In her recurring column, “Social in Security,” modern etiquette ambassador and Bell’INVITO founder Heather Wiese-Alexander walks us through a list of trusted tips you can rely on. Today’s topic: concert etiquette in 2023.
When people come together to enjoy the magic of a live performance, there’s something about the connection that can be soul-nourishing. You don’t need to have a privileged upbringing to know that concert etiquette is for everyone. When we are together at a stadium, a fundraiser, or an intimate private showing, the performances provide a place to be part of the energy and lose the worries of the week.
In terms of concert etiquette these days (especially after a summer of bewildering live show behavior), there are a few things to brush up on and maybe some new things to consider so that the show goes on smoothly. I’ve asked a few industry insiders to weigh in—you’ll recognize their names. I cannot thank them enough for their advice. Now you don’t have to just take my word for it.
How to Arrive at a Concert
Think we’re talking about directions? We’re not. This comes first for a reason. Everyone is there to have a good time. This means you, your people, and all those strangers. Is something still weighing on you? Try to eliminate the angst before you get there. Be mentally ready to deal with parking, lines, and crowds all with a little grace. It makes all the difference for everyone, including you. I promise. First, arrive nice. For the sake of the collective good, maybe a little extra nice.
How to Be at a Concert in 2023
The experts weigh in. A fundamental rule of concert etiquette is to respect space. This includes both the venue and the personal space of fellow concertgoers. You know to avoid pushing, shoving, and crowding, but also think before shouting and curb sound or light emitting from your phone (turn to silent, dim the screen).
Understand the vibe. If it’s lively, get up and be in sync. If it’s subdued, settle in and be in sync. (And if you’re syncing with *NSYNC, you’ll want to catch a story on Episode 5 of our brand new Social in Security Podcast. Shameless plug: check.) And for the love, don’t throw anything onstage, or at anyone, for any reason.
Beyond what we know as textbook manners, some insider perspective is always helpful. Principal for WoodHouse, music festival and concert producer, Brandt Wood lives and breathes live performances. “Pay attention to the show,” Wood advises. “Be kind to your neighbors. Keep talking to a minimum. And don’t shoot every song with your phone. This may be the most important one: Capture some key moments on video or stills — then keep your phone in your pocket. You aren’t there to record the show; the artist is not there to record a video. And it’s distracting to neighbors.”
Phones, Cameras, and Chatter — Musicians Weigh In on Concert Eqituette in 2023
Since etiquette is defined as polite behavior among members of a particular profession or group, I tapped some performers as well. What is their take on the subject from the stage and backstage? Recording artist, Brendan James weighs in.
“I tend to do a lot of talking during my shows — I also sing a good amount of mellow music,” James shares. “Some degree of focus from the crowd is important to me. When we’re all on the same wavelength the night can be so good! Of course, I realize people come to shows to unwind and hang with friends, so some chatting is fine and to be expected. But for those who seem to want to talk the whole show, I’d say head out to the lobby.”
Singer-songwriter Keri Hilson has great advice for what we all want to do so much, which is to hang on to the moment.
“The aim of performing is not just being a spectacle but cultivating a genuine connection with your audience,” Hilson explains. “I started performing during a time when people came out to be fully present in the moment along with me, and slowly watched (and felt) that change with cameras added to phones. Standing still to capture footage with a phone covering your face blocks the natural, reciprocal flow of energy. Although we have adjusted and understand your intentions, limiting the time you spend capturing and/or posting at a show allows us to connect and feel connected with you!”
Jeff Kready adds, “We can see you on your phone in the audience, even in the back and you’re being super sneaky. Listen, I’m dying to play Wordle too, but if you can wait until after the show it will do wonders for my self-esteem.”
For those phones, what seems so simple can be such a mood destroyer. My new co-host in our Social In Security podcast series, actor and comedian Shed G, added this perspective. “During the show, the audience is a big part of the energy,” G notes. “They can help take the artist’s energy higher, which makes a better show for everyone. When you use your phone, please keep in mind that others paid tickets for the same event. If you’re trying to record video, remember you have others behind you. Holding up your phone will likely be an obstruction to their view.”
Ready to sing along? While it’s acceptable and even encouraged to sing along or hum to your favorite songs, it’s essential to control the volume of your voice. Be mindful of others’ enjoyment. The one exception: musical theater. Broadway performing artist, Nikki Reneé Daniels divulges, “We love it when you enjoy the concert, but please don’t sing along!”
Ravi Patel of Animal Control and Meet the Patels adds a check-yourself for VIPs. “Normal concert viewers are usually awesome because they paid to be there,” Patel says. “VIP is often people who came for free to socialize. I hate when VIPs are too cool to remember that the person who let them in is performing, and the least you could do is not be a shitty audience member.”
It almost goes without saying, but for the sake of our etiquette newbies (welcome!), avoid shouting, screaming, or talking loudly during the performance. Remember that everyone around you wants to listen and unwind without unnecessary distractions. Plan to really let loose? Then have a fool-proof plan to be safe and responsible.
How Best to Leave a Concert
Your mood is high. Your night full of memories and inspiration is almost over, but not quite yet. Getting through the crowd, meeting back up, making sure the ones you are responsible for are getting home safely—these last pieces are best thought of first, because let’s be real, no one wants to think all too hard at this moment. Autopilot that pre-planned exit strategy and carry on with patience and even a little love for all those strangers in front of you trying to do the same thing. Ride-shares are sometimes best caught across the street or a small number of blocks away. If you parked at a venue, expect a wait and even plan to enjoy it. No need to get cranky. No one likes a buzz kill.
One last thing—recognize and support the artists and crew. Concerts offer unique experiences, allowing us to connect on a common, human level. It takes quite the village to pull off that feat on any scale. Buy the hat, follow their social media, and add them to your playlist. Make an effort to show your gratitude in a way that benefits them in return.
Ready to do this? Check out your local concerts and events. One of my favorite places to find out what is coming up is SeatGeek. Friends let’s create an atmosphere of respect, consideration, and shared happiness. The etiquette on this one is so simple. Party on, and be your beautiful, considerate selves to make each day a better one. Can’t wait to see you in the crowd!