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February 01, 2011

Why Don't You Chill and Lose 20 Years?

Seven Days music editor, Dan Bolles, has a message for people who chat during live music concerts. And I respectfully quote: "Shut. The. Fuck. Up." 

But no one has ever likely told Bolles to "chill and lose 20 years" at a show — as a fellow audience member suggested I do at Neko Case on Sunday night at Higher Ground.

My mistake was to politely ask a tousled-haired boy and his girlfriend if they would stop talking loudly so the rest of us could hear the music. They were so high, they were "dancing" to Case's haunting songs. It was more like writhing, though, as the two were engaged in a combination of chatting, grinding and sucking face.

Another couple moved directly in front of me and my boyfriend to get away from the action. I figured: I can either let this rude, fucked-up behavior distract me for the duration of the concert — or say something. Now that I'm 50, it was an easy choice. The older I get, the more I'm willing to say what no one else will. 

My first request fell on deaf ears. So I asked again, suggesting the two of them might prefer to get acquainted over by the bar. That's when he hit me with the rude, ageist "remark" that left me stewing for the rest of the set.

My boyfriend wasn't sure if he should be embarrassed for me or by me, or punch the guy. Although he claims he didn't hear exactly what the fellow said to me, he now refers to the night's events as "the altercation." 

It takes effort — and money — to go out and hear live music on a cold winter school night. I didn't pay 25 bucks to end up in a bar fight. Or to be disrespected by some jackass who mistook a Neko Case concert for a high-school prom.

Am I old and cranky? I am now.

I'm the same way. I can't stand excessive chatters, but the concert-goers I despise the most are the drunks (and sobers) who drown out the music with their own no-talent, off-key renditions of the artist's songs (I also despise the ones who are on key). I didn't pay a cover to a karaoke bar, I bought a ticket to hear real talent.

Forget 20 years, any boyfriend who lets that happen in front of him is what you need to lose. What happened to you is two kinds of wrong.

Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly.

GK Chesterton.

You can't be that old and cranky because you actually went to the show. I really wanted to go but decided to sit it out since it was at 9pm on a school night and there was an opening act.

I love that you wrote about this "altercation." Public displays of affection are fine by me, but only if they're not directly disrupting other people's good times. And talking during shows? Totally uncool.

As for your boyfriend who "let that happen" (as Bob commented), I'm pretty sure you did a good enough job sticking up for yourself. Bob, not all of us want our "man" to do the talking. Thanks.


True, I can't disagree, but if your guy (or gal)just stands there silent, that might be kind of a turn off, unless, of course the relationship lacks passion. But your point is well taken.

Bob: Counterpoint also well taken. Thanks.

I've always had a quick and nasty tongue when it comes to standing up for my partners when they're slighted in public (often directly related to the amount of tequila I've imbibed), but I don't feel strongly that my partners have to return the favor. A strong reaction from a lover can certainly fuel passion, but the older I get, the more I lust after a smarter, more even keel.

I can tell you from personal experience that it's not your age that got you that response. I'm 21 and I've said that to people and I get told to chill the eff out, or go to hell, or yes, they did pay $40 to come to a show and talk over the entire thing ruining the concert for everyone. I've actually started to wonder if kids these days just aren't being raised with manners...

Paula: The kind of boorish behavior you describe is all-too-common at public gatherings, especially concerts where the behavioral norms are less well-defined. My girlfriend and I attended a concert at Shelburne Farms a couple years ago where parents let their young children run around and scream during the performance. It prompted me to wonder whether the standard should be changed from "children and well-behaved dogs welcome" to "well-behaved children and dogs welcome." Not sure what the solution for bad manners is; if the venue won't police it, you're on your own and that's probably not going to end well, as your experience shows...

I have noticed that this doesn't (well the talking piece - I can't even wrap my head around the rude age comment) happen as often at shows at the Flynn. Is it the lack of a steady flow of alcohol? Or the fact that shows are seated? I don't know, but I have wished that HG would experiment with more seating at some of their shows.

Katie: You might be on to something there with your comment about seating. Think about it, we've been trained since childhood that when seated in a theater we can chat until the lights go down and the performance starts (be it a movie, play, concert, choir etc...). You miss out on that "cue" when standing at a concert. It has more of a "standing around with friends listening to music" feeling and people forget they are at a concert. Unlike being in an arena, being in a small venue like HG just seems to magnify obnoxous behavior surrounding you.

Paula I'm glad to hear you stood up for yourself and your right to enjoy the concert you paid to attend.

If we can't get people to STFU at *movies*, I'm pretty sure hoping they stay quiet at rock shows is a lost cause. Still, I'm right there with you (read: old and cranky).

On the topic of cruel and rude manboy behavior I just saw my first and only cartoon by our State cartoonist laureate

And I am compelled to play the part of internet scold and say that not only is that a shitty piece of contempt wrapped up as art, if that is "Kolchaka Qulaity" then he is one twisted dufus.

OK, I can see at a concert; but what about a bar where there is a musician playing? I was out with some friends at the Black Door and a band was playing and while we were sitting at the bar talking we were shushed. Not only that, this woman actually said, "I'm shushing you now". I'm at a bar. I'm a grown up. I should be allowed to have a conversation. You want a silent audience experience; then hire this performer for your own private party. Or is it just because it was the Black Door it's OK to condescend to people and shush them like a child? Try doing it to me at Charlie O's and see how far that gets ya.

I totally agree. I hate audience members who don't get the spirit of the music. I'm young, and I'm fine with dancing or moshing if the music calls for it, but I hate the idiots who mosh to EVERYTHING. Are you kidding?

I've had many an "altercation" with these people.

I had the same thing happen at the OK Go concert at HG. I mean, OK Go is a rock band, and yes, you expect some chatter and noise at a rock show. But when it came to the artful and more hushed songs they did, and even something spectacularly cool like playing one of their songs on freaking *hand bells*, you'd expect people to "Shut. The. Fuck. Up." and listen to some fantastic musicians show you how talented and charming they are. If you want to yak loudly, go to a damn bar.

Did you say anything to the guy? Did your boyfriend ask him to repeat what he said or stand up for you in any way? Did anyone say anything to him after he made the comment? If not, what is the point of this, that people sometimes get drunk and act like dicks at rock shows?

The point was that Paula was attempting to write something that Jimmy couldn't criticize. Looks like she failed. Bad, Seven Days writer, bad!

Tim, would you prefer I write off-topic comments about comics instead?

Mine were serious questions. It feels like half of this story is missing. I can't imagine an incident that warranted a blog entry three days later didn't elicit some kind of response from either the author or her boyfriend at the time.

Paula, you did what you could. Your boyfriend - I don't know, but I think I'd have said something like "Why don't you grow up?" or "If You don't chill out, you may not get another 20 years!"

Hey Jimmy (and everybody else) that was a different Tim. People act like dicks everywhere, not just at rock shows.

Tim, Timmy, Jimmy , Paula, whatever.

This is (not) going to come as a shock but the last handful of comments were all from the same person impersonating various regular commenters. That person has been banned until further notice and the offending comments have been removed.

Folks, please keep it on topic, and if you feel like talking to yourself, please find somewhere else to do it.

I'm thinking of franchising, then you can have Tim 24/7.

Only if we get a cut of the franchise fee, Tim.

How do you know it's all the same poster? They couldn't have been stupid enough to use the same e-mail address for all the comments....could they?

How's thirty percent of nothing sound?

Bravo Paula! I have often thought of asking rude talkers for their autograph, since they must be famous! After all, I bought a ticket and I get to listen to them instead of the band! This applies to any live music in any place- if you want to talk there are plenty of bars without live music, GO THERE OR SHUT UP

JCarter: Typepad (the service we use to power our blogs) logs the IP address of every comment submitted to a blog. The IP addresses aren't displayed or made public in anyway, and we don't even look at them except when necessary -- like, for example, when someone's spamming a comments section and we need to block him/her in order to stop it.

Tim: Come on, you must value yourself more than that.

I once smuggled a tape recorder into the Santana / Phish show in Stowe in '94 or so... 12th row center and the sound was great. During the entire first song when Santana came out and joined Phish for a blistering guitar duel with Trey some drunk directly in front of me would not shut up about going to get a beer and making sure his seat would be there when he got back. Pretty much ruined probably the only tape made of that show.

hmmm, interesting. Must be how the Burlington Free Press selectively publishes comments...

Oh well, per the article and the spamming comments we can all conclude the world is full of dicks. My suggestion stop buying tickets to Higher Ground. When attendance falls they will start making an effort to provide a more hospitable place for their customers to enjoy. If people keep going and don't complain to HG... well same old same old.

Same problem at the Justin Townes Earle show on Saturday, lots of jibber-jabber. Jeff Tweedy (who is notoriously cranky about noisy concertgoers) had a great approach to this issue at his HG solo show last year. He unplugged, turned off the PA and played acoustically from the edge of the stage for a few songs at the end. It was as if he was trying to train people to actively listen at concerts, rather than just show up, drink-n-chat, and buy a t-shirt. It seemed to could hear a pin drop while listening to a great artist's voice unfiltered by a sound system.

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