It has happened to all of us. You are at a concert, and some jerk behind you starts talking. And talking. And talking.
Loud rock shows usually drown out these annoying folks. But plenty of other concert venues try to create an intimate vibe where you can hear Leonard Cohen sing about a secret chord that pleased the Lord, rather than hearing some stranger talk about what he had for lunch – or, worse, how it’s affecting his stomach.
With the summer concert season in full swing, we asked around about the best way to deal with that annoying loudmouth who sits behind you at a show.
Personally, if it’s a loud show or in a big arena where you could step away from the stage, I don’t see the big deal with talking to whoever you came with, said Anna Hatton, a University of Utah student.
If it’s an intimate show and there are people close by who could hear your conversation, that’s rude. It’s also disrespectful to the artist, especially if it’s a small enough place that they could see you.
Nick Dutson of Utah Valley University said, I’m usually the guy that’s making the noise, so if someone else is (being loud), it’s quite surprising. I hate it, though, when people are rude about it.
If they just ask nicely, I’ll usually shut up pretty quick, so I think that’s what I would do to them, too. If they didn’t stop, I would just move to another spot. No reason to fight it.
Chris Kilbourn, who runs the Internet marketing company Tofu Marketing, has been a band member, manager and concert organizer. He views audience noise as useful.
A disrespectful audience reveals a lot about their opinion of the band’s music, he said. It’s just like in marketing. You want to be able to track what works and what doesn’t work. A silent audience doesn’t tell me anything.
Kilbourn said if bands would listen to their audience, they could learn a lot about themselves. Performers are communicating with their audience, and it must be a two-way street.
When Daniel Post Senning, an author and spokesman at the Emily Post Institute – and great-great-grandson of the famous etiquette writer – talks about etiquette in entertainment situations, he likes to bring up the now-infamous meat thermometer incident.
In 2010, in Lancaster, Calif., a man used a 5-inch thermometer to attack a fellow moviegoer who had complained about his date’s cellphone conversation. The victim ended up in a coma, and the attacker got 40 years in prison.
There are right and wrong ways to address a situation, Senning said; No one likes to be confronted.
While you can’t sit at the whole concert glaring at an annoying, talking concertgoer, Senning said calling the attention of an usher to correct the situation is usually the best avenue.
Sometimes it’s a broccoli-in-the-teeth thing, when they don’t even realize it, he said.
When you’re at a concert, assess the behavior of the crowd around you, and then adapt, he added. If you are at a rock show where everyone around is screaming, it’s probably unwise to tell someone to shut up.
But if you want to scream at an Air Supply concert, you should look around to see what other audience members are doing. Chances are they are not yelping at Graham Russell to doff his pants.
What’s the view from the stage on disruptive concert-goers?
If you’re paying $15 to get in, it’s ridiculous to waste it, singer-songwriter Justin Townes Earle said. Don’t make your boredom everyone else’s problem.
Other musicians believe talking is just part of the job.
I think people lose their attention span pretty quickly, country singer Kip Moore said. I try to not get too bent out of shape.
I try to focus on the ones who are listening, said Neal Middleton, frontman for the hard-rock band Royal Bliss. He sees a noisy audience member as a sign that he needs to be better.
For the most part, when we’re doing a softer song, I need to step it up. But, he acknowledged, there’s always a drunk guy (who is) ruining the experience for everyone.
Todd Snider, a singer-songwriter, has a different take on tolerating noisy audience members.
Once they come in the door, they should be able to do what they want, said Snider.