The Rudest Things You Can Do At A Concert

Etiquette experts share faux pas to avoid while at a live music performance.

Pandemic life gave many of us a newfound appreciation for everyday pleasures like hosting friends, dining out or attending a concert.

On the latter front, artists are touring again and fans are flocking to a range of venues to enjoy live performances. Although we all might be a little rusty on the social norms front, that doesn’t give people free rein to behave however they’d like at concerts.

We asked etiquette experts to share some common rude behaviors at concerts ― and advice for avoiding these faux pas.

Getting Too Drunk

Concerts are a great place to enjoy a few drinks and let loose, but there’s a fine line between having a good time and being a drunken mess who bumps into people and spills everyone.

“It may be easy to overindulge in alcohol at a concert,” said Diane Gottsman, the author of “Modern Etiquette for a Better Life” and founder of The Protocol School of Texas. “Getting drunk, starting fights, heckling and losing all inhibitions is never a good concert move.”

Talking During The Show

“During a performance at the theater, opera, ballet, and similar settings, the only sounds should be coming from the stage,” said Jodi R.R. Smith, president of Massachusetts-based Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting. “This means no talking while the singers, dancers or actors are performing.”

Even at a more casual concert, be mindful of how your talking might take away from others’ experience and ability to enjoy the show.

Doing Your Own Performance

“Whenever attending a live performance, it’s important to remember that this is not your living room,” said Nick Leighton, an etiquette expert and co-host of the “Were You Raised by Wolves?” podcast. “How you act can affect the people around you as well as the performers on stage. This means being mindful of not being distracting or otherwise affecting the enjoyment of other audience members.”

To that end, enjoy the performance, but don’t try to put on one of your own that detracts from others’ experiences. Refrain from scream-singing unless everyone else is doing it.

“You may know the words to every song, but ‘taking the stage in your own row’ is distracting,” Gottsman said.

Being On Your Phone

Try to avoid texting during concerts, especially those in intimate settings.

“Those glowing screens are incredibly distracting, especially in a darkened theater,” Smith noted.

It’s particularly disrespectful to the performers, as evidenced by Patti LuPone’s famous reaction to a texting audience member in 2015.

“Unless there’s a reason why your phone needs to be on, it’s best to power it all the way down to avoid the temptation to look at it,” Smith said. “A phone on vibrate still makes noise and can annoy those around you.”

Ditch the phone and enjoy the show -- the performers and the people around you will also be glad you did.
gilaxia via Getty Images
Ditch the phone and enjoy the show -- the performers and the people around you will also be glad you did.

Blocking People’s Views

“Try your best to not block the view of the person behind you,” Gottsman said.
“You may not have front row seats, but in a crowd, try not to wear an oversized hat, or hold up miscellaneous posters or items that block the view of the people sitting behind you.”

Don’t stand up the whole time if no one else is. And in standing-room-only situations, try to pay attention to obstructions you might cause. Although tall people can’t make themselves shorter, they can avoid putting friends on their shoulders or positioning themselves front-row-center.

Expecting People To Cater To Your Seating Preference

On the flip side, don’t expect people to cater to your viewing preferences.

“While you may prefer to take in the concert while seated, the fans in front of you may intend to dance the night away,” Smith said. “If the majority of the people at the concert are standing, you might as well stand, too.”

Booing

“Never boo,” said etiquette expert Juliet Mitchell, also known as Ms. J. “Just leave and write a negative review if you must.”

Don’t disrespect the work that goes into putting on a performance.

“Even if you did not particularly like the concert, you should applaud the performance,” Mitchell added. “Applause is a way of showing appreciation for the actor’s artistry and efforts.”

Taking Excessive Photos And Videos

No one wants their concert view blocked by a wall of outstretched arms holding phones. Although it’s expected you might film or photograph some moments, don’t try to document the entire show.

“Be respectful about taking pictures,” Gottsman said. “Don’t stand in front of a kid or in the way of the professional photographers. Taking a few selfies is fine, but spending the entire night concentrating on pictures rather than enjoying the concert is annoying to those around you. Above all, turn off your flash.”

Slamming Into People

“It is expected at rock concerts that people will be singing along for some, if not all, of the songs,” Smith said. “Singing is often accompanied by some dancing. Feel free to join in, but know where your extremities are at all times.”

To avoid bumping into your fellow concertgoers, consider saving your most elaborate dance moves for times when you aren’t embedded in tight crowds.

“Try your best to keep your hands and feet to yourself,” Gottsman said.

Showing Up Smelly

Another way to show respect for others’ personal space is to pay attention to your odor. Wear deodorant and don’t show up to the show smelly.

“Take a shower,” Gottsman advised. “Even though you know you’re going to be getting hot and sweaty, your neighbors will appreciate you arriving fresh.”

Disrupting Your Seat Neighbors

“Be on time, especially for formal concerts,” Mitchell said. “When I say on time, I mean in your seat at least 10 minutes before the concert starts. It’s disruptive when people come in late or leave their seats during the performance.”

Be mindful about how frequently you get up to exit your row during the show.

“I understand that some people must take a break, especially during concerts over 1.5 hours,” Mitchell said. “If at all possible, those people should seek to arrange an aisle seat or sit in an area less disruptive.”

Shoving Your Way Out

Your respect for your fellow attendees doesn’t end when the show does. Remain calm and resist the urge to shove people out of the way as the crowd makes its way to the exits.

“Everyone is going in the same direction,” Gottsman said. “When the concert is over, be patient and don’t push your way out.”
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