Concerts are enjoyable life experiences. They are the unification of people from all walks of life. Everyone is there to support musicians that bring them joy and happiness.
Of course, at some shows, one may encounter an imbecile that hinders this enjoyable experience. Often times, this person is selfish and only cares about their experience, rather than those beside them. Other times, the person may just be taller than a fucking giraffe, which obstructs your view. Not intentional, but still an annoyance.
Regardless, these people bring a slight irritation to the overall concert experience. Here are eight annoying people you may run into a concert.
1. The Drunken Oaf
More than likely, you have run into this person. The Drunken Oaf is someone that eclipsed the legal drinking limit hours prior and is now treating the area around him like a bull in a china shop. Everyone knows this person exists and has probably encountered them at a party. Odds are, we have all been this person at some point.
But drunkenness is different at concerts. People shell out a lot of money to see their favorite artists. The last thing we should worry about is some belligerent buffoon spilling a $9 Coors Light all over our backs.
Is this to say you shouldn’t drink at concerts? Hell no. Getting drunk at concerts is an American past time. However, there is a difference between being drunk, compared to incoherently disregarding your surroundings, as is the case with the Drunken Oaf.
Drunken Oafs are assholes and they come in two different subspecies:
1a. The Screaming Oaf
A timeless classic, this particular Oaf has been around for decades. This version of the Oaf thinks it is absolutely hysterical to yell “Freebird” during a concert. Freebird?! Man, what an original thought! Wait…what’s that? He’s going to yell it again?! Hold my beer. I cannot contain my laughter.
Attention everyone: Please stop yelling “Freebird” at concerts. It was funny once in 1979, but it has not aged well. In fact, it will never age well. It is a fine southern ballad, but you chanting it 27 times when the lead singer is talking makes me despise it more than you.
Now, the Screaming Oaf does not solely apply to your “Freebird” yelling uncle. In fact, many Screaming Oafs take the form of millennial-aged women.
Such was the case at a Zac Brown Band concert last summer. At one point in the show, Zac was delivering a speech about the importance his elementary music teachers had on him, and how he believes the school system needs continual support for music education.
Now, I only heard half of this speech. The other half was reserved for Becky yelling, “OH MY GOD Carrissa, shut up! Yes, let’s go downtown after. It will be way more fun.”
First off, this was thirty minutes into the show and we’re talking downtown already? There are two hours remaining, sweet cheeks. Second, this was belted at full volume during a quiet moment in the show. Personally, I paid to hear Zac Brown melt my face off and discuss the importance of music education, not your future plans of drowning Chuck Norris shots downtown.
Becky, please pipe the fuck down. Mr. Brown has the floor.
1b. The Pushing Oaf
Ahh yes, the Pushing Oaf. This form of the Drunken Oaf has great floor spots, but bullies his way to the back for more beer or his fifth piss break. Thinking his front row spot will still be available when he returns, he once again bulldozes his way through the crowd, often times forcefully shoving those in front of him.
This drives me insane.
There are different rules on the floor. Of course, if you have a killer view, you want to stay there. For example, let’s say that you are four heads back from the stage at a packed arena show. However, you’ve been drinking since noon, so the seal is long gone. You need to use the bathroom, but also want your spot back. Do you have the right to get it back upon return?
Honestly, I have a difficult time with this one. It depends on the situation. If you’re with a group of friends, they can reserve a small section of the floor where you can safely stand once you return. However, if you’re there alone and need to use the restroom? Sorry, people behind you are not saving that spot if they don’t know you.
Especially if you are a Drunken Oaf with pushing tendencies.
Get to the pit early, go potty, buy a beer, and hunker down for the show.
While the Pushing Oaf is obnoxious on the floor, it needs to be addressed that the sheer volume of fans in general admission will naturally cause for some shoves here and there. That is fine and bound to happen. However, the Pushing Oaf pays no heed to where he is, including the reserved seats.
I had a close encounter with a Pushing Oaf at a Green Day concert two years ago. A man in front of me was extremely drunk and overly-friendly with everyone around him. Seems strange to say, but when you turn around to dish out high fives after every single song, it becomes annoying. This isn’t a hockey game where you high five fellow fans after a goal is scored. It’s a scripted concert. Unless it’s Phish or Dave Matthews, arena bands are going to play all (or at least most) of their hits. Did you really not think Green Day was going to play Basket Case, the song that made them famous? Did this warrant a flurry of high fives to everyone in a ten foot radius?
Now, you can high five your neighbor all you want, but when you’re reaching across people to slap hands with a stranger (who is equally annoyed with you) three seats down, then we have a problem. This is where the pushing aspect comes in. He’s forcing people to spill their beer and invading personal space. That is a lot to handle for introverted folk like myself.
This particular Pushing Oaf continued to high five everyone, in addition to hardcore, Lil Jon “Get Low”-esque grinding with his girlfriend throughout half of the set, invading the space of everyone in his vicinity. My buddy Jeff complained to the security guard in our section and minutes later, the Pushing Oaf was escorted out of the building.
What followed was, you guessed it, a barrage of high fives.
Sweet, sweet vengeance indeed.
2. The Dancer
Should you be permitted to dance at concerts?
Duh. Live music is naturally going to spark a boogie. Van Halen once said “Dance the Night Away,” so by the power of David Lee Roth, ye shall dance and enjoy oneself.
Should you be allowed to dance uncontrollably while occupying a ten-foot radius of space, forcing everyone around you to spill their drinks in the process?
Fuck that noise.
There is only a limited amount of space, especially in a packed venue. Use it wisely and don’t exceed your boundaries.
Again, feel free to dance at concerts. In fact, it’s encouraged. Sway to and fro, get in a groove, and bang your head ‘til the sun comes down.
Just don’t do the entire choreography routine to Footloose.
3. The American Idol
Picture this. You’re in college and it’s Saturday night. You and your friends head downtown for the evening. You’re drinking, coversering, and being merry. All is well. Then, you head to the spot. Every college town has that spot where people cap off the night. Here, you encounter a drunk girl singing Wagon Wheel, whilst using her pointer finger as the microphone.
This behavior is acceptable for college bars, karaoke, and stadium shows. It is not, however, reserved for intimate concerts.
Sadly, the American Idol pays no mind to wherever he/she is at. If a familiar song is played, it will be sung at maximum volume.
Herein lies the problem with the American Idol. Obviously singing along is a pivotal aspect to the concert experience. More times than not, the artist wants fans to sing along. In fact, it’s a beautiful experience to be belting a song with 18,000 fans.
The issue, is that person that does this at the intimate acoustic show. Again, sing along all you want, but please keep it at an appropriate volume if it is a coffeehouse show. It is like the old joke goes:
Fan: “Hey, who sings that song again?”
American Idol: “Oh, it’s (insert artist’s name).”
Fan: “Cool. Let them sing it.”
If some dude in a beanie cap with gauged ears plays a Wonderwall cover at the local Coffee Bean, hum along all you want. Just don’t ruin his acoustic set for everyone by pretending you’re Freddie Mercury at Live Aid.
Read the room.
4. The Giraffe
Shaq, and countless other tall concert goers, are the only people on this list that cannot help their annoyance. They are known as Giraffes, and it is not their fault that they are tall. It does, however, suck when you show up on the floor, only to be stuck behind an NBA small forward.
This happened to me at Bruce Springsteen concert several years ago. At Bruce’s shows, most of the floor is general admission, but there is a smaller “pit” area, that holds around 200. To obtain a spot in the pit, you need to have general admission tickets. Then, you arrive at the arena hours prior to the show and wait in a line. Each person that it standing in line receives a number. Following roughly three hours of waiting, someone announces that numbers “blank through blank” get to be in the pit. Then, the fans in line get to go in early and reserve their spots.
Fortunately, I was able to score a pit spot. Unfortunately, a man that was (no exaggeration) 6’7” happened to be standing in front of me. Again, this is not his fault. He paid his dues. This guy stood in line with all the other fans and rightly landed a spot close to Bruce.
By all means, the Giraffe should not be chastised for their height. Again, it is not their fault. To put it bluntly, it just sucks. Especially when you are already relatively tall (a gangly 6’1”) and forced to stand behind Monstar from Space Jam.
Is it annoying to stand behind a tall person? Naturally, yes. It is annoying having an obstructed view of any kind. But let’s stop tall shaming at concerts. It’s 2019, people!
5. The Pipsqueak
Similar to the Giraffe, short people cannot control their height. Baby, they were born that way.
However, there is a specific type of short person that drives up the annoyance meter at concerts, and that is the Pipsqueak. The Pipsqueak is a short person that asks you if they can sneak in front of you, so they can see better. Likewise, this person generally complains about the tall people in front of them.
Now, it is one thing if the person in front of you is 6’7”, a la the gentleman at the Springsteen concert. It is another thing if the person in front of you is, say, 5’10.” Listen, not to be a dick, but chances are 75% of the audience is taller than you. It stinks being under 5’5”, but you need to drive a hard bargain in order to get in front of me.
Actually, the bargain does not have to be a hard one. In fact, there is a simple blueprint to follow:
- Don’t be a dick. Ask nicely.
- If you and two friends are all quite short, chances are I will let you ahead of me. I’m not a monster.
The issue is the short girl that wants to go ahead of you is also with her boyfriend and his posse, who are all over 6 feet tall. If that’s the case, then sorry, no can do. If I let you forward, that will lead to your gaggle of Chads and Kyles also sneaking by, which then obstructs my view and invades my personal space. This, then, leads to shoving and nasty “You wanna go, bro?” remarks, which leads to an all-out brawl.
Do you see what happens when you let shorter people in front?
Realtalk though, depending on the situation, many will let you ahead if you ask politely. To avoid this situation, arrive plenty early to reserve a spot right up front so you don’t even have to worry about people battling your boyfriend for a better view.
If all else fails, hop on someone’s shoulders and pretend it’s Woodstock circa 1969. Surely, no one behind you will be upset about this…
6. The Spielberg
Smartphones revolutionized the way we go about our daily lives. They also changed the way we experience concerts.
Smartphones, in conjunction with the release of YouTube fifteen years ago, changed the game. No longer would a ticket stub be the sole remembrance of a show. With smartphones, concert goers could now take professional level photos, in addition to grainy, thirty-second videos with screaming fans drowning out the band’s music, in the palm of their hand.
These videos would later be uploaded to YouTube at 240p quality with a sideways orientation.
Nonetheless, smartphones gave birth to the Spielberg, who recently has become a nuisance of concert goers. The Spielberg was still in the infancy stage around the mid-2000s, but has developed into a monster in 2019. With Snapchat, Instagram, alongside the aforementioned YouTube, the Spielberg spends more time on their cell phone capturing footage from the show, than basking in the experience of the performance itself.
But is this a bad thing? Let’s dig in.
Case FOR the Spielberg
If you’ve attended a concert in the past five years, there is no doubt you have experienced this person. In many cases, the Spielberg isn’t that distracting. Most of the time they are minding their own business, and do not obstruct the view of other attendees. This bodes especially true for those in the reserved seating. For those on the floor, that is a different story (we’ll tackle that shortly).
The biggest case for the Spielberg is that they actually own proof of attending a show. On a larger scale, they own a memory from that show. Sure, the ticket stub is a great keepsake, but you know what is even better? Pictures from the show.
I, too, was a Spielberg as recently as two years ago. What can I say? I love concerts and want to remember them. My digital scrapbook is full of concert memories from Pearl Jam, to Metallica, to Trombone Shorty. I have a crystal clear photo of Dave Grohl shredding on his Les Paul, with a vein pulsing out of his neck. I captured Bruce Springsteen crowd surfing just five feet from me. Heck, just last week I captured Jack Black melting fans’ faces off while wearing a tiger shirt drenched in sweat.
These are memories I’ll have forever, and will own actual proof of them. You know who doesn’t have proof of these shows? Your Aunt Cheryl who saw the Grateful Dead on mushrooms back in ‘72.
Memories fade over time, but smartphones keep them intact.
Case AGAINST the Spielberg
While fans in reserved seating don’t have to deal with the Spielberg as much due to the layout of modern arenas, the floor is a different ballgame.
Reserved seating is layered, so if someone has their phone out in front of you, chances are you are above them (literally), and can oversee their iPhone. If the person on their phone is behind you, then they are obsolete.
The problem lies with the diehards in general admission. These folks are all on the same viewing level. This, in turn, poses a problem when the Spielberg in front decides to start filming the show. While you are trying to rock out and watch the performance, the Spielberg is busy adding the entire setlist to their Snapchat story, thus obstructing your view.
To all you Spielbergs out there, please understand this: 95% of the time the concert videos you take on Snapchat are insanely loud and incoherent. In fact, more times than not, the only noise produced from your Snapchat footage is some drunk lady behind you screaming, “Woooooooo!!!! Ayyyyee!!!!”
There needs to be a happy medium with the Spielbergs of the world.
Fans should be able to take pictures and videos of their favorite bands without being chastised by concert goers and part-time bloggers for doing it. We are living in a technology boom, so why not take advantage of it with the state-of-the-art camera you own in your pocket?
The goal, however, is to not go overboard with it. I find that the best strategy when taking concert photos is to snap away during one of the lesser known tracks. A flurry of phones always pop up during the hits, but the deep cuts don’t attract as much attention. This way, you have a clear view of the band, and (chances are) won’t piss off anyone behind you.
On the other end, don’t go crazy with the filming. Take some pictures, maybe a few videos, but try to soak in the experience of the concert. Sure, you want the proof of memories, but concerts are more fun when you’re singing along with your friends, and not worrying about capturing the perfect angle of Flea.
7. The Dick in the Pit
Metal shows bring forth a whole different breed of concert etiquette. This is primarily due to the mosh pit.
If you are at, say, a Carrie Underwood show, chances are you will not get caught in a mosh. Floor spots at a Slayer show is a different ballgame.
However, there is an understood etiquette with moshing amongst metalheads that is truly quite fascinating. It’s similar to not speaking during a golf drive, or splitting tens in blackjack. There are unspoken rules and everyone just gets it.
That is, everyone but the Dick in the Pit.
This is the guy that takes moshing to another level and completely ruins the fun for everyone. Moshing is heavily based on rage and energy that needs to be exerted during some rad-ass breakdown. Every mosh is different, but it’s entirely based on the vibe of that show. The vibe of a death metal mosh differs than the vibe of a screamo mosh, and that’s ok. It’s understood within that fan base.
The Dick in the Pit does not care about vibes and wants to ruin it by acting as if he’s in the fucking Purge movies. On their current tour, Slipknot have experienced several run-ins with out of control pit behavior, including Corey Taylor recently stopping a performance mid-song to calm down fans.
Moshing is fun, so don’t be a dick and ruin it for everyone else. Please mosh responsibility.
8. The Billboard
Like cell phones, signs at concerts can pose both pros and cons.
On one hand, the sign may read a heartwarming or humble message, which is the case in this Garth Brooks video. A woman battling cancer holds up a sign reading “Chemo this morning. Garth tonight. Enjoying the Dance.” Garth notices this woman, brings her to the front, and proceeds to deliver a powerful, passionate speech on cancer. “The Dance” plays in the background and everyone is sobbing.
Truly, a beautiful moment, brought forth due to a sign.
On the other end, signs can be a big distraction.
If you’ve never experienced a live event while standing behind a fan holding up a sign for over half the game, then thank your lucky stars because it fucking blows. There are heartwarming moments occasionally, but chances are the sign is requesting some deep cut the band won’t play. That, or a request to play a song with the band.
This person is known as the Billboard.
The Billboard is not every fan that brings a sign to a concert, nor is it every fan that holds up a sign during the show. The Billboard is the fan that is relentless to get noticed, and hoists the sign for a majority of the show.
Believe it or not, holding up a massive fucking piece of cardstock obstructs the view of everyone in a ten-foot radius. If you want to hold up a sign, get there early and reserve a spot way up front. Being in the middle of the floor with a sign obstructs the view of others too much. Also, there comes a point where the band won’t notice your sign due to sheer distance from the stage, so don’t even bother bringing your sign to the nosebleeds.
Two years ago I went to my first Foo Fighters concert. I was beyond excited. I love their music and couldn’t wait to experience their live performance everyone raves about.
The concert, to this day, is the most fun I’ve had a show, but it could have been ruined had we stayed behind the Billboard in front of us for the entirety of the performance. This Billboard held up a sign for thirty minutes (until we naturally shifted away), requesting if he could play “My Hero” on the drums.
Now, the Foo Fighters are notorious for inviting fans on stage to play songs, and sometimes they are incredible. Normally, that’s reserved for “Monkeywrench” or some cover songs. If it’s a meaningful, smash-hit like “My Hero,” everyone would much rather watch Taylor Hawkins, one of the greatest active drummers, play the song. Sorry, dude.
Again, signs can lead to touching moments, like the aforementioned Garth Brooks show. If your sign provides value and meaning, please bring it along. Moments like the Garth Brooks show, or this one with Eddie Vedder and a fan, are special and wholesome.
If your sign is a request to slap the bass during a hit, and you’re NOT an adorable little kid, then please keep it at home.
This concludes my 4,000 word Ted Talk on not being a dick at a concert.
It is fine to take pictures, get drunk, and dance at shows, but please do so in moderation. People pay good money to see their favorite bands. Don’t be the Drunken Oaf that ruins it for them.
Nate is a graphic designer as well as an avid appreciator of live music, pop culture of most kinds, and cats. Devon Rexes to be exact. He lives in Fargo, ND with his pop culture-loving wife Melissa Vosen Callens and 3 Devon Rexes: Huey Lewis, Joan Jett, and Stevie Nicks. They’re pretty rad. Send your questions, comments, concerns, swag, and music to [email protected]. Follow Nate on Twitter @natecallens and Instagram @fargonate. Cheers!