I went to see Bruce Springsteen in Leeds last night. He was good and I enjoyed it, even though I have serious reservations about the new E-Street Band set up. The old stuff doesn’t need ten vocalists and an entire brass section, which drowns out the guitars and makes the sound cluttered. That’s a story for another day, though.
It was the first gig I’ve been to since my daughter was born a couple of months ago and the gap between gigs allowed me to appreciate some of the things that people do at gigs that really, really, really piss me off. Here’s a list I compiled in my head when Bruce was trudging through some average stuff off of The Rising.
1. Filming Songs/Whole Sets on Mobile Phones.
If you do this, you are an absolute prize idiot. It’s really not worth getting into slightly abstract discussions about what this says about people’s ability to live in and enjoy the moment. The more basic point is that footage of this kind is always shit. It’s shaky and the audio quality is awful. Why take it? More to the point, what do you do with the footage when you’ve taken it? The process of filming a song just ruins things for people stood behind you who have to watch part of the gig through your phone. As I said, you’re an idiot if you do this.
2. Taking photos
I’ll concede that some people might want some photos of themselves with friends at a gig. I’ll let you have that one (though it comes with the additional complaint that I hate it when a group of ten people expects everyone to move so they can have sufficient space to stand together for a photo. I hate that). Taking photos throughout a gig, though? It suffers from all the same faults as filming things.
3. Carrying more than two drinks at a time
This is obviously dependent on where the drinks are being carried to. But I cannot stand anyone who thinks it’s a good idea to carry four pints of beer through the standing area of a gig. Seriously? What goes through your head? You lose about half of each drink, splash everyone with beer, and generally make life uncomfortable for people as you wander about, pushing people out of the way, as you look for people.
4. Wearing a band t-shirt to a gig being played by that band
We know you like the band. You’re at the gig. Have you thought for one second what you look like?
5. Waving a sign or flag
You’re ruining the view for lots of people for no real reason. Your sign is probably not very interesting or funny. They are qualities that aren’t closely associated with people who wave signs or flags at gigs (and in answer to your question: yes, I know why people take signs to Springsteen gigs but, as he said himself a few songs in, put them down during songs because he’s not taking requests then)
6. Sitting on people’s shoulders (unless you’re right at the back)
Again, spoiling the view for people. It’s selfish. The fact you think it’s a good idea to start is a clear indication that you’re an idiot.
7. Talking loudly and/or singing
I paid to hear someone else sing, not you talk. Don’t do it. The same goes for singing. I’ll accept a low level of singing but I hate communal sing-a-longs. It’s not karaoke so don’t try to make it that.
8. Continuing to wear wrist bands from other events, particularly festivals
This, like the t-shirt observation, is really a second order complaint but it annoys me nonetheless. Seriously, take the wristband off at the earliest opportunity after the gig or festival has finished, when it no longer serves an actual purpose. Why keep it on? Do you think anyone is actually impressed that you bought a ticket, with money, from a website that sells tickets, to go to a festival last year? Do you think people are going to look at your wristband and think “what an interesting person! I should go and talk to them”? They don’t, they think you’re an idiot.