this happens every time.
After a particularly heinous time last night at Disclosure, I’ve compiled an unofficial guide of the unspoken rules of concert attendance. Please feel free to print off the below list to hand out to offenders in the pit, or let me know if anything else should be added. I’m not an expert, just someone who seems to get accidentally punched in the face a lot at shows.
THE UNSPOKEN RULES OF CONCERT ATTENDANCE: AN UNOFFICIAL GUIDE
Don’t run through the crowd yelling “my friend is up there!” because you want to be closer to the front. I used to be that person, and then I grew up and realized it was rude. Your friend is not up there. On the off chance they are, I wish you luck.
Please, for the love of god, don’t lead with your elbows. Arms at your sides if you’re going to insist on pushing through. I don’t need internal organ damage, I just want to listen to the musical stylings of the Jonas Brothers.
Don’t rest your camera on someone else to keep it steady. One guy actually used my shoulder as a camera stand at Warped 2014 to film Mayday Parade. So uh…I guess it needs to be said.
If you’re going to dance, that’s fine! Enjoy yourself! Just try not to steadily move backwards with every jolt of your upper body. Everyone behind you doesn’t have anywhere to escape to. Soon they will suffer having their face unceremoniously buried into your back.
If someone needs help, you help them. Get them water, get them out of the audience, do what has to be done. This is an official rule in mosh pits, but should be just as valid through the rest of the crowd.
Decide what you want before you get to the front of the merch line. Everyone wants to get through the line and get back into the crowd, so don’t hold up the process by asking to see everything (unless there’s no line, in which case…use your discretion).
Don’t bring a backpack into a concert. Oh my god, what could you possibly need a whole backpack for at the Sound Academy? Warped Tour, Osheaga, Wayhome, okay I understand. You’re here for a whole day in the sun and need to survive. But at Neck Deep…are you just preparing yourself to get out of this town? If you’re going to insist, at least try not to pack it so full that you’re annihilating people under 5’4 when you turn around too quickly.
Don’t judge other people. A concert is supposed to be a place where music fans come together to enjoy a shared interest without judgement. Don’t make snide comments about someone in the audience who you don’t perceive to be part of this particular ~scene~. Even more importantly, don’t make comments about how someone is too young to be at this show and is probably a ~*fake fan*~. If we’re going to ridicule teenagers for everything they like, we can’t go back and ridicule them again for liking the things we actually approve of. Come on, everyone. Be kind.
Side note: Shout out to every single person at every single Twenty One Pilots concert in the history of time for being 100% accepting and not weirded out by how many people are crying. I’ve never felt as welcomed and as included as I have at their shows. Especially when I’m crying and everyone is just like “yep me too”.
Make friends with the people around you. You already know you have one thing in common, so there’s a good chance you could find some really good friends within that crowd. Of course, remember your parents’ rules about “stranger danger” and exhibit some caution, but don’t close yourself off to socializing because you didn’t arrive with the person next to you.
Sing loud. You paid to be here. This is your moment with your band. It sucks being on stage and seeing someone in the front row who is standing completely still and looking bored. Sing, dance, close your eyes and lose yourself in the song. You do you. It’s great. Everyone else is doing the same.
Final rule: don’t wear heels. I don’t care where you’re going after. I don’t care if you’re in love with the drummer (I feel you, though) and are going to hunt him down after their set ends. This is too risky. First of all, balancing while people are pushing is impossible in a shoe that isn’t perfectly flat. And if you impale someone’s perfectly good foot with your shoe…
There are absolutely more than 11 rules…I feel like I’ve just covered the basics. Plus some personal vendettas I may have (shout out to the camera guy, glad I could help you out).