By Nick Perry
Last Wednesday night, I shocked my friends, coworkers, myself and other acquainted brethren by attending a Fleet Foxes concert. I don’t like Fleet Foxes – they’re boring and I can never understand what their prepubescent moaning is about. It just sounds like they’re all trying to play the same violin with their teeth while the conspicuously well-dressed one sensually strums a guitar with his eyes closed and his “oh face” on. I don’t care for it.
This article is by no means a review of Fleet Foxes, but rather a diatribe on how to behave and not to behave at concerts. Unsurprisingly, many of the tree hugging, stargazing potheads seemed to have no fucking idea that they were inside an auditorium with 400 other people.
The Masonic Auditorium in Cleveland is unfortunately about as far as a theater can get from a Masonic Temple. I think I would have been able to excuse a lot of the free love/“I’m unique and beautiful” behavior had the setting been more spiritual and fraternal. But the Masonic Auditorium is a high-ceilinged, baby-blue trimmed Victorian behemoth of an amphitheater, complete with polyester red curtains and special stage-side balcony seating a la the Lincoln assassination, surrounding a modestly sized pit where the spendthrift plebs gather to space out and bump into one another. I really wasn’t feeling freemason-y.
Climbing the steps to my mezzanine seat in the fully lit auditorium I couldn’t help but wonder if I had accidentally come for Oliver Twist, not Fleet Foxes. The wide star-speckled black screen behind the stage and the modest lighting structure encompassing the stage convinced me otherwise, but I checked what the next show there will be. It’s the Nutcracker. Knew it.
Being such a contained, multi-faceted, and, by the looks of it, historically special place, I found myself noticing a great number of unique etiquette violations when the concert started. Concert etiquette is a very important thing if you’re not going to be a dick in public. Of course, rules vary from venue to venue, but that does not affect the universal concept of not ruining things for everyone else. For the time being, however, let’s just focus on theaters.
If seated between two people, don’t take both armrests.
Everybody’s been there. It sucks when you’re sitting in a tiny seat that your ass barely fits in and the assholes on either side of you have their elbows grazing your ribs while you sit cross-armed like an awkward palm tree. Use one rest, and give yourself a free hand to drum and itch with. Feel free to switch, but don’t take both.
Dance at the right fucking tempo.
It is amazing how bad some people are at dancing. Especially at Fleet Foxes. The Foxes are wailing in hippie-speak while the drummer shakes a tambourine and a guitarist sticks his dick in a sitar and somehow a quarter of the floor thinks it’s so catchy they start jumping. No joke – actually jumping. Like leaving the ground. Like a Rage Against the Machine show. Even in the darkness of the auditorium you could see the confused and annoyed faces of the other three-quarters—the three-quarters that only smoke pot—while these dancing fools just destroy the vibe for everybody else. Just chill, bros – dance at the right fucking tempo.
Throw your trash away.
For some reason, this is one of the greatest scourges of American life. People just don’t understand where trash goes. There were empty tall boys all over the auditorium at Fleet Foxes. How difficult is it to drop your can in a trash bin? It’s issues like the littering phenomenon (and the whole pro-life thing) that make me think half of the U.S. is illiterate or something. Oh, this next one fits that theory, too…
This isn’t fucking Woodstock, you animals. There is indoor plumbing. It’s very easy to push a lever down and even a little fun to watch your shit get washed away to become rat fodder. The first thing I did when I got to the Auditorium was go to the bathroom (to resolve the coffee shits) and walked smack into a wall of rancid butt-puddle smell. I nearly puked before making it to another stall. God has no sympathy for those who don’t flush public toilets, I am sure. Had Dante lived in a time of indoor plumbing, the non-flushers would be at least in the third tier of Hell.
The Things That Everybody Knows but Still Always Violate:
Only stand if you are on the floor or if two-thirds of the mezzanine is standing.
This is an issue fairly particular to theater concerts. They are just too damn small for only portions of the auditorium to be standing. If you are the only person standing in your row, you’re rude and you’re an idiot. If your entire row is standing because the majority of people in front of you are standing, you are all excused and the people behind you should probably get off their high horses and stand up if they want to see. But definitely don’t stand unless you’ve got support in it.
Don’t burn until you get outside, you goddamn hippie.
You want to get high and listen to music. I get it, believe me. But don’t fucking do it inside, because if you do it then everybody’s going to do it and then we’ve got a fish-bowled auditorium and then the smell gets stale and we get an epidemic of cotton mouth and stomach aches. Not to mention – this is the RA in me – it’s a serious fucking fire hazard. I am definitely not trying to relive the Station.
Things I Wish I Didn’t Have To Mention:
Don’t drink somebody else’s alcohol. Especially when it’s a Larry.
I don’t care who you are, if you are drinking a stranger’s Larry (aka wounded soldier) you should be euthanized. It’s not just the fact that you have no idea what sort of herpes the last mouth to touch it might have had, but that you could be so pathetically in need of alcohol that you’ll take a smidgen of watered-down, back-washed light beer just to ease a hankering. It’s morally reprehensible. This is another argument for why you absolutely must throw your trash away—to save us all from the abominable Larry-drinker. There’s one at every show, especially in the theater crowd.
No smush smush on the dance floor.
This is really only acceptable in a tent, preferably at a festival, preferably a large enough one that you’ll never have to see any of the witnesses again, like Ultra or Electric Daisy. Thankfully, nobody violated this sacrosanct law at Fleet Foxes, but you know it has to be mentioned here because people are just disgusting and love the dance floor smush.
Don’t give your boyfriend a handjob if he’s sitting next to a stranger.
This is possibly the most egregious, despicable violation of concert etiquette that could ever be committed. And I happened to be the stranger at Fleet Foxes. The guy sitting next to me seemed, at first glance, a little more straight-laced than the average attendee. He wore a sweater vest, had gelled hair, and had probably never experienced anything resembling rebellion until he started listening to Fleet Foxes. He was boring. I lost interest pretty quickly. However, about 20 minutes into the show it became clear that he really, really loved Fleet Foxes. He was “wooing” louder than anybody else and had his girlfriend’s hand grasped in a crush grip as he slammed it on his knee in some awkward sort of seat dance. I figured it was his birthday or something, and his girlfriend had gotten him the tickets, a fact supported by his frequent turning to guzzle her tongue down. Love will be love. I was happy that he was so thrilled with his birthday present or whatever it was. But then I felt a bump on my leg and looked down to see a foot in black tights hovering in my negligible personal space. His girlfriend had laid his leg across him in what had to be the least comfortable position she could have possibly assumed. He loved it obviously, and started rocking out even harder, grasping her leg and rocking it like he was riding a roller coaster. They kept this awkward phase for a while, continued narrowly missing kicking me in the knee, and sometimes connecting annoyingly well. They didn’t seem to mind. Just when I was getting ready to say something they stopped gyrating and actually sat back like they were going to listen respectfully like civilized human beings. This was a thrilling development for me! I focused a little more on spacing out on the concert visuals so I could get them out of my head. But as soon as I started to ignore them I caught a tiptoeing little hand out of my peripherals. The girlfriend had her fingertips inside her man’s inner thigh and was giving it a gentle massage. Weird, I thought, but not unheard of. Then her fingers got a little more curious, crawled up to his zipper, and began flicking it a bit – it’s amazing they didn’t catch me staring at this point – before deciding to just go for it, taking a handful of cock and clamping down on it like a vice. That’s when I was out. I snapped back to the show and didn’t blink for the next two songs while the evil shroud of the woman’s leg rose and fell with the heavy breathing of the asshole next to me. After the second song, they got up and walked hand in hand up to the very top of the auditorium, where nobody was sitting. Thank God they never came back because I’m almost positive they both would have been really sticky and smelly. I’ve never felt more violated in my life. I didn’t know people did such salacious things in such close, public quarters next to such poor, impressionable kids. Her foot touched me while she had loins in her hand.
These are just some rules to keep in mind next time you go to a concert at a theater. You are not the only one there, and people can get seriously psychologically damaged if you flagrantly disobey these rules. I’m a living example. Remember that this etiquette is not universal, and based on the venue you may have to establish a code of etiquette that best fits your personal needs. I love you all, and I hope you are never scarred by music.