Proper Concert Etiquette

You’ve got your tickets, got your merch, and now it’s time to rock out - properly. Follow Modern Manners Guy’s 3 tips to successfully attend a live concert.

Richie Frieman,
August 27, 2012
Episode #214

Proper Concert Etiquette

In addition to my work as Modern Manners Guy, I’m also a music journalist, having interviewed over 1,000 musicians from all over the world since 2007. From Grammy winners to the up-and-comers still hustling CDs from the back of their beat up van, I’ve had the rare chance to speak to some very interesting musicians over the years. As well, I’ve had the good fortune to attend many live concerts of all shapes, sizes, and fans. Oh yes, the fans – the lifeblood of any musician.  Although some fans will do anything to see their favorite band succeed, others end up becoming more of a distraction to the show.

So before you throw on that “vintage t-shirt” you just bought for $40 from the band’s Facebook page and head out to see them play, check out my top 3 Quick and Dirty Tips for how to behave at a concert:

Tip #1: Being a Fan Doesn’t Mean You’re in the Band

I have a lot of friends who take ownership of their favorite bands.  They know all the lyrics, every band members’ nicknames, who they’re currently dating, and their favorite kinds of pizza. And of course, they own all the rare, limited release live recordings (in the original vinyl, naturally).

Okay, okay, I get it, you win…you’re the better fan. But even though you’ve reached ultimate fanhood, it doesn’t mean you get the green light to make all the rules at a concert. Take the guy who gets mad at you because you sang the wrong lyrics to a song. Or the girl who gets mad at you because you yell out, “I love you!” to the lead singer that she’s in love with and how dare you take her man! OMG! Even worse is the guy who keeps yelling out “Play [INSERT NAME OF SONG]!” over and over again, and when the band finally does play the song, he takes total credit for it. As if they were actually listening to his request – please!

When you go to a concert, regardless of how big a fan you are, don’t think you get to control how the show goes. Your ticket is just a ticket to the show, like everyone else’s. It’s definitely not a ticket to be a part of the band or their crew. When you go to a concert, be a fan - be the best fan - but don’t ruin it for others because you feel that you’ve reached the upper echelon of fanhood. Your tattoo of the band’s logo isn’t a lifetime VIP pass. People pay a lot of money for a few hours of entertainment and many times a great concert is something you never forget. Don’t ruin that memory for some other fan. Let them sing whatever verse they like, let them proclaim their love for whomever they want, and allow them to just have fun! That’s right fun! You wacky fan camped out for two days to make sure you get a good seat—you remember that word?

Tip #2: Don’t Get Wasted

Wait a second, wait a second, WAIT. A. SECOND!

What do you mean? I can’t get wasted? Way to be a buzzkill MMG!

Settle down my Jello shot-loving friends, I’m not saying you can’t drink or get tipsy and enjoy a good time. But you never want to be that person. We’ve all seen them and some of us may have even snapped a photo of them face down next to the Port-A-Potty. Heck, some of you may have even been that person. Admit it!

Take this one guy at a concert I attended last year, who was a mega-fan. He had the band shirt, the band bracelet, and even the band’s beer holder, which apparently had been getting plenty of use that night. I was standing about 20 feet from him when a few bouncers came up and kindly asked him to step to the back. The bouncers received a complaint that he spilled his drink on a young woman as he stumbled out of the bathroom. Of course given his inebriated state, the 4 giant bouncers didn’t intimidate him. He yelled at them that he bought these tickets months ago, spent over $200 for the night, etcetera. Guess how this one ended? I’ll give you a clue: The bouncers were very good at their job.

That’s a perfect example of how drinking at concerts can go terribly wrong. If you get kicked out or even black out, how is that fun? It’s the same as buying the ticket and then just ripping it up. I never understood why people would want to get so wasted that they don’t remember anything about the show the next day. 

When you go to a concert it’s totally OK to kick back with some drinks – I certainly do. But you need to know your limit and be realistic. As well, the venues are well-staffed with people ready to pounce on anyone who mess things up for others. Take my example about the belligerent drunk guy. I’ll never forget the look on the faces of the 4 bouncers who surrounded him. They were just waiting for him to give them a reason to toss him out of there like a rag doll. Which, after one shove from the drunk guy, they were able to do easily. And afterwards, there was a sigh of relief not only from the people around him, but even from his own friends. One completely wasted person can totally ruin it for a large crowd and if you’re that person, just do everyone a favor and stay home.

Tip #3: Go Solo

As a music journalist, I’ve had to attend tons of concerts by myself. Of course, I’d much rather have someone with me to enjoy it together, laugh, sing, and have a good time. But sometimes things come up and you’re forced to make a decision: stay home or go it alone.

Take a concert I went to earlier this year. A friend and I had been waiting many months to attend the show. We talked about it all the time and counted down the days. When the night finally came, my friend came down with a nasty stomach bug and couldn’t go. I tried to find someone else to take his place, but it was so last minute that no one was available. So I had to make a choice. I decided to go alone and I loved it.

To me, music and the arts are things you should never pass up. It’s totally proper to go solo and still have a blast. You never know who you’re going to meet at the show; an old friend or even a new friend. Even if you’re not the most social person in the room, you should still go and enjoy the experience.  Don’t miss out on an opportunity because of fear or shyness or any other reason. Take a chance—what do you have to lose?

Do you have a great story about concert etiquette? Post all the details in the comment section below or on the Modern Manners Guy Facebook page.

As always, if you have another manners question, I look forward to hearing from you at manners@quickanddirtytips.com. Follow me on Twitter @MannersQDT, and of course, check back next week for more Modern Manners Guy tips for a more polite life.

Fans at a Concert and Drunk Man images from Shutterstock