I’ve a huge, huge problem with people talking at gigs, which is about to become abundantly clear. Sometimes I think it’s my issue to deal with – I know I can’t tell people how to behave or how to enjoy themselves – but it’s so difficult for me to understand why someone would pay good money to see a band and then jabber all the way through their set.
I know not everyone stands motionless like me, wearing the same facial expression whether they’re having the time of my life or slowly dying on the inside, but if you’re not enjoying a set, why ruin it for everyone within shouting distance?
The two guys near me at one of Paul Weller’s recent Roundhouse shows will have paid almost £100 between them to attend, but chose to stand there, downing pint after pint of warm ale and moaning about their kids.
GO TO THE PUB YOU MORONS, IT’S CHEAPER, QUIETER AND THE BEER IS NICER. AND IF YOUR DAUGHTER IS THAT MUCH OF A PAIN IN THE ARSE, TAKE HER BLOODY MOBILE PHONE OFF HER.
Then there’s the head block – when two people arrive at a gig, barge their way in front of you and talk incessantly, meaning not only do you have to listen to their shit, but you also have the honour of staring at nothing but the side of their heads as they come together to bellow in each other’s ear. Wankers.
I have two tactics to defeat this – firstly, I blow gently on the nape of the person-closest-to-me’s neck. A bit weird, granted, but it normally works. If it doesn’t, out comes the enthusiastic loud whistle, right in the ear. Passive aggressive, but better than suffering in silence.
Having become increasingly sensitive to the issue in the past five years or so, I can’t help but hone in the conversations happening around me, maddening me even more. It’s bad enough hearing the low-level murmur; when you discover these idiots aren’t even talking about music, but, as the guys behind me at a recent Spiritualized gig were, how much ice they like in their Magners, it’s almost too much to take.
I saw Michael Kiwanuka at XOYO the other month, where the couple next to me discussed the new iOS update at length. I felt like leaning over and saying ‘Jesus Christ, just plug it in and accept the changes. Apple won’t let you get away with it for long.’
I know it’ll drive me mad one day, but I can’t help it. The details can, however, be to my benefit though, assisting in the delivery of a crushing blow from time to time. The best yet was during an acoustic Bombay Bicycle Club gig at Union Chapel about two years ago.
Just go over those words again – an acoustic gig. In a church. The great music in such reverential surroundings obviously wasn’t enough for the two ladies sitting in front of me, who spent the opening 20 minutes of the gig talking about their friend’s gastric band.
But why should we put up with it? No one talks in the cinema, and if they do, they get a stern ‘shhhhhing’ within seconds. Theatregoers don’t spend whole acts having a chinwag while actors tread the boards in front of them, an usher would kick them out, so why do concert attendees show such a chronic lack of respect for performers and fellow gig-goers? And crucially, why are they allowed to get away with it?
Talking at gigs is a bit like sticking chewing gum on the underneath of chairs. No one likes it, it really annoys some, yet no one will admit to it in public, and asking people to stop makes me sound like a teacher. I’m not out to ruin anyone’s fun - I refuse to believe standing at a gig yelling at a friend can be fun - just to stop people ruining mine. That’s not too much to ask is it?