Concert Etiquette

I am not a concert rat. I have been to a few big concerts, a lot of friend’s band’s shows, but I am not One Of Those People Who Goes To A Lot Of Shows. However, I have been to 2–count ’em, 1-2!–shows in the last 10 days: Jens Lekman at Terminal 5 in NYC on 10/8, and the Mountain Goats at Music Hall of Williamsburg on 10/14. A few rules, for anyone looking to attend a concert in the future, kept popping up in my head at both locations.


1. If you’re an idiot and/or in the lowest percentile of empathetic humans, do not go to a concert.

Please just don’t. There are plenty of mostly competent, slightly empathetic people who are trying to go to concerts, and they will have less of a good time if there are a lot of you there.

2. Don’t lug a lot of shit with you.

You’re going to a concert. You know this, presumably. You most likely bought the tickets, knew the date and time, and scheduled your day around seeing this concert. Do everything in your power to minimize your baggage: jacket that you can take off easily and don’t mind holding the whole show, necessities like phone and wallet, small purse (if you really need one) that you can sling over your shoulder. Do not bring a bag that will inevitably and repeatedly whack someone in the hip bone while you sway to musical stylings of a Swedish pop singer.

3. Dance/move in your own personal bubble.

Yes, yes, it’s a concert. Yes, we’re all expecting to be crammed together. Yes, we all intend on or know full well that others intend on dancing. But contain yourselves. You throwing your arms in my face means I 1) can’t see very well and 2) can’t dance in my own space. Enjoy yourself, but try and let others enjoy themselves as well. The only way this will be accomplished is if we work together.

4. If you are a tall motherf*cker, stand at the perimeter.

Check around you. Are you a solid foot and a half taller than the average human being? If your answer is yes, then be fucking polite and move. If you have friends who are obliviously bordering on 6’5″ and you very clearly see that they are standing in front of someone who is 5’6″ TOPS and you also know you are standing right next to the wall, change places with your GiantFriend so that everyone can see. Guess what? If you’re 6’5″, you can stand anywhere, and you are going to be able to see. You are going to be able to see no matter what angle you stand at, no matter who you stand behind, and no matter who stands in front of you! That is awesome! But me, at 5’4″, I am going to be hard-pressed to see anyway, so help a sister out, and move.

5. If you’re going to be an asshole, but the most considerate asshole you can be.

If you’re going to arrive at the show after the opening act and push your way in front of dedicated, patient people who got there at 8 when the doors opened, own it. Be that asshole. But once you do that, don’t languidly put your hair up for five minutes, then languidly take it down after five minutes, then languidly put it back up after five minutes. Don’t you and your asshole friend split up to be able to see better only to be constantly pushing your way back to make seemingly inane comments to each other during the songs. If you’re going to push your way up to the very, very front, please try to keep your beer intake to a minimum so that you do not go pushing all the way to the back of the crowd where the bar is only to push your way back up to the front where your friends are: you should’ve thought about your desired alcohol intake and where you might best be positioned to make that happen.

6. Unless the performer asks you for requests, let them play their set list.

Here’s the thing: music artists, like, do this for a living. They tour, they play shows, they spend a lot of time making set lists and tweaking them and not abiding by them when they feel like it. You screaming your favorite song while the performer is trying to play a different song is just plain rude, to everyone there. I have actually never seen someone yell something randomly and have the performer then play it. I have seen many performers ask, “What do you guys want to hear?” or say, “Just yell things out,” and then oblige.

7. Offer a piece of gum to your neighbors.

Okay, not really, but a guy at the Mountain Goats concert did this to me and it was awesome.


Follow these simple rules and you should be able to make it through a concert without getting angry glares from someone like me or inspiring ranty posts about what people should or shouldn’t do at concerts!

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