Thursday, February 7, 2013

Concert Craziness, Etiquette

I met a woman at the latest Alfie Boe concert that made me wonder if I'm getting too old and crochety to attend live music events.

The venue was general admission, and most people who sat in the very front of the theater had arrived early that morning to be first in line to choose their seats. My brother-in-law arrived an hour before the doors opened, and we chose seats immediately behind these fans for our party of seven.

Next to our table sat a woman entirely in black clothing — black jeans, black leather jacket, black blouse — with her long, brown hair clipped in barrettes down her back. She was hard to ignore from the start. This look was in contrast to others in the audience mostly wearing "office casual" clothes or outfits suitable for dining out in cold weather. (For the record, I was in blue jeans, a long-sleeved red sweater and black tennis shoes — or "trainers," as Alfie and his fellow Brits would call them. My husband was similarly dressed.)

The Lady in Black was pacing around the theater before the show, chatting up others along the stage. I figured she was among the "uber-fans" who lined the stage area and had attended the previous night's concert as well. Compared to these people, I was a Jane-come-lately, despite being a very enthusiastic fan who praises the talents of Alfie Boe to all within earshot.

When the lights went down and the musicians hit the stage, Lady in Black went wild. She jumped to her feet when a song began, waved her hands in the air, clapped enthusiastically and cheered vociferously. I was no slouch with my cheering and clapping; however, knowing the venue, I stayed in my seat, for the most part, so the three people behind me could see the performer on stage.

The Lady in Black was oblivious to anyone around her. Well, most of the time. During one of his rock song performances, she started flapping her arms and screaming to the people around her, "Stand up!" People told her to sit down. She looked at me and screamed, "Stand up!" I yelled back, "Enough!" (I heard my husband tell her to shut up.) She leaned over to me and yelled, "I'm with the band!" I replied in her ear through gritted teeth, "I don't care. Enough." She looked at me for a moment, then turned her attention to the others around her. Eventually, she took her seat again.

After the show, she interrupted my conversation to explain that, if they were in London, ten thousand people would have been on their feet, dancing. "I just felt bad for him," she said.

I thought: there are hundreds of people at this modest venue, many of whom queued up at 9 a.m. in freezing weather to see him. He was doing the things that made him the happiest (and, hopefully, making a decent wage doing so). And she felt bad for him because the audience, comprised in a large part of older public television viewers, wasn't on their feet in the non-existent aisles and blocking the view of the people behind them? Please. I didn't want to hear apologies, explanations or justifications. I just wanted her to finally leave me alone.

I told her simply her actions were distracting to the audience during the show. She apologized and left.

I'm not docile or quiet at a concert. I sometimes jump out of my seat when I hear a song I like, clap and cheer, sing along and join in the fray around me. The music is loud, the fans are happy and we're all there for a good time. However, anyone louder than the very amplified voice of the person on stage is too loud. I hope the Lady in Black remembers that at her next concert. I'll try to do the same.

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