I don’t think I’m particularly bad at air piano. Or air guitar.
I just don’t feel a need to stand up during a concert and show off my air instrument prowess and yell along with the lyrics while everyone else around me – including the entire row behind me and next to me – is sitting down. Sitting down, as in trying to watch the performer they shelled out big bucks to see.
Over the past few months, my husband and I have embarked on what we affectionately refer to as the “geriatric rocker tour.” Several legendary groups have come to the area over the past year, including The Who, the Rolling Stones and, most recently, Paul McCartney (in Milwaukee’s Miller Park.). In between those big-name acts, whose members are an average age of 65 to 70, we bought tickets to other concerts by icons of our youth, like Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band.
The point of going to these concerts and feeling the pinch of the high ticket costs is not only seeing these renowned rockers but to have a good time while we listen to their greatest hits. So I’ll be upfront here: I totally get that concerts are all about having a good time, and that often means singing along and dancing with the music. (In my case, it’s a dorky white girl bounce and head bob, but I digress.)
That said, I try to follow a certain concert etiquette, based on the type of concert, venue and audience. Judging by the majority of those I have sit near lately, so do a lot of people.
The problem comes when one person decides that it’s perfectly fine to get up, shout-sing songs off-key and shake their stuff, completely obstructing the view of the people behind them and banging into the people next to them.
Here’s my take on etiquette on standing up at a concert: if most people behind you and in your row are up, by all means, get on your feet and get into it. You better believe I did during “Satisfaction, “Hey Jude,” Who Are You?” and “Rock and Roll Never Forgets.”
But if you look around and you are the sole person or you and your friend/significant other are the only ones within at least 20 to 40 people standing – sit the hell down. Others paid good and often hard-to-come-by money to see the performance and it’s simply inconsiderate and rude to block their view.
At The Who concert, I got into a bit of kerfuffle with the woman in front of me who was playing major drunken air guitar and being generally obnoxious while everyone around her was sitting down. I noted that we had a lot of older people around us, so I politely pointed that out to the woman and asked her to sit down for a bit because everyone else was and couldn’t see the show.
She whipped around. "THIS IS A F-ING CONCERT, BITCH! GET OFF YOUR OWN F-ING ASS AND HAVE FUN FOR ONCE YOUR F-ING LIFE.”
We went back and forth a bit, and while I sweated for a moment that she might actually try to kick my ass (by the looks of her, she would have probably succeeded), I held my ground. I felt vindicated when some people around me chimed in and agreed. Two women seated near me thanked me.
This is usually only a phenomenon at concerts with post retirement-age Baby Boomer performers and their mature audience base that tends to sit more than stand during songs. At most other concerts I’ve been to (hello, Jimmy Buffett!) almost no one is really sitting down, so this point of stand-up, sit-down etiquette is moot. But still, when you’re in Rome or the Roman Coliseum, do as the Romans do.
Other Miss Mind Your Manners concert etiquette notes:
• I don’t really expect people to ask concertgoers around them before they light up their joint. But after you smoke six of them in a row right next to me and I give you The Look and The Sigh, maybe you can go out for your hot pretzel or nachos for a bit to let the air clear. Just saying.
• If you are smack dab in the middle of the row of 20 or more people, do you really have to get up and go to the bathroom in the middle of, say, “Yesterday,” “You Don’t Get Fooled Again”, “Livin’ on a Prayer” or “Jeremy”? Do you think you can maybe wait until we’re in between songs, we don’t all have to get up and lean back to let you through?
And for goodness sake, be careful with that flimsy cup of $12 beer as you are trying to make your way to your seat. You just might spill on someone and have to apologize profusely throughout the concert. Sorry again about that, Section 204, row 22, seat 3. At least I wasn’t doing air guitar at the time.