FT5: Show Pas

0605top5coverFirst, let me assure you that the plural of faux pas is indeed faux pas; it’s just like the word deer. Now, there has been a lot of recent discussion around the ATH camp about proper rock show etiquette, so after careful deliberation, I opted to lay out my Top Five Faux Pas; these are the things you shouldn’t be doing when you attend a rock show, or really any social event where a stage is involved.  If you find that you commit these atrocities while in attendance at a rock show, you should definitely consider reevaluating your behavior; this is for the benefit of everyone I assure you.

5. Tall Guy in the Wrong Place

Hello there, my name is Mr. Tall, but most of my friends just call me Captain Vertical.  I’m sorry, am I standing in your way?  I really like this band, and I came to the show early so I could get a good spot.  Yeah, I can see from all the way in the back of the bar, but I really want to plant my boat-sized feet right here in front of you, therefore blocking your vision of the band, you too, adore. Sorry short people, but I’m not going to move to the back where it would be most appropriate for me to view the show.  I’m going to get as close to the stage as possible with my freakishly large body and piss off every single person that happens to be hindered by my height, which is all of you hobbits.

stagerushers4. Stage Rushers

The show is about ten minutes under way, and the headlining act is just starting to tear it up.  By this time the entire crowd is jam packed with people, and we’re all enjoying ourselves quite a bit.  Just as you are about to cheer on your favorite band, you feel a hand on your hip, pushing you aside, then an unwanted elbow.  At first you are shocked at the audacity of this person shoving their way to the front of the stage, but then they reach back their hand, and suddenly it’s a throng of people, usually under-aged trying to get as close as they can to the front of the stage.  The problem is, they can’t make it to the front because the show is full, so they happen to stop right in front of you, probably standing on your feet–and since they obviously have no respect for show etiquette, you can bet they chatter like squirrels for the entirety of the set.

cellphone3. Cell Phone Recorders

Sure, you want to capture that perfect moment of the show with your brand new camera phone, I get it. I actually don’t mind you holding up your camera for a brief moment to capture the show; if I weren’t a cheap skate and had a camera phone I would do the same.  But, then there are those folks who hold up their phones to record the hit for their friends.  First, you do realize that the sound quality sucks right? So they probably can’t even tell what song it is, and they are now annoyed too.  Second, your friend didn’t come to the show, so odds are they didn’t care enough to hear the band play that song live, and if they did, they could use the Internet to find a recording of that song, so get your phone out of my face and just watch the show already.

crowdparticipation2. Crowd Participation

There are easily two sides to this topic: you can either be a fan of enthusiasm or you can be anti-enthusiasm.  Personally, I find myself sitting exactly in the middle of this issue. I will sing along, under my breath so as not to ruin the show for you, and move from side to side, which means I am not one of those crossed-arm anti-participation folks who refuse to enjoy a band despite their best interests.  Still, I’m also not willing to jump around and scream and shout so that you can’t hear the band that you love because all you hear is my deep man voice singing off-key in your ear; and while I sing, I really like to jump up and down which probably blocks the show for those people behind me, but that doesn’t matter because I spilled my beer all over them.  Wait, where is my beer? Oh, that’s right, it’s all over the strangers standing next to me.

talkers1. The Talkers

Now that text messaging and G-Chat have successfully rendered us a population with the inability to communicate with other human beings, we should look at how this carries over to the rock world.  You are a show talker, be it with a group of friends or on your cell phone. You know these people, and odds are, you might be one of these people; I abhor these people.  You came to the show, paid your money, or got in for free, and you decided that your conversation on AIM was not yet complete, so you chose to stand in the middle of the crowd during the set by one of my favorite bands and carry on said conversation.  I shoot you looks of disgust, but it does nothing to hinder your conversation; you are oblivious to the fact that we are trying to enjoy a show around you without being subjected to the various reasons your parents are cutting you off because they think you are wasting all of your money, when in fact you are spending it on your perfectly reasonable cocaine habit.  Just shut up or go home; I want to watch this show.

I would be an ass if I didn’t fess up to one or more of these at some point, but most of those were during my young rock show years.  Where do you fit in with regards to rock show etiquette?  Did we leave something out that really annoys you?  Let us know, and we promise we’ll be more understanding.


  • the stage rushers are THE WORST. akin to people on the freeway who merge at the last possible moment.

    good post.

  • no joke…. like the people trying to get on HWY 71 from SW parkway right freakin’ now.

  • The chair camping phenomenon has been well documented on the ACL Threads, so this isn’t a spot for it.

    How about these, can we get a ruling on the following:

    What about the guy who buys the shirt at the show, and then proceeds to wear the shirt at the show?

    What about the song request guy “PLAY (the single)!!! WOOOOOOOO!” even if they played it first to get it out of the way, and he missed it because he was late.

    The WOOOOOOO guy/girl in general, during quiet parts, a capella parts, acoustic parts….

  • i hate people who place their blankets on the front lawn. like festivals or really big shows (like rolling stones a few yrs back). i actually dont mind them placing these blankets but when I am close to the stage and they get mad at me for invading their place “dude!! your standing on my blanket!! get the f out!!”. i mean… these people are 20 ft away from the stage, what did they expect?? if theyre going to do this, go to the very back where there is more people with blankets

  • I was recently at the Melvin’s show at emo’s and had a pretty bad crowd experience. All five of the above mentioned “don’ts” were happening in full effect and could not be avoided. Granted, I knew exactly what I was getting into and what to expect from a crowd that would form for such a show, and that was definitely part of the appeal for me that evening. I was really wanting to go to an old school show and have a quality old school freak out. Mission accomplished!

    I was being extremely patient with everyone around me that night, i mean after all, it was the F-ing Melvins. But the straw that broke my camels back was when I got lit on fire. During the whole show, and frankly every show that I have been to outside at emo’s, i noticed people lighting up smokes and puffing away. I normally don’t give a crap if you are lighting up around me but seriously people, if you are elbow to elbow and front to back with a large crowd of people, please take it somewhere else. Not only does it suck to get a ton of smoke blown directly in your face or ear but don’t you think it could be a little dangerous as well considering the circumstances?

    Well I found out how dangerous it actually is that night. During some pretty rocking songs the crowd got pretty rowdy. There was this dude smoking in front of me, he was super tall by the way, that got pushed into this short girl in front of him. His lit cigarette totally got jabbed into this girls hair and singed the crap out of it. It reeked the place up instantly. The girl didn’t notice and the dude kept on smoking. I was like “DUDE!, that was messed up” and his reply was “What, you never been to a punk show before”. I was so livid with this douche but couldn’t do anything other than throw around a couple elbows his way intentionally.

    Right after that happened, this group of really loud tween chicks behind me got pushed up into my back for a good amount of time. I recall the girls saying “Oh Shit” a couple of times but paid them no mind. Then I felt a couple of people patting my back down. I turned around to confront the situation to figure out what the hell was going on. It so happens that one of the girls smashed her cigarette into my back and her cherry stuck to my shirt leaving me with a pretty lame smoldering problem. The chicks totally bailed and others stepped in when they noticed my little problem and tried to help me out. After that, I was so pissed that I had to take a smoke break myself, only I took it outside.

    I didn’t let that ruin the remainder of the performance for me, but needless to say I was extremely upset with what was going on at that show. I was really stoked that I didn’t suffer any burns on my skin but one of my favorite vintage western shirts gained some new breathing room to the size of a silver dollar. Still cant believe I was left smoldering away.

    So #6 on the list for me would have to be smokers in a packed area. Boooo on the people burners

  • In case you need an alternate:

    “You’re gonna wear the shirt of the band you’re gonna go see?? Don’t be that guy.”

    enough said.

  • Ramalamahamdam


    I think a little band called All-American Rejects, whom YOU used to manage violates all five of these Faux Passsss. I’ll be sure to be singing in my 12-inch voice while “accidentally” spilling my beer and jumping on your back at the next Jay Retard show. Weiner, we used to be friends.

    Fuck you,

  • You say “I assure you” too often in this post, Nathan. Some English teacher you are. Also… We are still fighting. Don’t think that because you left early last night before we could finish it means that you’re in the free and clear. You are going down!

  • Wow, this post just got 100x more interesting.

    Popcorn is at the ready.

  • @Beth – I assure you, the war can continue, with you losing, much as you did last night while you were listening to Kings of Leon.

    @Ram – First, AAR can’t commit the faux pas as they are the band, not the audience. Second, there was no ill will intended, only the stating of my preference for show etiquette. Alas, I can’t make everyone happy, but I would love to hear your 12-Inch voice as I’m quite unsure what that is.

  • Well Nate, go enjoy your silly little bright eyes shows!!!!

  • You should also add the “Concert Cuddlers” to this list!

    I was stuck behind an over-touchy couple at a show last night and had to watch a guy in an NBA jersey and gold chain grab his date’s ass all night and never move farther away than 3 inches away from her, creating a human wall.

    Two heads are bigger than one.

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