Top Tips For Gig Etiquette

by Lizzie Hatfield and Jack Reid

Given the nature of our work here at PearShaped, we’ve been to approximately a billion gigs. Because of this we’ve become very familiar with the kinds of people you’ll encounter, so we know all about those people that you wish hadn’t been allowed to buy a ticket based on their idiocy and clear ignorance of gig etiquette. After all, if you’re going to peacefully coexist packed into a room full of strangers, you’re going to have to know the ground rules. With that in mind, here is our guide for how to enjoy yourself at your next gig, without being a complete moron.

1. Know your place.

Now there’s nothing wrong with going to a gig and screaming your head off because your favourite band/biggest crush/the only person you’ve ever loved has just walked on stage. It’s also okay to mosh and run into people and throw beer and be a general delinquent, if that’s what you’re into. You want to mosh? Go in the mosh pit. You want to scream and wave and jump up and down? Go to the front. Don’t stand at the sides with the people who are having a quiet drink and trying to listen to the music if you’re going to disrupt their Zen. Likewise, it’s not particularly fun when you want to dance and loudly sing along and all the Oldies at the back are scowling at you for enjoying yourself. Everyone gets something different out of gig-going, so know your place in order to get the best gig experience for you (and to avoid those who annoy the hell out of you).

2. Keep your beer-run frequency low.

I recently attended a gig where this was an extreme problem for me. Now I know everybody loves a drink, but I think the people who were in front of me during this particular concert should have invested in hip flasks or maybe a beer hat. Every song, a member of their group would finish their drink and go to the bar to purchase another, causing me to have to move out of their way as they shoved past me, and again move out of their way as they returned (whilst gradually spilling more and more beer on my feet as their drunkenness increased). Not only this, but drinking more means you pee more, so their constant toilet breaks also disrupted my viewing. I have 3 possible solutions for you heavy drinkers: 1. Stand by the bar at all times, 2. Do GROUP beer runs (there is more than one of you, with more than one hand, that can carry more than one drink), or 3. Think of the rest of us and quit drinking so much.

3. Keep your blood alcohol on the level.

I wouldn’t for a second claim that you shouldn’t have a few drinks at a gig, after all half the fun of the thing is getting a few pints down and singing along with your mates. However, there’s a sharp fall-off of diminishing returns at play. If you find yourself turning round to hug your mate every five seconds because this is such a beautiful moment, then you are probably right on the precipice of the point of diminishing returns. However, if you’re either vomiting on your shoes and/or in the hood of the stranger directly in front of you, then your blood alcohol is most definitely not on the level. Furthermore, if you have become one of the dreaded ‘Leaners’ then you’re definitely in the red. Leaners are those ones who stand in front of you with starry eyes and can’t seem to support their own weight, so chill with half of it resting on your chest instead.

4. Realise that no, he didn’t just look at you.

Gaggles of girls that are younger than the average age of the gig’s attendees are particularly bad for this. It seems that some people believe that all it will take to clinch the romantic attentions of the heartthrob band member is a fleeting moment of eye contact amidst a heaving crowd. This is not so. So, the next time you go to tell your best girlfriend that he totally just gave you the eye mid-song, just remember that no, he categorically did not. What’s more, this song is not ‘your song’, nor is it about you, nor should the people around you have to listen to you yell your personal story about this song, over said song.

5. This is not Live at Royal Albert Hall.

This is quite possibly my biggest gig pet peeve. Forget a small tip within an article - I reckon I could write my undergraduate dissertation on this one. As technology becomes ever more prevalent within our daily lives, the general gig-goer is becoming more and more attached to their phones. I can just about deal with the occasional status update or tweet that lets your all-important followers know where you are, or perhaps a quick photo for the purpose of nostalgia. But to those people who feel the need to record gigs on their phone, I need to kindly request you to stop doing that. Right now. Not only will you realise that the performance you’re watching is actually better when you view it directly rather than through a tinny camera screen, but your arm might ache a little less. Plus, you won’t be blocking the view of the person standing right behind you. At the last gig I attended, I missed as the act took to the stage thanks to someone holding up their bloody great Samsung to block my view. I instead had to view the whole thing through their phone screen and I can confirm: it’s not great. How often can you honestly say that you filmed an entire gig on your phone and watched it back numerous times after? Don’t you honestly think you’d enjoy this experience a little more if you actually immersed yourself in it? Bear this in mind next time you go to make a pointless recording at a gig.

6. You’re not the artist I paid to hear.

I’ll keep this one short and sweet. I came to this gig to hear the frontman sing, not you, loud, overly emotional teenage girl singing passionately to my right. Oh, it’s perfectly acceptable to sing along to the music, just make sure you’re not yelling directly into someone’s ear while you do it.

7. You don’t have VIP access to the front row.

I’ve seen it many, many times. You’ve been rattling around the bar at the back of the room throughout the two support slots, downing Hooch to get yourself psyched up for the brutality of the mosh pits. You and your cronies don’t notice the hubbub of the headline act walking on stage, but you catch the first couple of notes of their first song and a spark of recognition fires in your brain. Now at this point, you will commit the gig sin of believing that it is your natural born right to barrel toward the front row of the crowd with as much speed and as little consideration for those around you as possible. This is not cool.

8. Don’t be a tree.

As a six foot something gig attendee, this one is pretty close to home for me. If you are a particularly vertically gifted individual then it is your duty to keep a look out for Shorties (of the non-club variety) behind you, and position yourself appropriately. Now I haven’t experienced this pain in many years; it would take a person of obscene proportions to ‘be a tree’ for me. However, I have witnessed the little people in my life treated to the pack of polo t-shirts and tour hoodies instead of their beloved band far too many times. So if you’re on the lanky side, check over your shoulder before any manoeuvre. It’s the small price you pay for an unfettered view.