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tinyfaery's avatar

Why do people do these things at concerts?

Asked by tinyfaery (41866points) September 7th, 2008 from iPhone

Jump up and down.
Pound their fists in the air.
Raise their hands in the air and make signs with their fingers.
Burst into uncontrollable fits of laughter (I saw it happen last night).

The past 3 nights I’ve been thinking about peoples’ reactions to live music and the concert experience. I looked around and was reminded of chimpanzees, hooting and hollering.

Any opinions, ideas, observations?

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15 Answers

shadling21's avatar

Observation!
I’ve seen many similar concertgoers, and I feel quite alienated as well.

Opinion!
Personally, I enjoy live music by listening to it and watching the artists, not moshing or screaming or whatnot. But I understand that people want to show their appreciation for the music, and I occasionally give a holler after an impressive drum solo.

Uncontrollable fits of laughter, though? Maybe there was more than music at work…

tinyfaery's avatar

I don’t feel alienated, I make noise and dance my ass off. I’m more wondering about the physical, outward expression of the musical experience.

shadling21's avatar

Oh. That makes this question even more interesting.

As a trained dancer, I find a specific way to express the music. However, I can’t very well do pirhouettes and jetes at the concert, so I get by with tapping my toe, bobbing my head, clapping to the rhythm.

I suppose it depends what concert, also. I went to an M.I.A. concert in which she invited hoardes of people to dance on stage with her. Obviously, it was a party kind of concert. I suspect that a Josh Groban concert would be slightly different, as would a Queens of the Stone Age show.

And a person’s familiarity with the music could affect their approach to a concert. It’s harder to sing and dance along if you don’t know the song.

There is a whole other level when it comes to religious music which I won’t touch upon because I very much need sleep right now.

mcbealer's avatar

I dunno know about that… I have been to many a Dave Matthews Band shows where there are throngs of us dancing, and yes, sometimes the rythm of the music calls for jumping up and down. Not in a frenzied manner mind you, think Riverdance. There area many interpretations of music through dance, and while the styles may differ, it is the experience of dancing in a group of people that I find cathartic.

JackAdams's avatar

At some concerts, some performing artists sometimes employ what are known as “paid instigators,” who are trained to circulate throughout the crowds and initiate actions that appear to be be “spontaneous,” and are most likely to be imitated. This also occurs, believe it or not, at state and national political conventions, and not just at music concerts.

In the case of the music concerts, there is a very good reason for this practice: The performers wish to impress the operators of a nightclub, concert hall or stadium that they cannot only draw a crowd, but they can also “MOTIVATE” a crowd to undertake certain actions that practically guarantee that those in the crowd will work up a thirst and hunger for concessional items. They (the performers) also want to simulataneously create a kind of “reputation” for themselves among their peers and promoters, which will result in them getting even more bookings, in more places.

I am no expert at all on crowd psychology, but performers frequently hire those who are, hoping that they will help them to create stunts that might even result in a mannerism that is universally adopted, such as what is called, “the WAVE.” And in some extreme cases/instances, those who are known to create/stage/choreograph cheerleading moves, are also consulted.

I have been a kind of “instigator,” at certain sporting events, just to see if I could motivate a crowd.

For example, when I attended a Denver Bears baseball game in 1977, I was feeling a little bit playful, and a psychiatrist buddy was with me in the stands (we had attended college together, in MN). During a lull in the action, he and I began to discuss mob mentality, and I suddenly said, “Watch what I am gonna do, the NEXT time the crowd gets ugly.” He slid a little farther away from me, for some reason.

When the crowd became slightly agitated about a particularly bad call (on the part of an umpire who must have left his guide dog at home), I rose from my seat and started chanting, GIVE US BARABBAS!

I did it in a musical kind of way, so that the name was chanted like, “bah RAB us,” and the entire thing went “give US bah RAB us!” this was chanted over and over by me, and when someone nearby started at me, I just said, “It’s a Spanish umpire! That’s his name!”

I tell you, it was just AWESOME to see total strangers leaping to their feet, joining me in yelling, “GIVE US BARABBAS!” “GIVE US BARABBAS!” “GIVE US BARABBAS!” (No one in the crowd managed to pick-up on the religious significance of the chant.)

After we were done chanting, the crowd around me began applauding me, because I stimulated them into leaping to their feet, and blowing off some steam.

I responded by saying, “Next time, we yell ‘MAZURSKI’!”

My psychiatrist buddy, who had not only observed the entire thing, but had also been encouraged to leap to his own feet and chant, said, “If you can come into my office on Monday, I won’t charge you anything. I really believe I can help you.”

shadling21's avatar

@JA – I’m glad I stayed awake long enough to read your post before turning in. Very interesting. I wonder what it takes to get hired as a professional instigator. If you send them a link to this post, perhaps some agencies will come knocking at your door.

aneedleinthehayy's avatar

For some I would think it’s a mindless, clone-like act. But for me and others, it is to express excitement and happiness. I never feel more happy than I do when dancing, jumping, shouting, whatever, at a music show.

wenbert's avatar

People do it because it feels good. You have to like the music though.

JackAdams's avatar

@shadling21: Thanks for the suggestion, but I’m happy and content, sitting at home at my desk, planning liquor store robberies.

wildflower's avatar

When you’re in a crowd, close to a band or artist you admire and music that you love starts blasting out at you, you just want to jump!!! At least I do!
The hand gestures and shouting, that’s just an extension of the same feeling. I guess it’s the concert equivalent of wanting to dance when you hear a song you like, only in a concert setting, the ground is usually less than ideal for dancing, space may be a problem too…....but you can jump!

JackAdams's avatar

Wildflower, does this make you wanna jump?

wildflower's avatar

Hell yeah! And so does this

Seesul's avatar

In reference to what JA mentioned, the “instigators” most likely started with the Beatles (perhaps before). I know for a fact that when the Beatles first arrived at LAX, there was an employee on hand, posing as an hysterical teenager, ready to be filmed by the awaiting news crew. It was a closed situation, at a secure end of the tarmac.

poofandmook's avatar

I always found it was almost as if… without sounding like I’m spouting a bunch of hippie crap… like the music had entered me and the only way it was going to get out again was by exploding out of me. That sounds completely like hippie crap, I know. But it was like I had to do it or I was going to blow into a million pieces all over my neighboring spectators.

Or something.

JackAdams's avatar

I forgot to mention that I was utilized as an “instigator” at a political convention, over 21 years ago.

A candidate, believe it or not, gave me $20, and said these exact words to me (and I am not kidding): “When I use my right hand to make this kind of gesture, [which he then demonstrated] interrupt me with applause.”

I found out later on, that he gave 8 others the same instructions, so there were 9 of “us” pretending to give him “spontaneous enthusiasm.”

One time, when he was interrupted by us (and the crowd of conventioneers) he said, “I appreciate your zeal, but please try and let me finish.”

Fortunately (because there really is a Gawd) he didn’t get elected.

I didn’t vote for him, either, because my vote can’t be “bought” for $20, or for a $300 federal income tax rebate (“bribe”).

I am NOT that “easy!”

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