Been thinking about this sort of thing following on from some chat in the Les Savy Fav thread. Bands roaming around the audience, bands stripping off, encouraged/enforced audience participation, mosh pits, crowd surfing etc.
How much of it all is part of their act and who they are, part of the enjoyment of going to these sort of gigs - and how much is just a deterrent to whole groups of people, or ways of making certain fans feel especially uncomfy or out of place?
Personally I enjoy nearly all of those aspects at the right gigs (so, not something quiet and folky) but also aware of how easy I have it at gigs in terms of height, build, etc. I can usually get as involved as I want, and then back off a little if i gets too much while still being able to see most things, and without having to actually leave the gig. I’d definitely be disappointed if certain bands toned down their act too much as it would take away some of what made them appeal to me in the first place, but I’m also sure a lot more consideration could be paid to how to “do” performances differently
If you go to a gig and get surprised by the sort of a crowd that band brings in, and it all kicks off in ways you hadn’t anticipated, that could really colour the way your whole night feels. Or of course you just might never go in the first place out of concern for how i might all play out.
There’s also clearly all sorts of accessibility issues around things like lack of wheelchair space, seats, bad sight lines, lack of set times and advance notice - but those feel more like venue/structural issues to me, rather than the ways particular bands or crowds behave
There’s definitely a line though I don’t know exactly where it is. A band member following/trying to engage with an audience member who clearly doesn’t want to be engaged with is obviously not on.
I’d be totally happy enough if a band gives it their all ON stage, if a band makes you feel uncomfortable with their behaviour they can can fuck right off.
This is definitely a problem with specific hardcore bands, the ‘‘if you don’t like it don’t come to a hardcore show’’ bullshit that’s certainly getting better but still rears it’s head fairly often. Seeing music live is always a communal experience, but the idea it has to be antisocial as well is just cyclical and tired thinking of looking like a certain kind of music more often than not.
Loads of big mosh pits opening up at My Chemical Romance on Saturday and then like 5 guys barge into each other for a bit and the pit shuts again. It’s like great, thanks lads, I’m over here getting shunted and crammed in with a load of other people in the middle of every other song just so you can pretend to be hard. Probably a different thing at your big shouty gigs where lots of people like to do all the mosh pit stuff, but here it’s just an annoying vibe kill for most of the crowd.
Couldn’t just stand in my own little spot and enjoy myself for a bit without somebody interfering in one way or another. I’m 30 and my back is sore, I’m stood half way back in the crowd, please let me be.
Was down the front for Charli XCX on Tuesday and everybody was going nuts and it was a packed crowd but in a very respectful way. Lovely atmosphere. Rock fans could learn a lot from pop fans.
I think that if as a performer and as a member of the audience, you actually bother to think properly about your actions and what impact they might have on the other people around you, most of the time you’ll end up acting in a way that leads to everyone having a good and safe time whilst there still being a lot of scope for fun and entertainment. Occasionally you might get something wrong, and in that case you need to be receptive to learning from that, apologising for any harm you have caused and adjusting your behaviour accordingly.
This obviously applies to life in general, basic stuff really.
It’s a tough line. I remember a fairly lively mosh pit kicking off at a USA Nails gig not long back which I got involved in (usually not my thing these days tbh) for a bit until I saw a couple of women who’d had to step over to the side of the stage looking a bit freaked out. They’d been happily up front and centre till then. Why should our enjoyment come at the expense of theirs?
Gigs for some styles of music would undoubtedly be a poorer place if they weren’t allowed to get messy but it’s hard to justify some folks being excluded from enjoying a gig so others can flail about a bit.
I enjoy them as long as I’m not involved, basically.
Band/audience participation is quite fun provided they’ve picked someone who is definitely up for it. Feels like it shouldn’t be too difficult to judge, and depending on what type of participation it is they can possibly ask for volunteers?
I find moshpits a bit intimidating - if I’m a long distance away from them or watching from the balcony then they can really add to the atmosphere of a gig but if one breaks out right next to me I don’t really enjoy it - it’s too distracting worrying about being knocked over or having my drink knocked over me, and I can imagine that being much worse for some people.
There’s a local comedian I quite like but the one time I’ve seen them there was audience participation involving dragging people up onstage etc and while I’d quite like to see him again, it puts me off for fear of being the unlucky victim. Especially if you’re there on your own because if you get dragged onstage and don’t even have a friend in the audience to enjoy it, it just feels a bit embarrassing?
Prefer not to be the person in the audience that the comedian speaks to/riffs off either if I can help it, which you can usually avoid by not sitting anywhere near the front, but it’s happened once or twice when sitting at the front has been unavoidable and it can end up being fun. Again, as someone who goes to things on my own a lot I would enjoy this less if I was there alone.
In terms of musicians, Bob Log III has some quite fun audience participation - he asks people to come up and sit on his knee while he’s playing if they want to, so that’s entirely voluntary, or recently he’s asked someone at the front to make some toast with a toaster and bread that he’s brought along (the person can do it where they’re standing and doesn’t have to come onstage, as I assume he’s not playing any bigger venues than the one I saw him in). Otherwise it’s passing balloons around, passing round an inflatable duck full of alcohol to drink from, or helping him crowdsurf on a rubber dinghy. All very fun and surreal but without anyone being spotlighted or embarrassed.
By any chance does said comedian have the initials PC?
He does! He seems quite good and the participation is clearly a big part of the show but I just want to steer clear of any chance of being chosen for it
Saw him once and he finished by sitting right at the front of the stage in Black Box and eating a big bowl of cereal, pretending to cry and blowing the milk and cereal out of his mouth and right over the table of people sat in front of him, then quick top up of milk and does it again. Did it a for at least a few minutes and it was a very awkward watch and I was amazed he didnt get battered.
When I saw Gay for Johnny Depp the singer grabbed a lad at the front and sort of had them both do a forward roll together. That doesn’t really make sense visually but I can’t really articulate it either. Anyway, the guy’s nose smashed into the ground and by the end of the set his shirt was covered in blood. It didn’t look broken but I’d be really surprised if it wasn’t. And he was grinning the whole way - seemed like he was having the time of his life.
Probably a step too far though.
I think good/not dickhead comedians must have a way of spotting who is and isn’t up for being involved. My friend in college used to really love getting us tickets for the front row of comedians at the Lowry and loved it when the act would question him. He got picked on quite a few times, and I was there doing my best not to look nervous, sat right next to him and never ever got involved in any of it. They must be able to see it.
That sounds quite funny tbh but yeah. The only time I saw him he was an unannounced support act for Tony Law because Law’s flight had been delayed and he’d be late arriving. Tony Law doesn’t interact with the audience at all (other than pointing at an audience member and pretending they’ve just shouted something very obscure that leads him into his next routine) so it wasn’t something I’d come out expecting and I shrank into my seat once he went on the hunt for audience members.
I will eventually pluck up the courage to go and see him again.
I can’t remember quite how we orchestrated it but there were a couple of burly lads ruining the Press Club jumping around pit at Reading Festival by barging into everyone and me and a bunch of other women managed to push them out and to the back, was very pleased with us
As far as crowd behaviour goes - lads performatively showing off in the pit is my most hated thing at any gig. Especially when they make an effort to launch themselves into people stood to the side. It’s unbearably macho, really selfish and very cringe. I’m sure there’ll be a lot of people (justifiably) put off from going to live music because they don’t want to put up with that shite.
Had a very nice little mosh to Wet Leg (probably Chaise Longue) when I saw them, but seemed like everyone was getting involved and not doing that whole “throw yourself into the bystanders” routine
Probably more heavy pogoing than moshing tbh, and just the whole front half of the audience going wild for the Big Hit. Still, great end to the night for me personally