• A note about concert etiquette: Stop asking what time we go on!

    We get it: you want to support your friend. Your friend is a demigod performer, who graciously permitted whatever divey stage to host their presence — and, perhaps even more importantly, your presence. You’re taking time out of your schedule to go support your friend/niece/second cousin’s fiancee/acquaintance who made it past the blinds on The Voice and is now moderately famous. Your time is important to you. You want to see the performer you’re coming to see — and nobody else. 

    So you ask your performer friend a diplomatic, innocent question: What time do you go on?

    It’s a harmless query, you think. In fact, it’s logical! Why would you risk coming at the advertised start of the event, if your performer doesn’t play until halfway through the lineup? And if they’re headlining, why come early for the openers? Those yucky, lice-ridden, genetically-inferior openers don’t deserve your attention. If they haven’t put themselves on your radar before this point, you shall not squander your time on them — that’s time which could be better spent bemoaning the redundancy of chord structures in pop music.

    The day of the show arrives. You’re fashionably late (of course). You roll in, bitch about parking, meander to the gates of the venue, order your drink (you grimace as you hand over $6 for a $2 IPA), and bestow your most rapt, undivided attention to those performers who should rightfully have it.

    After your friend’s 30 minutes of stage time, you are the picture of patience as you wait for them to clear their gear off the stage. You wait some more while your friend sells CDs and chases people around the bar with an email list. The next band sets up and begins to play. You finally corner your friend and begin to chat with them, to get the minutes of conversation and friendship you have earned by attending their show. You have to adjust your speaking volume to compensate for the noise of the current band, of course, which means shouting over the music.

    Your friend looks uncomfortable. People are staring — the plebeians who came to see this band, but what do you care about them? They missed your friend’s set, the only music really worth coming to see, and now they expect you to revere whichever troglodyte is on the stage now?

    You sense that you do not have your friend’s completely undivided attention (capitalist sheep keep coming up to them and distracting them, congratulating them on their music — but what do they know? They probably only just heard it today! They’re not the real fans. You are the real fan). So you politely dismiss yourself. Somehow, you parting of the sea of people to get to the door, which creaks and groans and slams on your way out, does not add any ambience to the current band’s whisper-soft ballad, which you not so kindly made your exit in the exact middle of.

    Good for you.

    You just made you and your friend look like assholes.



    I have been a performer in a lineup on either side of this scenario. I’ve curated shows where the opener brought a crowd to fill the venue, and then both the performer and their people took off as soon as their set was finished, leaving the venue virtually vacant for the next hour of music. I’ve played shows for empty theaters that filled up as soon as we were done and it was time for the headliner. And I’ve cringed inwardly as my friends, well-intentioned but uneducated in concert etiquette, talked over every other performer but my band, and then left as soon as we were done playing.

    Friends, when you’re invited to attend a show with more than one artist on the bill, chances are pretty likely that the show was specially curated to create an experience. A lineup of complementary artists creates a unique atmosphere that’s impossible to duplicate and definitely worth sticking around for.

    Obviously this isn’t a rule that encompasses across the board, as not everybody who books a show has their shit together — and there are several invisible factors that determine whether or not that sweet spot of a seamless lineup will actually happen. But even if everybody on the bill except your friend is terrible and sits on a stool playing A minor and droning sadly about the river in their childhood home, it’s still educational. You can learn something from it. And sticking around for every act means there’s good potential for being introduced to your new favorite artist.

    Also, it helps to not make your friend look like a dick for having friends with shitty audience etiquette.

    So, kindly, stop asking what time we go on. Show up at the start time. Be polite and considerate. If you want to listen to your friend’s music in an isolated environment, attend a house concert where it’s just them — or stick to playing their CD in your car where you can’t be bothered by inferior musicians or the rules of attending shows.

    Thank you.

    Leave a Comment