When I was younger, I was really into the theatre of going to see live music. I loved the hair on the back of the neck feeling as you wait with anticipation to see your favourite bands bring their everything to play for you and your mates on that perfect night. No gig was ever going to be like it. No crowd was ever going to give the same energy. No sweat was going to fall from the singer’s face in the same way…
Obviously as I grew up and started going to more pub shows, more dirty little club shows, more shows organized by my friends, I realized that this theatrical aspect was a childlike fantasy. I wasn’t really getting a unique experience. Bands on tour often play the same set again and again. Some nights they have all the energy, some nights they are fighting pneumonia, wearing yesterday’s boxers, suffering a four day hangover. Some days you get them at their best, and some days you get them doing their job.
Despite that learning curve, and a continuing love and appreciation of the removal of the barriers between crowd and band, there’s still part of me that still loves going to shows that retain some of the theatre. Although it’s mainly at festivals now that I get the same feeling. To this day, I really appreciate a beautiful venue, some grand reveal of a back drop and some energizing walk on music. I like the feeling that I’m watching a show.
Which is why it really pisses me off when I pay good money to go and watch a band I love, and instead get distracted by people dicking about on the side of stage. And when I say pisses me off, I mean it will COMPLETELY RUIN MY NIGHT.
Let me be clear, I’m not talking about guitar techs, roadies or the other people who work their socks off to ensure that the band can play a great show. I’m also not talking about the sort of gigs where we’re all on the stage or the floor. Those are amazing for so many other reasons.
I’m talking about when 20 or so of the promoter’s mates (for example) seem to think the crowd are there to see them, and hold their own private party on the side of stage. I’m talking about when they are too nobbish to be aware of the fact that they are standing in front of the roadie trying to get a bottle of water to the singer. I’m talking about the air kisses and the selfies and the ‘oh my god I haven’t seen you in ages’ conversations that can (and should) wait the half hour until the set is over.
I’m talking about the fact that hundreds or thousands of people have paid good money to see a band and you are privileged enough to be invited to watch from the side of stage and AREN’T EVEN WATCHING. Fuck you people and your blatant disrespect.
So with this in mind, here’s Hannah’s guide to not being a dick if you ever get invited to watch a band from the side of stage:
- Ask where you can stand. Where are you not going to be in the way? Does the tech need access to those spare guitars/strings/plectrums behind you? Yes? Then its probably not a good place to be standing mate.
- Actually watch the fucking band. You’d think it’s obvious but sadly my experiences have shown me that this often isn’t the case.
- Be careful with your drinks. I once put a drink down on an organ that was side of stage during a Rancid set, because I needed to do my boot lace up (to this day, I’m sorry Kevin!), this is NOT OK! Luckily I didn’t spill it, but I should have remembered that this kit is well expensive and most bands don’t have a magic money tree around to replace instruments drenched in Jack Daniels. And they also probably need it the next night.
- Be mindful of the time. Are the band going to come off for a breather before going back on? Are you where they would stand? How about you move your arse? Similarly, if they are gross and sweaty at the end of a set, chance are they are going to want to change into a clean shirt before saying hi. Are you blocking their route to the dressing room? Again, how about you move your arse?
- Ultimately, be the polite and respectful version of yourself. Just remember that people might be able to see you and they don’t get to stand where you are. If a particular song makes you want to sing along, then sing along. If a song makes you want to stomp your feet, then stomp your feet. Just don’t be a dick about it.