What is it about gigs that makes some people feel as though they have the right to behave however they want, even if that includes ruining the evening for others? That's the question Annie Zaleski considers in this article for Salon. She recounts her own personal experiences of loud gig conversationalists and mentions drunken belligerence, but might also have included those who seem incapable of watching a show unless through the prism of their mobile phone, regardless of whether this hinders the view of others.
In the course of her piece, Zaleski casts about in search of explanations, suggesting that the self-centred attitude and short attention span of many contemporary gig-goers might be to blame. She also points the finger at modern means of music consumption, particularly streaming, as helping to strip music of its intrinsic value and instead relegate it to the status of mere wallpaper for social events.
All contributory factors, I'm sure, but perhaps not as significant as an issue to which Zaleski only partially alludes. I share her bafflement at why people would choose to spend good money to be able to have an extended conversation in circumstances that are far from conducive to it. But perhaps it's precisely the fact that they have shelled out a significant sum that makes them feel entitled to then enjoy it their way, with scant regard for the enjoyment of others. As such, continually rising ticket costs (and increasing bar prices) might be helping to exacerbate the problem.
Of course, though, this sense of entitlement is both unjustified (as Zaleski argues) and infuriating. Gigs that take place in nearly perfectly observed silence - such as pretty much any Low show, or Stella Donnelly's recent performance at Clwb - bear out the truth of Zaleski's closing comment: "When people shut up and enjoy the music, great things happen - and memorable, indelible experiences are created."
(Thanks to Ian for the link.)