After a recent Radiohead gig both Simon Tucker and John Robb made comments on those in attendance who seemed more interested in a conversation with their friends instead of enjoying the show. A spate of tweets on the subject by various people motivated Simon Tucker to ask…has it always been this way?
The live music event. That communal act of friends, families and strangers coming together as one to witness their favourite artists perform in the flesh. A chance to lose yourself in music and forget about life and its various ups and downs for a few hours at least. Well that’s how I remember it anyway. Nowadays? not so much. A creeping annoyance has infected the gig goers night out. It’s not the selfie junkies and their desire to photograph every moment of their life (let’s face it, we’ve all taken photos of bands on stage over the years as an act of cementing the memory of those special nights) it’s not even those “fans” who climb onto the shoulders of friends even though these are probably the worst of the worst as their selfish behavior blocks the views of those who paid exactly the same amount of money to see the band not some drunk lads arse (sorry I digress, as someone who is on the short side this has been a thorn in my side since my early teens.)
No, this new annoyance is Mr and Mrs chatterbox. Those gig-goers who turn up to a concert, stand right in the middle of the crowd and just….talk (and talk and talk and talk and talk). This fad seems to have been getting worse and worse over the years. Over the last few years I have been lucky enough to see the great Bristol band Beak> live in Cardiff. Twice I have seen Beak> and twice they have had to stop their set to ask people to quieten down which on one occasion led to them declining to play a song as it was one that started quietly and without being able to hear that bit the climax would have lost all of its affect.
Then we come to the recent Radiohead Manchester show. The gig was brilliant but as a reviewer I had to do all I could to tune out the wasp buzz of chitter chatter that surrounded me and just focus on the band. There were this particular bunch of people who didn’t even LOOK at the band and instead talked about work, friends etc and take consistent selfies throughout. What does this achieve? Were they wanting their “friends” or “followers” on social media to be all “oh how cool. Can’t believe you saw Radiohead”? What answer could they give if they were asked how were they? Because if they were honest their answer would be “not a clue mate but Roger here had a great night as you can see from these 1000 photos and I found out about Deborah’s run in with her bosses in work”.
The absolute worst experience I have had regarding this however was when I saw Slint at ATP. The audience talked ALL THE WAY THROUGH the gig and if you are familiar with the band then you will know how depressing this must have been. One guy in the audience was demanding the crowd “go nuts” throughout whilst also stating that if they “play anything off Tweez I am leaving” . They did, he didn’t.
Is this the place we find ourselves in now? Has it always been this way and am I looking back at my gig going teenage years with rose tinted glasses? If this is a relatively new phenomenon then why is it so? Has music become disposable in every format? Has the fact that now music can be obtained in an instant for free changed people’s attitudes towards it in more ways than one?
People seem to now act like the band are there just as a supplier of background noise to their night out not the main focus of their gathering. In my younger raving days we would follow a DJ around the country and follow the calm and drops of his/her set religiously, shouting when that drop occurred or those strings came in. Yes it is fair to say the sound system help drown out any droning voices but I can honestly say I can’t remember a single time a night out was ruined by the bumping gums of a fellow punter (and let’s face it there were a LOT of chattering jaws in those days).
There’s the argument that people spend their money so they can act in any way they want but then you can counter that with the same argument by stating that people have paid money to see they band so they should be able to at least here them.
So, what are your thoughts? Has it always been as such or am I just now noticing it? Has it ruined your night out or do you feel you can act anyway you please as you’ve paid hard earned money for a night out?
Let me know in the comments below.