Meditations on going to too many shows
One never wants to be the friend who constantly does, well, anything related to pop culture. With so many ways to get your entire network of acquaintances’ attention, it is easy to fall into the role of over-sharer, a phenomenon discussed at length over every channel of the internet. Becoming the annoying guy who has his finger on the exact pulse of what’s going on is an easy and awful trapping to find yourself in.
And if you live in an urban center with a plethora of musical options each and every night, it can be easy to attend what some may consider too many of these gatherings. Shows are fun to go to, and, as long as you remember your damn earplugs, are an easy way to be part of a social gathering. However, you will want some companionship for these shows, and it can be tricky to consistently have concert buddies, so you don’t want to overdo it.
The trick to not becoming the annoying guy regarding shows is two-fold: don’t lie and set expectations.
Never make the band or location out to be anything that they are not. This can be hard when you’re excited, but try not to make your attendance buddy think one thing when that cannot be delivered.
A bit of anecdotal evidence: I asked a friend of mine to attend a show with me, and, if you must know, the band was Metz. I told them that it was pretty straightforward rock and roll, a little loud and a little fast, but simple enough. Well, if you’ve ever heard Metz you know that their music can be considered by some to be quite aggressive, and definitely not simple rock and roll. I fell into the trapping of trying to convince someone the band was something they are not, and now I can never hear the end of the “time that B said this band was going to be awesome but all they did was yell at me for a while.” Learn from my mistakes!
An easy way to avoid this is to stop using genres when you and your fellow attendees don’t have an intense, working knowledge of the exact subgenres you both happen to be into. Use words like “fast,” “loud,” “aggressive” and “sad” to describe the music. It will be a good representation for people not familiar.
With regards to location, make sure that if you’re going to a shitty part of town, to a little hole in the wall, make sure the people following you know this. Your threshold for what is just a dive bar and what is a place that should be condemned could be drastically different from the thresholds of others. You might think that it is perfectly normal for the bathroom to be covered with a quarter-inch of water, while others may not. Communicate.
This can fall under the idea of using specific words to describe the act you’re about to see, but it is a little more nuanced than that. While it is important not to lie, you also need to put up some parameters on attending a loud, crowded mess of a show. Some people are okay with getting bled on, while some people draw the line at spit and beer. Hey, to each their own, right?
Before walking in, say things like, “You know, people are going to be pretty wild and there is above a 3% chance that you may be kicked in the face if you’re by the front,” or “This isn’t going to be a wild show, so feel free to stand wherever you like.” Setting expectations on the size of the show, what actions will be taken, etc. is a great way to make sure people are ultimately happy with their experience, thus ensuring that you have a buddy who will attend shows with you again.
One final note about important expectations to set: Please remember that school/work nights are hard to work around. I swear to God if I get home from another Tuesday night show at 1:00 a.m., and have to work at 8:30 a.m., well, I just don’t know what I’ll do. I’m looking at you, anyone who happens to book a Monday through Thursday show. You know who you are. I’m getting older and I really want to at least get my six hours in before drudging to work.
Hopefully those two tips will ensure that you’re able to have company every time you want to see some bands. It’s always more fun to share the experience. Also, if you’re like me and beer comes along with live music, it’s more fun to drink with someone! Just make sure you don’t drink and drive – you might spill! Just kidding, don’t drink and drive because you’ll kill someone. And that’s not tight.