Earlier this week I was reminded of a birthday: The Joshua Tree turned a ripe 24 years old on March 9th. In the past I’ve used 1987 as a barometer as far as my love of music is concerned. It was the year I really began to attend live shows and truly discover the important role music would play in my life. It was also the year I turned 14 and received a gift from my parents of 4 tickets to see Bono and company perform the songs from their critically-acclaimed record. It seems impossible, but I’ve been going to shows for a quarter of a century.
Along with revisiting memories of the many live gigs I’ve seen (and being stymied by the amount of money I figure I’ve spent over the years on tickets and associated swag) I had the opportunity to see Mogwai this week as well. They killed, as usual. They were mega-controlled and exquisitely loud but never noisy, as usual. The audience was quiet at the appropriate moments, everyone respected their neighbor’s personal space, no one yelled “Freebird!” and, aside from a jackass who insisted on smoking despite being told not to by way of a security officer’s flashlight in the eyes repeatedly, it was the perfect night. A great band and 750ish well-behaved strangers all enjoying the moment? How UNusual.
Therefore, given the aforementioned anniversary/birthday and my recent amazing post-rock experience, I feel behooved to go over some basic rules derived from my real-world knowledge. Band and human names have been omitted to protect the not so innocent:
- Do not bring your own beverage into a venue, especially in a baby food jar. It’s looks gross and is terribly unsanitary. Bartenders have to eat. Do your job. Buy good whiskey (or Coca Cola) at the bar and don’t forget to tip.
- If you decide to take your significant other with you despite his or her disinterest in, well, everything, at least school them on apropos behavior. Music doesn’t automatically mean “DANCE!” Sometimes it is just for listening.
- When dancing, watch the elbows. Nothing ruins someone’s good time like a flailing arm to the earhole.
- At festivals, select a designated meeting point for gathering afterward. Don’t forget where it is. Write that shit down. Respect your driver and be prompt. She might tire of waiting for your sweaty, gin-soaked self and leave you behind.
- If you’re in a band, play your most recent, smashing hit first. This satisfies your new and old listeners. Not everyone wants to hear your back catalogue, plus it thins the crowd for your hardcore fans.
- Eat beforehand and don’t consume too much wine at the venue. You might forget parts of the best show of your life. Remember, you have to navigate home and public transport has dangerous things like escalators and people who like to get stabby on late night travelers, particularly drunk ones with tinnitus.
- If you are a musician, keep the onstage drink within a reasonable limit. Nobody in your audience wants to watch you fall or forget your lyrics. It’s embarrassing. Save the mind-erasing, heavy drink for immediately after the gig so fans are able to convince you that you know who they are and you invite them backstage to hang out with your more talented bandmates.
- Don’t buy a tshirt at the merch table before the band performs, go to the toilet and put it on immediately. Everyone knows you like the band; you’re at the venue to see them. Moreover, don’t put it on over your denim jacket. That just looks stupid.
- Talk to other ticket holders in line and inside the venue. You have a lot in common even if you don’t know one another. You just might meet your new most favorite person in the whole wide world.