At 6’5”, I’m sure I’ve accidentally ruined someone’s concert experience. Despite making conscious efforts to be as inconspicuous as possible, there’s plenty of venues I simply can’t hide in. NPR Music’s Stephen Thompson recently touched on tall show attendees in his column The Good Listener, stating “Tall people do indeed have a social obligation to minimize the obstruction they create; to avoid front rows, stand against walls (or, even better, in front of pillars), and otherwise forfeit premium positioning between band and audience.” While Thompson offers a mostly balanced view on the challenge, a few heavy asterisks are needed to keep things fair.
Before you start kicking our shins, know this: We’re sorry we’re tall. We’re made aware of our height every day (doubly so at shows), and we’re trying as hard as we can to blend in. We promise, we’re already slouching, shifting our weight, and doing everything we can to improve your musical experience. But sometimes, it’s hard.
Standing 7.5 inches taller than the average American male, I regularly employee several of Thompson’s previously suggested tactics. You can find me posted against pillars at the Troubadour in Hollywood, leaning against the sound booth at any House Of Blues, or standing wayyy back at Anaheim’s Chain Reaction. At those venues, tall folks don’t lose any part of the experience; we’re well within the main listening area. But sometimes I want the “premium positioning” Thompson mentioned. Sometimes I want to be part of the main event, singing along and moving with everyone else, and it’d be appreciated if that wasn’t met with murmurs about “the tall dude.” The rudest comments I’ve heard at shows have been spat in my direction due to my height. There are other ways to handle that situation.
That said, we think the same way you do about positioning. When Anberlin’s farewell run and Acceptance’s comeback came to town, I was at the shows for the first openers—I wanted to get a great view for my favorite bands. If you’re getting to the venue for the headliner, don’t complain about the tree that took root at 7pm—find another spot. That same logic applies for the tall people, who shouldn’t squeeze in front of smaller parties at the last minute. Regardless of height, respect who got there first and don’t interrupt their angle.
If you find yourself standing behind a mountain, don’t pop off; a tap on the shoulder and a kind request go a long way. Again, we’re here to have fun, too, and a big part of that is making sure everyone’s having a good time. We’ll almost always give up our spot for those directly behind us. Know that your group of six below 5’5” is tough to accommodate, but we’ll try.
Besides Thompson’s offerings, here are a few additional pro tips for the towering: Festival, venue or otherwise, your tiny date shouldn’t be on your shoulders. You’re making the situation 10 times worse and deserve to get battered by selfie sticks. Have that tall friend you brought along stand in front or behind you; don’t be twin peaks side-by-side. Pick your spot early and stay put. If you’re taking pictures or video, keep your phone at eye-level; you’ve already got the angle without raising your hands to the sky. Maybe most importantly, learn to read lips so us tall people can enjoy treetop communication above the crowd without ever leaving our posts.
Oh, and sorry about stepping on your feet, everyone. alt
Jack Appleby is a columnist for AltPress. Follow him on Twitter.