Obey the Zone. (Rock Concert Etiquette)


So, I’ve been to many types of shows at many types of venues.  From stadiums to bars and from backyards to amphitheaters.  I’ve seen rock shows, rap shows, country shows, and even Weird Al.  Most of the shows I’ve attended fall in the punk or metal categories.  The crowds can get rowdy.  It’s expected, perhaps even demanded.  I’ve pogoed in a circle when commanded to by Joey Ramone, sat nearly motionless in a sea of silver hair at a Willie Nelson show, and lost my shoe once in a pit at a Misfits show (only monetarily, and it was the first & last pair of Airwalks I’ve ever owned).  I’ve been rubbed up against the sweaty shirtless guy, been flogged by the windmill hardcore kid, and burned buy the a-hole with a lit cigarette in the pit.  I chalk it all up to part of the experience.  Hell, I even had my nose broken in a stage diving incident.  I’m no stranger to the pit.

A man crowdsurfing in a moshpit, uploaded from...

The people are revolting, pushing the sweaty shirtless smelly guy out of the group.

I’m not saying that it doesn’t have it’s place.  I’m just tired of the people who don’t “get” it.  It always devolves into 2 or 3 probably drunken buttholes flailing around like fish out of water trying to start some kind of fight or prove their manliness.  Generally people have good manners.  Most people in the pit are just out to have fun bouncing around to the music, until it gets ruined by the few flailers.

It’s a weird topic to discuss.  Saying the word “mosh” makes it an instantly corny conversation.  I hate to say the word out loud because I’m old and it’s a young man’s (or brave young woman’s) game.  It’s just getting out of control.  I don’t want to see it stop, I just want to see it not be ruined by the few, the proud, the imbeciles.  This was all sparked by our recent adventures at the Flogging Molly show(Which musically, is a rather tame band… but crowd-excitement is off of the charts with them.)

We all know the “unwritten rules”, right?  The only one that I’ve ever seen obeyed consistently is: If someone falls down, pick them up.  This proves to me that we’re mostly all just out to have a good time & not hurt anyone.  As for the rest, I guess I’m going to have to write them for you.

The biggest one and my spark for writing this blog?

STAGE | PIT | CROWD

Fig. A

Obey the Zone.  This is the biggest rule that you need to adhere to.  You can see in figure A that there is a clearly defined acceptable zone for pogoing / slam-dancing / moshing activity.  It’s in yellow and black… for caution.  It can get a little bigger or even smaller depending on the ferocity of the act on stage.  The blue area is the crowd in general.  Generally, there’s a row or two of people up front really into the band or show and unwilling to move no matter how many goofballs are bouncing off of their backs. This spills out & around to people that are just trying to watch the band.  Is this that difficult?  Am I wrong here?

Please see my additional figures B & C to help drive my point home…

No means no.

Fig. B

Meathead Zone

Fig. C

In figure B we see the big red symbol recognized as “No”.  This is where you’re not supposed to flail, push, agitate, or try to cajole others into moshing.  The other night when we were safely in this zone, a chubby young ginger-headed frat boy was doing exactly that, and looking at all of us like we were crazy for not wanting to hardcore dance with him 1-on-1 when it was happening with willing participants mere feet away.  Was this kid afraid of the real pit?  I say put on your big boy pants & get in there, Skippy.  Or better yet, move into the Idoit Zone as illustrated by figure C.

NO HARDCORE DANCING

This unwritten rule is written for you.

The idiot zone is formed when the people who do know how to act at a show force out the people who don’t.  This is where the “too metal for you”, “hardcore windmillers”, and “guy with Greek letters on his hoodie & daddy issues” go to play.  They’re convinced that no one can have a good time unless you go home with bruises.  They feel that they are integral to your having the correct concert experience by placing an elbow repeatedly in your ribs or fist in your eye.  They’re irate when you don’t want to participate.  They go to the idiot zone to act like a wind-up toy and get out their frustration.  They just paid $30-60 for a ticket, $9+ per beer, and $10-$20 for parking to ignore the band on stage.

No moshing sign, Bumbershoot 2010

Weenies.

You have to understand that the whole floor has the potential turn into that zone, and accept your risk of taking a wild hit or someone landing on you if you’re going to get down there anywhere close to the action.  You most likely dropped some serious cash to see this show, and you’re there to see and hopefully enjoy the band… not to get distracted or assaulted by some self-appointed chairman of the mosh commission.

Well, that’s the big rule.  What’s your take on concert etiquette?  I’ll list some others, you give me more in the comments.

  • No lit cigarettes (or other burning substances) in the pit.  Most venues in Pittsburgh don’t allow you to smoke in the first place.  Besides billowing toxic crap into my air, burning someone while thrashing around like a toolbag is not cool.  If you need to get high, go do it in a dark corner.
  • Don’t scream off-key into your neighbor’s ear.  I paid lots of money for the people on stage to scream into my ear, not you.  Shut up unless it’s a sing-along rock anthem.
  • If you’re on the edge of the circle, keep it from spilling over.  Push the lugheads back into the fold.  Protect the people around you who don’t want in it, and watch out for that kid that’s way too young to be there.  Might be good to not trample him to death before he can drive.
  • You are not a windmill.  No one thinks this is cool.  No one likes getting punched in the head.  No one is more entertained by you dancing like Frankenstein than by the band on stage.
  • We’re there to see the band, not you.  You are not that guy on the runway, a traffic cop, or a cheer-leading coach.  Stop gesturing wildly at people trying to get them to go in a circle, spin you around, run into you, or do the safety dance.

Now it’s your turn.  While you think/type, please enjoy the following…

Vodpod videos no longer available.
Windmill

This is not a dance.

(Also, feel free to post other songs about moshing, slam-dancing, circle pits, pogoing, or any related ridiculousness.)

Also… to the people who drink in the parking lot through the opening acts, then come in during the headliner barely knowing where you are or that you’re alive.  Just stay home & get drunk.  It’s cheaper and safer, and you don’t have the potential to puke on my shoes.

8 responses to “Obey the Zone. (Rock Concert Etiquette)

  1. I agree with all of the above. The only addition to this is beatdown shows. There are no safe places. Be prepared to get punched or kicked. Especially if you are clueless of what goes on at them. That’s just what happens. Protect yourself or don’t go. Innocent bystanders become innocent victims to the violence.

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    • Yeah, I would expect a fracas at a hardcore show, or some seriously aggressive metal. But a pit at Flogging Molly? I get that they have strong punk rock roots & ties… but, really?

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