This year's lineup:
- Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds (July 23 at Constitution Hall)
- KISS & Def Leppard (July 25 at Jiffy Lube Live)
- Heart (July 29 at Wolf Trap)
- Santana & Rod Stewart (August 19 at the Verizon Center)
- Motely Crue & Alice Cooper (August 22 at Jiffy Lube Live)
I have two go-to concert buddies: my brother, Scott and my friend, Anita. I've gone to many concerts with them both over the years including the time all three of us went to see They Might Be Giants at Ram's Head in Baltimore. They're both ideal concert buddies in that they'll go to just about any concert if asked even if they're not familiar with the band. Scott had never even heard of The Decemberists prior to seeing them with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra a few years ago. He liked them enough to go see them with me again the following year. And Anita - she knows exactly four songs by Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds but is going to see them with me on Wednesday anyway. I'm hopeful that she'll enjoy the band as much as I do.
What makes Scott and Anita exceptional concert buddies is their adherence to and support of my Old Lady Concert Rules. In fact, they've both helped to create some of these rules over the years. Just to be clear; just because I have concert rules does not mean that I am a killer of fun. I love fun and love concerts and the Rules help to ensure that we all do, in fact, have fun. Going to see live music is one of my favorite things to do and I enjoy it more when people around me aren't acting like morons or like we're sitting in their living room. Yes, we all enjoy live shows in our own ways but I feel like we need a social contract we can all agree to when we enter the arena or auditorium. That way, we all have fun and no one gets punched in the throat.
So in the interest of fun, let's review the Old Lady Concert Rules.
- Don't wear the shirt of the band you're going to see. Don't be that guy. (Thank you Jeremy Piven in PCU for this one.)
- No large bags or backpacks in the pit or other standing room shows. I get that in DC most of us come from work to shows during the week but do you really need that backpack while standing at the 9:30 Club? Doesn't your office allow you to lock up your laptop or something? I'm pretty short so your backpack and my face are probably at the same level so if you do have to bring it at least be aware of the people around you when you're dancing or whatever.
- I don't like to stand at concerts. This is why I buy seats whenever possible. I don't sit on the lawn and I don't buy tickets in the pit when there are perfectly good seats to be had. If you also spent the money for a seat, SIT IN IT. Unless every other human in the arena is standing, sit down.
- More pit/standing room etiquette: If you are late, stay to the back of the room. I got here at a reasonable time to get close to the stage and you should have too. This is especially jerky if the show has already started and you're elbowing your way to the front with your stupid backpack. Don't tell me your friend is at the front; she's not. You're lying. Show me your friend and I'll let you pass as long as I have confirmation that you know the person you've sort of gestured at.
- Someone has to be the DD for most shows. If you are that friend, congratulations you are a genuinely good person. I hope your friends do you a solid and take their turns at some point. However, being the DD isn't just about driving and making sure they get home safely. You have now been elected the babysitter of the group. I'm sorry to be the one to tell you this but it's true. So when your dudes start spilling beer on people and generally being jerks in public, as the sober one, people are going to look to you to rein them in. It's not fair but know that you have a special place in concertgoer heaven reserved for you.
- If you aren't the DD of your group and you've decided to imbibe at the show, please make sure to respect those around you by apologizing if you spill beer on them (especially in their hair - not that this has ever happened to me), know your limits (you don't need that fifth shot of Fireball and a beer chaser), and most importantly watch for stairs. Concerts don't need to end in a trip to the emergency room and a broken nose.
- Respect the space around you. Even at outdoor shows, it's still not Woodstock and most people aren't interested in your dancing and space invasion. Dance all you want and dance like no one is watching but be respectful of those around you who are also dancing like no one is watching.
- Don't use words like "merch" and "gig"- you're not with the band. And even if you are it makes you sound pretentious.
- Let's keep our cell phone use to a minimum. I like taking pictures of the shows I go to see as much as the next person but I also like watching the show that I'm seeing. So get your pictures done, take a selfie or two, and then put it away. Cell phones and lighters are not the same thing.
- Don't yell "Freebird." It's not funny, the band doesn't appreciate it, and chances are the vast majority of the audience doesn't get the reference anyway (depending on the show).
- Control the volume of your voice. This is especially true when you're at indoor shows at smaller venues; your voice carries and we can all hear you during breaks or softer songs. Listen to The Velvet Underground Live at Max's Kansas City for the perfect example of why this is a terrible thing to do at shows. Even if you're famous.
- And finally, I get that I missed all the great music because it was all made before I was born or when I was small but you know what, these bands and musicians are still playing and we can watch them right now. And it's awesome that we can. Don't ruin that experience just because you think the band has "sold out" or has new members or whatever. Remember what it was like the first time you saw that band and let people have their own version of that experience.
I leave you with the immortal words of AC/DC. Get out there and be a good rock and roll citizen!