Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Old lady concert rules

As I've gotten older I've noticed that I complain about a lot of things I never cared about or complained about before. I haven't decided if it's because I'm settling into the behavior pattern of the old lady that I will become one day or if people are just more annoying now then when I was younger. It's also possible that I have less patience now than I did before but I find that hard to believe given what I do for a living. Maybe it's just that I save my patience and allowances for nonsense for my clients and co-workers rather than strangers.

My old lady behavior is at its worst at concerts. I wasn't always an old lady concertgoer. When I went to my first concerts (New Kids On The Block, Def Leppard, Huey Lewis & the News), I was so wrapped up in the coolness of finally going to a show that I couldn't care less what people around me did or didn't do. It was all about the music and being impossibly grown-up.

I've been to a lot of shows over the years in every type of venue and all sorts of bands and musicians. I've been to Jazz Fest more times than I can count and I went to the first Lilith Fair (1997). I also went to one of the first concerts at what was then Nissan Pavilion (R.E.M., 1995). I even flew to Detroit to see The Stooges reunite for The Weirdness tour in 2007. I'm still sad about the whole "don't play anything from Raw Power rule" that was in place but at least I got to see Ron Asheton play before he died.

My top six concerts of all time are:
  1. Patti Smith and Her Band, Ram's Head Live (12.01.12)
  2. Pixies, DAR Constitution Hall (12.01.09)
  3. The Decemberists and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Merriweather Post Pavilion (07.14.07)
  4. Tina Turner, New Orleans Arena (10.25.00)
  5. Tori Amos, DAR Constitution Hall (04.26.96)
  6. Run DMC, Palm Court at Loyola University New Orleans (10.24.99) - Loup Garou y'all (old school style)
The Patti Smith show on Saturday was amazing. I've never really understood why people follow charismatic leaders and do really stupid things because of said leader but after this show, I totally get it. If Patti Smith ruled the world it would be a better place and I would do whatever she said to do. She's empowered and hilarious and dances like no one's watching and sings the saddest songs with the same spirit as rock anthems. When she sang "Because the Night" I could feel the longing for Fred "Sonic" Smith, her late husband and a founding member of MC5. She dedicated it to him and her reworking of the song was about him (Springsteen originally recorded it but wasn't pleased with the song; Patti took it back and made it a classic rock love song). It was one of the more moving concert moments I've ever experienced. Did I also mention that Lenny Kaye played some songs from The Nuggets and it was badass?

While I was enjoying the awesomeness of Patti, I also had my old lady concert moments. What's interesting about a show like this one is that you're going to have a huge range of ages in the audience. Lots of old punks and rock guys who saw Patti in New York in the 70s, college kids (so many college kids), people my age, and everything in between. A lot of shows at Ram's Head are 21 and up but I'm not sure that this one was. I got there early (as is my habit for most everything) so I had a pretty good spot on the floor (Ram's Head is standing room either in the pit/floor area or upstairs). I never go upstairs. In the space of the 2 hour set (thank you whatever spiritual force was at work for no opening act), there were a whole lot of my old lady concert rules broken. So let's discuss the rules.
  1. When you go to a standing room only show and you get there late DO NOT push your way to front. Your friends are not up there waiting for you (we know you're lying) and the rest of us got here early to get our spots. Suffer in the back where you belong (and I don't care how short you are).
  2. Don't wear the shirt of the band you're going to see. Don't be that guy (or girl).
  3. No backpacks in the pit. When you start dancing (and you know you're going to start dancing girl who cut to the front), your backpack will hit everyone around you. And impede our dancing/headbanging/etc. You deserve the elbows that you get.
  4. When you buy a ticket to a seated concert, stay in your seat. I didn't pay the large sum of money I paid for my seat to look at your back for 2 hours. Unless everyone is standing, sit the eff down.
  5. I get it - I was born in 1979 and missed all the great shows in the history of great shows. I will never get to say "Remember when Patti sang "Because the Night" for the first time at CBGB's?" or "Did you see that show where the Ramone (insert whichever one) fell off the stage?" You are Captain Cool and I bow to your coolness. However, if we're at the same Patti Smith show and you're going on and on and on about how much better she was two days ago when you saw her in New York or wherever, I reserve the right to tell you to shut up. No one cares because we're trying to enjoy our own Patti Smith experience. 
  6. Variation on the rule above: If you want to discuss how you used to go see the band before they were famous and now they're "sellouts" because they booked the Verizon Center or wherever, please be quiet. You bought a ticket to this show and being successful doesn't equal selling out.
  7. Strike the word "merch" from your vocabulary. Do you work in the music industry? Are you in a band? Do you want to sound insufferable all the time?
  8. If you're going to drink at the show:
    1. Don't dance like you're an extra in a movie about Woodstock. You're not in a field and there are other people around you.
    2. Apologize if you spill your drink on someone.
    3. Don't drive. Have a DD, take a cab or public transportation, stay somewhere nearby. 
    4. If you are with this drunk fool, take responsibility for them and don't laugh like it's the funniest thing ever. Also, if your friend is about to get into a fight or hitting on someone who is not interested, get them out of there. For real.
  9. 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).
  10. Tailgating should be reserved for sporting events (see #8 as well).
  11. Cell phones are not the same thing as lighters. 
  12. Don't carry on loud conversations during quiet songs (lady on the 2nd floor at Ram's Head, I'm talking to you). If The Velvet Underground's Live at Max's Kansas City teaches us anything, it's that no one cares if you want to go to the movies later or how awful so and so is. Even if you are Jim Carroll. 
I know, I'm turning into such a grumpy old lady. I don't even know what's wrong with me. With the exception of numbers 4, 6, 9, and 10 all of these rules were violated at the show on Saturday. I know the world does not exist solely for me. People can do what they want and live the lives they're going to live but I think we'd all enjoy concerts much more if we all followed the rules. I just want everyone to be a good rock and roll citizen. Is that too much to ask?

I'll leave you with this (I get a little teary):

I'm just behind and to the left of the older gentleman with the ponytail and the green jacket but out of the frame.

Video from youtube.com
Photos by me

1 comment:

  1. I totally am turning into an old lady too! I'm glad I'm not the only one who gets incredibly annoyed at most people, in most settings.