A baby-boomer’s guide to attending a concert

August 6, 2012


(Warning: The following contains adult language. Sometimes it just can’t be helped.)

My wife and I went to see Jackson Browne at the Beacon Theater last Friday in Manhattan.

Great show.

Obnoxious audience.

As my wife said, “You’d think that, when they get to be our age, people would know how to be an audience member.”

Apparently not. So I offer this open letter.

Dear Aging Baby Boomer,

Yes, I’m as excited as you are to go see (name of Legacy Act) when they play tonight. But if we can all observe a few rules of polite social behavior, I won’t have to tell you what an asshole you are in front of your equally annoying wife. Here we go:

We all love this artist or we wouldn’t have spent the outrageously hefty ticket price to see the show (or the equally ridiculous “service” charges, which essentially mean: In addition to the admission price, we’re going to charge you extra money for the privilege of actually buying this ticket).

We all have favorite songs that remind us of the stupid/amazing things we were doing at a much younger age when we first heard this music. Hopefully, the artist will play a number of them.

So don’t start shouting the name of your favorite song. Let me modify that: Don’t start drunkenly shouting the name of your favorite song.

Because he’s not going to go, “Oh, Tim in the balcony wants to hear a song I haven’t played in 20 years and haven’t rehearsed with this band and probably can’t remember the lyrics to? OK, let’s dig it out.”

And, probably, if he doesn’t play it the first time you shout it, he won’t play it the second time. Or the fifth.

So shut the fuck up.

When it becomes obvious that the artist will not be singing your favorite tonight, don’t keep drunkenly shouting for it.

Really, don’t drunkenly do anything. Seriously – I don’t want to interfere with your right to party. Except when it interferes with my ability to enjoy the concert.

And this is a concert. Not a party.

If you want to get drunk so you can listen to this music and act like a loudmouth asshole, do it at home. Or at your local bar, where they’ve got this music on the jukebox and where they already know you’re a loudmouth asshole.

If the artist happens to play a song you don’t know or care for, don’t use that as an excuse to get up to get another drink. This disrupts everyone else in your row, not once but twice.

And you’re already drunk. If you can’t get enough to drink before the show to truly enjoy it, perhaps you should consider rehab.

Also, don’t talk loudly during the opening act. I know: You didn’t come to hear him/her and you don’t care if they play or not. The rest of us, however, would like to listen to the music and not your account of that amazing chip shot you put right into the fucking hole – right IN there – this afternoon.

Another thing: Don’t whoop every time the artist says the name of our town. Particularly here in New York.

Perhaps in Omaha or Tampa or Albuquerque, it’s OK to act like some shit-kicking rube who feels all validated and special whenever someone famous mentions the name of the town you’re from from a stage.

But this is New York; have a little class.

Let me amend that: It’s OK to whoop the first time he/she says, “Hello, New York!” But reacting to subsequent mentions (“The first time I was in New York – ” “Woo-hoo!”) just makes you look like what you are: an asshole. And an idiot.

Also: Shouting anything while the artist is talking to the audience makes you seem like an idiot. And an asshole.

The artist doesn’t care what you have to say. Neither do the rest of us.

If you need attention that badly, audition for “American Idol.” Or see a therapist. Or have a seance with your dead parents about why your self-esteem is so low that you can only feel validated by trying to get the attention of an artist in the middle of a performance.

And yes, I know you’re so important and have reached such a level of affluence that you can afford the latest smart phone with that bright, bright screen. But don’t use the goddamned thing during the concert.

If you feel you absolutely have to, get yourself checked out for ADD. Or just admit that you’re an asshole.

Just a few more things:

I know you love the songs and know all the lyrics by heart. But don’t sing along – unless the artist invites you to. I didn’t pay a premium to listen to your sorry ass sing.

If you feel the need to stand up at the end of a song and clap to show your approval, fine.

If, however, you feel compelled to stand up as soon as the artist hits the stage and remain on your feet – doing what you assume will be recognized as dancing – for the entire show, well, how shall I put this?

Sit the fuck down.

Or don’t stand up in the first place. Because then you’re being an asshole.

If you stand up, then the person sitting behind you – me – can’t see. So then I have to stand up. And then the person behind me can’t see and thinks I’m an asshole. When, in fact, YOU are the asshole.

So stay seated. You can amply express your pleasure and enthusiasm from a sitting position.

Allow me to sum up:

If you’re a baby-boomer who’s going to a concert, you are, at this point, anywhere from your late 40s to your late 60s. That’s certainly ample time to figure out what constitutes socially acceptable behavior in a concert setting.

Theoretically, by this stage, you’re a grown-up. Act like one.

Or, to put it another way:

Don’t be an asshole.

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