We’re Not Gonna Take It: Concert Etiquette 101

(Originally featured on RockEuphoria.com)

It seems a new breed has taken over concert venues from coast to coast. Beamed down straight from the mother ship, as a good friend and concert-buddy of mine once expounded, the douche pods have indeed hatched. The result is a mass infiltration of douchedom injected into even the best concert experience.

Formerly quarantined to the cheap seats, this new breed has bought into their own hype of mythical infallibility. They’ve charged their way to the front, both literally and figuratively. Armed with a stack of overdrawn credit cards, the epidemic of self-entitled folks who live beyond their means with the greatest of ease have brought their brand of self-entitlement – along with their tickets – to the front of the stage.

The Douche Brigade comes in all ages, sizes, and sexes. They are invariably now as much a part of the concert-going experience as someone passing around a joint. By its very nature, rock is supposed to be an all-inclusive brotherhood. The mantra being, if you wanna rock… Then by all means, rock. However, these newest comers to the fold are not here to rock, but rather to suck up prime real estate at the front of the stage. They’re not there for the music, but just to have a miniscule brush with fame.

Rock is now the flavor du jour, the newest bandwagon to hop onto since Britney cashed in her chips (and WIC checks) as the choice musical Flavor of the Week to those craving disposable icons. In this day and age of MySpace, internet- and reality-television stars, the possibility that any small brush with fame can explode into something much larger has convinced these people that a chance at this is their unalienable right.

You see them at every show you go to, instantly recognizable by their mall chain duds advertising the name of where they purchased their pastel polos and plaid shorts. They stroll through the gate late, suck back several subpar, light brewskis and attempt to make their way to the front of the pit.

They brush past the unsuspecting longhair in the well-worn Aerosmith or Slayer shirt. They show blatant disregard for parents who have taken their teens and kids to get their first real taste of a rock show. The closer they get to the front, irate concertgoers unimpressed with their show of false bravado lean in on them, attempting to thwart their valiant attempt at a spot on the rail.

If you can’t spot them by their attire, surely you can peg them within seconds by their feeble attempts at intimidation. Fixing all those who would try to stop them with a vacant Alpha Male stare from beneath the brim of their American Eagle ballcap, they’ve been endowed with beer muscles from the copious amount of suds ingested. They become even more desperate when they realize that they can press no further into the angry mob of fans who are having their experience ruined. A telltale look of panic washes over their faces when realize that they’re packed in so tight that they can’t lift their precious cup of Pabst Blue Ribbon, the magic potion consumed in massive doses that gives them their purported powers of persuasion.

That’s when things get ugly. Usually, one of these clods will attempt to throw down with another male in the crowd. The usual choice for harassment is a man who is either smaller of build than the Troglodouche or who has a good ten years on him. Your chances of being hassled by a drunken douche bucket improve if you happen to have a female at your side. It doesn’t matter if it’s your wife, friend, or daughter. Usually, insulting the honor — or “attractiveness” — of your female companion is a tactic frequently employed by the Beer Gut Bullies to attempt to box you out of your spot or instigate a fight.

So, why are these guys there in the pits or scattered around the venue seating chart? It’s obviously not because they’re there for the music. While I see nothing wrong with having a cold one, with ticket prices at a premium, it is sheer stupidity to get so drunk you can’t even figure out which band is on the stage. Trust me. I’ve seen it happen.

Right now, the same people who laughed at the rockers, heshers, and metal heads in high school and beyond are now attempting insinuate themselves at the forefront of rock shows and ruin the fun. They’re still laughing, still bullying. It’s just one more bandwagon for them to hop on and attempt to claim authority. By its very nature, rock is about defying and subverting authority… Not assembling a power structure within and placing certain fans higher on the food chain than others.

These people are not there because seeing a certain band is something that holds meaning for them or holds the promise of “nothin’ but a good time.” Nope. It’s just something to do on a Saturday night because they have the disposable income to do so. (Living at home with Mommy and Daddy will do that.) In fact, once these clods hit the front of the stage, they’re perhaps the most likely members of the audience to try to lob a bottle at the lead singer’s head in their beer n’ HGH-fueled rage.

Much like their driving etiquette, the Troglodouche’s corrupt concert etiquette also demands that they must be first. The rules do not apply to them. Those who are members of the rock n’ roll society know the drill. You get your ass to the venue early and you get up to the front. Simple as that. If a band means that much to you, you’ll do what you must to keep your spot. And other rock fans who have earned their concert stripes respect that. If you absolutely have to grab a drink of water or take a bathroom break, there are usually some other cool people who will ensure that your spot is safe upon your return. That’s just the way the real rock n’ roll community works. Not trying to bum rush your way to the front.

That shit may fly at the frat house, but not in the pit, buddy.

While this behavior isn’t limited solely to those who possess “fratitude,” a younger generation usually comprises this group. There are, however, guys above the 20-something age bracket who have found it acceptable to engage in this growing phenomenon of behavior.

There are even females of the species of all ages who have taken it upon themselves to attempt to cajole their way to the front. Let’s just call these she-douches “Massengirls.”

Massengirls manage to be pretty bold with other females at shows, attempting to appeal to sisterly sympathy in an effort to get up front. The path of least resistance is usually their first recourse, believing most girls will step aside and allow them to secure a spot up front. They assume most women will put up less of a fight than a man would. Bypassing males in the crowd also limits how much they may have to demean themselves for a spot up front.

But let’s not rule out the possibility of these “ladies” using men to get what they want as a last resort. The tactics of a Massengirl are more passive aggressive when compared to that of the concert-going Troglodouche. They prey on desperate middle-aged guys who came alone or drunken 20-somethings desperate enough to believe that if they let these girls in front of them, they’ve guaranteed themselves some poon for the night. They might get a chance to chuck the cheeks of the chick who drifted and grifted her way up front, but that’s about as far as it goes. The real payoff is observing the look of sheer indignation from a Massengirl as she finds herself groped and pawed at by a balding, slurring drunk wearing sweatpants for the remainder of the night. Small price to pay to get up front, though, right?

To put it mildly, because of these new fixtures on the scene, the concert-going experience is nowhere near as fun as it once was. The atmosphere has changed. There are more fights and altercations in the pit than ever before. There is less camraderie and more uneasiness when fans should just be able to relax and blow off some steam. While every band wants new fans to come out and see their shows (and cough up as much as possible for a ticket), these people aren’t really fans. They’re just obstacles to what should otherwise be a fun night. It leaves a bad taste in the mouths of real fans who plunked down their hard-earned cash to enjoy their favorite band play live.

Rock fans, take this as a call to arms. We’re taking back our general admission pits and front row seats! Hell, we gotta take back our lawn seats, too! It’s time to “raise your fist and yell” that “I wanna rock!” The concert-going experience has been ruined by too many overly aggressive douchebags and we’re not gonna take it… anymore. This may sound militant, but if you ask any fan who has braved the front row, they will tell you that things aren’t what they used to be.

However, it’s not that hard to put people in their place and reclaim rock shows for the people who came to have fun. Bond with your fellow fans in line. Say “hi.” Talk to them. Ask them who they came to see. It goes without saying that you can make new friends when you have some common ground. These are the people whose spot you’ll save when they go to take a pee break and vice versa. Chance are, you will probably run into the same people at local shows. This is just one more cool person you’ll get to hang with.

Beyond that, these are the people who will help you box out any drunken Troglodouches or Massengirls attempting to weasel their way up front. If you’re the lone soldier out there, it’s harder to form a chain to keep these aggressive assholes in check. If one of them happens to make it through, get venue security to do their job and haul them back to the drunk tank. I’ve been to venues where security is great about doing this, and I’ve seen others where fans sometimes have to police the pit themselves. If you can get the pros to do it, all the better.

A few simple guidelines to keep in mind while reclaiming the pit for real rock fans:

1. Guys wearing shirts that say “Hollister” or “American Eagle” to a concert should be forcibly ejected on-sight. More severe penalties will be utilized to subdue anyone with a popped collar. Remember kids, polo shirts and rock do not mix.

2.  If you must mosh, do so responsibly. Only mosh with willing participants. There’s no reason why you have to knock a 100 lb. girl to the ground to prove how “hardcore” you are.

3. If you want to be up front, it’s simple: Get there early! Guys, if you’re dicking around at the beer tent, belching and farting away half of your paycheck, you won’t get up front. Do not expect your “efforts” to be rewarded by the crowd parting like the Red Sea while you and your watered down cup of Coors Light sashay to the head of the class.

4. This goes for you, too, ladies! Get there early! If you really want to show the band your tits, if they’re spectacular enough, trust me… They have the technology to scope out your jugs. Flash ‘em to your heart’s content. Just don’t think that your right to unleash the goods (or “not goods,” considering the deluded portion of the populace with bags of lumpy oatmeal suspended from their chests) supercedes the rights of others who have stood in line for hours. And just a little FYI, any groupie or aspiring band-aid worth her salt knows that if you linger in the venue after the show, if you’re hot enough and the right people spot you, you’ll get your turn backstage.

5. Another one for the ladies: While I am a fan of “the big purse,” it has no place in a concert venue. Maybe if you have a seat, it’s fine. However, a big purse in the pit, where space is at a premium is a “big no-no.”

6. Deal with your spot. You got what you paid for whether it’s lawn seats or front row. Respect that others did the same. If you want to squat in an unclaimed area, politely and quietly go back to your designated seat when the rightful owner comes to claim it. Be happy you got a good view for however long you had it. And no climbing up on a dude’s shoulders in an attempt to be cute will be tolerated. It’s rude and blocks the view of others behind you who had a worse view to begin with. This will be remedied by a swift kick to the back of the guy’s knees.

If we all band together, eventually, this new breed will disappear when they realize that their hostility will not be tolerated any more by good people who just want a good show and a good time.

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