Concert Etiquette Guide

 By Shirley Griffith 

July 22, 2017 (Updated)

As our Queen City experiences venue after venue closing, it’s more important than ever to use a philosophy of mindfulness and community when you and your pals go out for a night of music. I’m not here to tell anyone how to live, but I do have a few keys tips if you’d like to not be considered “that person” at a show. You know, that person hogging the bar, that person talking over the music, that person who undoubtedly dampens the show because of their disregard for the unwritten rules which, when I’m feeling sassy, I like to refer to as “common courtesy.”

Support local music.

This is the most vital thing you can do for the music scene as a whole. Go to people’s shows, buy their music, tell your friends, help the spaces we have left keep their doors open. And, for the love of it all, pay the freaking cover charge because learning an instrument takes a LOT of money, time, and creativity. Most local shows are under $10 and, in order to keep them affordable and available, sometimes you’re going to just have to shell out that Hamilton.      

Snug Harbor photo by Drea Atkins

Buy merch, especially the touring band’s merch.

Buying a T-shirt, CD, vinyl record, a cassette, anything (I once bought a tea towel), can exponentially help a band out. A band’s merch helps advertise their music without the band members having to be present at all times. Buying the touring band’s merch is very important, too, because that $20 can help them get gas to their next show or allow them to eat that night. These people are putting it all out there by leaving the comfort of their hometowns and stepping into unfamiliar territory. We’re Southerners, show some of that charming hospitality!

Tip your bartenders.

I don’t know how every venue pays their staff, but I can promise you that most bartenders aren’t getting a fixed salary. They rely heavily on tips. If you order a $9 Long Island Iced Tea, please don’t just walk away or leave $.50 on the bar.  If you’re going to a show and you’re on a strict budget, you MUST budget for a tip.

Don’t bar camp.

Other people enjoy a beverage, too. Assess the room. If you’re at a smaller, busier bar, get your drink, pay for it, thank the bartender with a friendly head-nod, and move along so that others may do the same. It’s very much like traffic flow and you don’t want to be the car that’s stalled out creating congestion and making others miss out. Plus, the longer you take to decide on a drink or finish up a story to your friend (who is now bar camping by proxy), the more time you’re taking away from the bartender servicing more people and subsequently making more tips. Be a team player!

Alabama Shakes photo by Daniel Coston

Being in public does not equal consent, to anything.

Some people like to dance, mosh and cut loose and props to those people for having so much fun and living their best life. This does not mean you can follow them around or continually run up on them. Just because a person came out to the same venue, doesn’t give you free range to their body. Be cool and let that individual do their own thing; they aren’t here for you, they’re here for the show. Also, if you see someone being harrassed, please speak up! We as fellow human beings owe it to one another to keep each other safe. Don’t be a creep & don’t be complicit in creepy behavior.  

Shut up during a performance.

Attendees paid money to see a musician perform, not to overhear your story about how Sally from work is driving you nuts. Your friend probably can’t even hear you over the music and you are no doubt ruining the show for everyone around you as you talk louder and louder over amplified music. It is incredibly rude to the musician and those around you – just go outside or to a quieter spot if you want to talk.   

Tegan and Sara photo by Jared Allen

Life is short! There’s beauty in every moment, especially when you’re present in that moment. I get that you want to share a really cool thing that happened at the show but what’s not so great is missing the show because you posted eight video clips with terrible sound quality to your Instagram. Also, the people behind you are trying to see the show through their own eyes and not through your phone’s screen. Be AT the show, dance around, and appreciate the art that is happening at that very moment.

As with life, there are always special circumstances to these tips, but above all, choosing mindfulness and awareness of your surroundings will only benefit you and the other listeners around you. Sharing music is meant to be an enjoyable and supportive way to connect our community. From the musicians to the venue staff to the fans, we’re all in this together to have some fun. Be responsible and hold each other accountable so that your fun doesn’t intrude on someone else’s fun! Being considerate is the new cool.

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