RANT: Gigetiquette 2017

author PP date 27/07/17

You've paid good money for a show with your favorite band and you're especially looking forward to that one quiet/loud dynamic: the one where a lengthy tranquil segment suddenly explodes into a fiery chaotic passage, where the band is known to smash their instruments and half the stage with it, before a huge sing along completes what feels like the culmination of musical perfection in a live setting. According to your opinion, of course, but that's exactly what live music experiences are all about. It's the kind of moment you'll gleefully inflate when re-telling the story to those who weren't there because of how epic it was.

But that's not how it happened, is it?

Despite arriving early and securing a great spot just behind the mosh pit, which is where you get the best view and simultaneously feel the energy of the concert, some 195cm asshole, and his friends arrived halfway through the third song opting to stand right in front of you blocking that view. They're beyond wasted and spend the majority of the show talking about how bad the referee was in last week's Chelsea match whilst shooting tubes of Små Blå in the process. Nevermind the quiet songs, this is their first night out away from their wives and families in weeks, so they'll be damned if they can't catch up with the boys. What's the difference between going to an arena show or to a bowling rink with disco lights, anyway? Then you feel a heavy knock at the back of your head, and before you know it, half-a-pint's worth of cold beer is running down your neck. So much for that timeless memory, you were looking forward to, eh?

Yep. We've all experienced that scenario in differing versions. A decade ago we wrote more or less the same article as this one. It's in dire need of a refresh because much has changed with the advent of the smartphone and the growth of the live music industry that now appeals to a much wider spectrum of people than it did just ten years ago. The plethora of festival upstarts and expansion of established behemoths means that a whole new segment of people is turning up at shows.

Alas, it's time we revisit what we back then dubbed the Gigetiquette, a set of do's and don'ts for behaviour at live music events, regardless of genre or venue.

1. Participate & energize the concert

Cheer after each song and clap in a heartfelt manner. It doesn't matter if you knew the song or if it wasn't among your favorites by the band.

Sing or scream along. Even if you don't know the exact lyrics but know the melody, mime along.

As Alexisonfire once sang on "Get Fighted": "My greatest gift to you is a dance-floor free from insecurities". Instead of just standing there with the cool-dude pose of crossed-arms, jump along, dance, skank, tap a foot, do anything to move along to the music. If you're up for it, start a circle- or a mosh-pit near the front to energize the audience.

Nothing feels more awkward than a lackluster response after a song, not just for you in the audience but particularly for the band. They're just humans, too, and negative reception will impact on their desire and ability to give the concert 110% even though it shouldn't.

On the other hand, a great response will likely trigger the band to perform even better and with more energy and passion than before. It's a win-win situation - it often takes but one or two people to get the crowd really going, and after that, it's a home run.

2. Do what the band asks

If the band wants everyone to sit down, don't be that dickhead who stands up in protest over "this is stupid" because you're too cool.

If they ask for a triple human pyramid while crowd surfing, attempt it. Circle pit around the sound desk? Check. Wall of death? You betcha.

No matter how insignificant or how ridiculous the request, these are the moments that epic concerts are made of that you'll potentially remember years down the line.

Who remembers Zebrahead at Groezrock 5+ years ago who crowd surfed around the entire tent with an inflatable boat? What about the monster wall of death at Lamb of God's Copenhell performance? Or Frank Carter's upside down ceiling walk at BETA last fall?

Help make these memories happen.

3. Watch out & respect others in the crowd

If you're abnormally tall, there's no reason for you to stand near the front and block the view for all other people. Be considerate when picking a spot. Make sure the people behind you can still see - they were there first, after all. Besides, the sound is always better near the middle of the crowd anyway.

If you're at the back and your favorite song is on, there's also no reason to bulldoze through the unsuspecting crowd because you selfishly want to get to the pit for this one. Suck it up or be near the front in the first place. There's nothing worse than spilling half of your expensive beer on a total stranger because some douche decided to storm you from behind and elbow you aside in the process.

If you're at the back, don't start a fucking mosh pit because this is where people are standing who just want to enjoy the concert while drinking a few beers, precisely because they don't want to be in a mosh pit.

Someone pinned against a barrier about to choke? Notify a member of security immediately. Did you see someone fall? Pick them up.

4. Show up early

Don't know any of the support bands? What a perfect opportunity to discover a future favorite band! 99.99% of all bands started by warming up for a bigger band - including every single one of your current favorite bands.

Think the support band sucks on record? Fair point - but live they might be an entirely different beast. Plenty of bands aren't able to capture their high-energy live performances on record, but give them a support slot in a tiny venue, and they'll blow you away. Case in point: Cancer Bats.

Besides, remember that one time when Blink 182 supported Green Day before they had released a single album? You just never know. What we do know, however, is that the number of times we've seen a totally unknown band burst into critical acclaim and to our collective favorites here at Rockfreaks.net is countless.

5. Don't Throw your drink into the crowd

What purpose does this serve anyway? Drink your fucking beer. Nobody likes it down their neck or ramming the pocket where their mobile resides, or anywhere else than down their throats, really. Only idiots throw their drinks - not to even mention it's dangerous.


  • It's usually acceptable to toss your water (not beer!) into a mosh pit on a warm summer day because these guys are usually drenched anyway, and actually appreciate being refreshed a little. Use common sense.
  • If you see someone tossing their beer, you are free to retaliate by pouring your entire drink on that person. The literary term for it is poetic justice.

6. Don't talk during songs

There's nothing worse than quiet songs being ruined by people chatting with each other. Maybe you don't know or care about the song but it could be someone else's favorite. Don't ruin their experience - wait until the song is over. You wouldn't discuss which botanical trend Lonnie has taken up this week or how little Jens is doing at football in the cinema either. This is exactly like that.

If you absolutely must chat with your friend, move along to the back or to the bar areas where you can still see the show, but don't ruin it for other people. Or better yet, go to a bowling rink or the local pub. In short, don't be a dick.

7. Don't smoke or do drugs in the crowd

Your addiction should not spill over to other people. But it's an outdoor stage!? Nope. The people around you probably aren't smokers - some of them might even passionately hate smoking. You can wait a couple of hours between your hits, smoking isn't a right at concerts. Don't ruin the experience for other people. Don't go near the middle of the crowd if you know you can't last two hours without smoking.

Drugs are even worse: ever seen someone hallucinating and crashing mindlessly into others in the crowd on their trip? Not a fun experience for anyone.

If you're smoking in an indoor venue, then you're just a regular asshole and an exception to the "throw beer" rule mentioned earlier.

8. Don't Karate Mosh

Karate moshers / slam dancers / etc are the worst for a number of reasons, the least of which being that they look idiotic.

They are dangerous to bystanders, forcing them to keep an eye on flailing limbs rather than enjoy the concert.

They also ruin regular mosh pits and circle pits due to their violent nature - nobody wants to be on the receiving end of a black eye caused by one of your idiot fists.

But perhaps their worst effect is how they drain energy from concerts. By creating a huge empty pit near the front of the stage, all intensity and energy from the crowd disappears as people are pushed towards the back and a glaring hole faces the band on stage. Way to go douchebags.

You are literally the only person alongside the other karate mosher in the pit with you, who is having fun. Thanks a lot, prick.

9. Don't crowd surf

Stage dives are one thing because people can see you coming. Crowd surfing from the back of the venue landing your 85kg body on the necks of unsuspecting people? Not cool. Especially the fairer sex and smaller individuals can get seriously hurt when they don't see you coming - not to mention it's akin to bulldozing as you'll likely cause their beers to spill on innocent bystanders...

EXCEPTION: Of course, if the band requests crowd surfing as a part of their set, then it's perfectly acceptable as people are aware that flying bodies are about to land on them from all directions, including from behind.

10. Don't photo/video the whole show with your phone

Unless you're in the first few rows at the concert, your photo of the show will suck. Have you ever seen a great concert photo taken from the 8th row or beyond? Leave the photos to the professionals who have the necessary equipment, access to the photo-pit, and experience to document the show. Taking a video of epic moments and sing alongs is, of course, fine - to an extent. It's a quick one-and-done scenario, so if you're draining your battery during a concert, you're doing it wrong.

Oh, and selfies with flash deserve a special place in hell. What are you, 13 years old?

11. Don't bring a six-pack of pints to the front of the crowd

This applies particularly to arena concerts and festival shows. It's an all too frequent sight to see typically 30-40 something males (the Volbeat types) carrying 5-6 pints in a hopeless attempt of getting it to the front to his buddies - and then proceeding to get pissed when they spill over or fall because the crowd moves near them. Do it before the show starts, or buy one at a time. It almost always ends up in disaster - where are you gonna put them anyway when the crowd moves? You'll end up drenching other people. Don't be like Brian who's now ready to start a fight at his first and only concert of the year.


As you might have noticed, this article is written in a purposefully confrontational tone. Not just because we firmly believe in the etiquette - we definitely do - but because our intention is to create debate around what is acceptable behaviour at concerts. We also invite you to share your worst concert experience in the comments below. It could be anything from being knocked out by a projectile to an unwanted sexual approach or something as simple as people talking over your favorite songs. This way, we'll all know what's just not OK to do at concerts, intimate small venues or otherwise.

Photo by: Peter Troest

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