There was a time when the most annoying person at a concert was the guy who wouldn’t stop shouting, “‘Free Bird!’” He now looks quaint in comparison to some of today’s concert attendees. There’s the over-eager fan who won’t stop photographing every second of that one song, because you know Ben Gibbard looks totally different between the verses and choruses of “I Will Follow You Into The Dark.” Then there’s the jerk who arrives late and tries to push his or her way to the front. Oh, and who can forget the sweaty dude who takes his shirt off and then runs into you with his freaking armpit?
It’s easy to judge people at shows, especially when you’re crammed into a sold-out venue, standing in a puddle of what you pray is only PBR. But maybe some of these people we love to hate have reasons for their behavior that we can’t see. Allow us to diagnose some of the more colorful concert attendees—and offer up some solutions to make everyone’s concert experience much more pleasant.
1. The drunk bro-dude.
These fuckin’ jabronis. In the year of our lord 2013, bro-dudes have worked their bear-claw-sized hands into every inch of our culture, including AP’s music scene. It’s nice to know they’ve branched out of the butt-rock realm, but did they have to come to our scene? What about the folk revival? That movement could definitely use a few more fans.
The cause: This sounds like an acute case of “my father never showed me enough love.” Instead of hugs and encouragement, his father chose to show how much he cared by insulting his son’s manhood. “You throw like a girl!” and “Man up, you wimp!” were likely constant refrains in the bro-dude’s childhood. He was probably forced to play football when all he wanted to do was sign up for pottery class.
The solution: Whenever a bro-dude who’s had one too many Bud Lights starts lumbering through the crowd, holding his beer above his head (and spilling it onto unsuspecting passersby) while making sounds one usually only hears at a football game, your gut reaction is to run the other way. But instead, why not engage the bro in conversation? Tell him he doesn’t need to overcompensate by acting über-bro-y just because he didn’t live up to his father’s expectations. Who knows, you might break through his tough exterior and get to his soft, compassionate inside. Then again, he could just kick your ass.
2. The woo girl.
In case you didn’t see that episode of How I Met Your Mother, here’s what you need to know: A woo girl is a type of young woman who, like the cuckoo bird or the Whip-poor-will, gets her name from the signature sound she makes. When attending a concert, she is known to make this sound after every song/guitar solo/new beer.
The cause: She’s got a smarter, prettier, older sister who was always the favorite. Every time said sister did something awesome (crowned prom queen, graduated college magna cum laude, married a doctor), the parents would look at our sad woo girl—we’ll call her Alice—and ask her, “Why can’t you be more like your sister Megan?” (Oh yeah, her name is definitely Megan.) So to make up for her failings, Alice overcompensated in public, doing her best to grab all the attention, no matter how annoying she sounded.
The solution: Although you’ll want to take the T-shirt you just bought at the merch table and shove it down the woo girl’s throat, stop, and take a deep breath. Once you’ve composed yourself, go buy another drink (the stronger the better) and move as far out of her woo-ing range as you possibly can.
3. The handsy couple.
Music can bring out all kinds of feels. But when a couple start making out before the headliner takes the stage—and don’t stop until halfway through the second song—you have to wonder if it’s the music that made them do it or their raging hormones. The only thing worse is the couple that are joined at the hip—literally. You know who they are: The dude who puts his arms around his girl’s hips and leaves them there all night. With one fluid movement, their bodies are locked to the floor and they will not be moved. Good luck trying to get around them. And God forbid you accidentally bump into the happy couple. Suddenly you get a look from the boyfriend like you just ran over his cat and then laughed in his face about it.
The cause: Dude, they’re just, like, so in love. You wouldn’t understand.
The solution: You may be tempted to turn into a second grader and inform the couple that “kissing is gross,” or “boys/girls have cooties,” but quell your temptation. Annoying as Romeo and Juliet may be, they’re in love (or at least have strong feelings for each other), and really, isn’t that a beautiful thing?
4. The disgruntled fan.
At every show there are always a few of these kinds of “fans”: They stand off to the side with their arms crossed, and their faces as stoic as the guards outside Buckingham Palace. They remain unmoved by all the singing, dancing, moshing, drinking and overall merry-making going on around them.
The cause: Could be a variety of causes. Perhaps they’re grumpy because the band they came to see didn’t play that one song. Maybe they spilled their beer all over their jeans and they have to spend the night standing around looking like they lost control of their bladder. Maybe the merch table was out of the shirt they wanted. Maybe they thought they were attending a Bon Iver concert, but instead ended up at a black-metal show.
The solution: There’s no helping a disgruntled fan who has decided to be miserable for the rest of the night. It’s best to move to the other side of the room so their bad juju doesn’t affect your mood.
5. The person who boos the opening bands.
This person is just so excited to see his or her favorite band headline, he or she has decided to take it as a personal affront that some “lesser”band is performing first.
The cause: Extreme dickishness.
The solution: For the previous four types of concertgoers, we offered solutions for their fellow attendees who have to deal with them. But for this particular kind of person, there is nothing anyone else can do to make it better. So listen up guy or gal bitching about the opening band: Stop being a dick. That headlining band you’re so excited to see? They were once an opening band. Everyone has to start from the bottom. And by the way, no one, including the headlining band, thinks you’re cool for booing the opener. Shut up and discover some new music.