Live music used to be so simple. Whether black Xs perpetually stained the backs of your hands during a Minor Threat-obsessed youth, or a savvy roommate guided you to your first Dinosaur Jr. show, the feelings are the same — live performances present us with a sense of immediacy that we just can’t replicate at home.
Connoisseur that you now are, you’ve begun to sense some fatigue. Whether your left foot has been stepped on by a woman in high heels one too many times or you’ve begun waitressing on weekends in order to afford ticket “service” fees, you’re not as easily impressed anymore.
Here’s a list of the top complaints (in no particular order):
1. Spilling a little beer now and then in the middle of a crowd is inevitable. Some acknowledgement and a brief apology on the part of the spiller is all I ask. But wait a minute, did that guy just spill my beer on me, and then walk away without saying anything? That stale-smelling wet spot on my skirt is worth approximately three dollars.
2. No really, I’m here because I like the band — not because I want to be hit on. When you’re the only one in your group of friends into Japanese psych rock, you’d rather not drag a reluctant partner to see Acid Mothers’ Temple for the sole purpose of looking social. In such situations, I advise wearing a wedding ring, socks with Birkenstocks or whatever it takes to scare off unwanted flirts.
3. Your old bartending job definitely had its perks, i.e. allowing you to sleep until noon every day. But now, some of us have to work in the morning. Booking agents and club owners may be able to cling to the old rock star lifestyle and still take home a paycheck, but when a headlining band doesn’t appear until midnight on a Tuesday, waking up the next day makes most of us wince.
4. For every charismatic, witty frontman, there is a drunk, a grump and a teller of awful jokes. I recently witnessed a beloved late-20th century band mar an otherwise fine reunion show with lousy stage banter consisting of a hamster joke. I won’t go into detail.
5.John Roderick of indie rock band The Long Winters doesn’t believe in encores, and I don’t either. When we feel obliged to clap following a mediocre set — and know a band will troop out for a second round whether we want them to or not — the encore loses its meaning.
Jennifer Aniston on the 'Call Me Crazy' red carpet, Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka carry their twins around NY, Even Rachel Wood shows off her baby bump, and more.
trueH6falsetrue16. I like loud music. But when sound waves are so huge I can feel them — bones rattling, feet driven into the floor by force — I’m left with a pounding post-show headache. A little restraint on the part of the sound person is all I ask.
7. Tallness has many advantages: chiefly, a guaranteed clear sightline at shows. As irksome as it may be to feel consistently relegated to the back out of regard for more vertically challenged audience members, it’s the right thing to do. Because studying the T-shirt of the 6-foot-5 jerk in front of you during your favorite band’s set sucks more.
8. Most ardent music fans are fully in favor of live music for everyone; what rankles is the stranglehold state and venue regulations hold on all-ages shows. Too often we beer drinkers are corralled into a balcony while a smattering of kids roams the expansive floor below. Or vice versa. With looser, more trusting rules I wouldn’t have to think twice before attending an all-ages show.
9. Only the most stoic of New Yorkers is likely to listen to any remotely rocking music in a state of motionless cool. Others perceive venue floors as trampoline free-for-alls. Sure, shows are an opportunity to unleash your inner fist-pumping, pogo-ing dancer, but if you’re in the middle of a crowd, remember that not everyone is into reviving the mosh pit and show some respect for your fellow audience members’ personal space.
10. Tickets for indie music shows rarely cost more than $20; usually, closer to $10. But when venues fall under the control of certain national ticket-selling conglomerates, one pays in the neighborhood of $7.50 in service fees — nearly the cost of the ticket itself. For what discernible service are we paying?
Yet as curmudgeonly as I may sound, I still love going to shows. And if nobody complained, what would we all talk about while waiting for that headlining band to finally go on?