General Question

PandoraBoxx's avatar

Why don't musical audiences seem to have a reaction?

Asked by PandoraBoxx (18011points) May 22nd, 2009

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately attending live music performances in small venues. Some are local bands, others are regional or national bands that play smaller venues. Usually I’m the oldest person in the audience by 20 years. I’m also usually the only idiot up dancing and getting into the music. Am I missing something here? Is it weird to have a reaction to music and want to dance? Most people sit politely still, no expression, no tapping feet, polite clapping at the end of a song. (By venue, I mean bars, or music halls without seats. Places that serve beer.)

Is it weird for a band to play for an audience that doesn’t react to music? Am I just showing my age?

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33 Answers

eponymoushipster's avatar

i’m in the same boat. I believe the problem is “hipsters”.

i’ve been to shows where there are two waifish twerps dead center in front of the act, standing there like statues. it’s retarded. but, apparently, in hipstertown, dancing and showing that you enjoy something is right out.

my feeling is that, for $25–80, i’m gonna enjoy the hell out of the show. and i’m certain the act wants to see people enjoying their art.

damn you, you hipster dufuses!

essieness's avatar

My mom and I had this same discussion about the Fleetwood Mac show recently. She went in Dallas, I went in Houston; 2 different dates. She mentioned that everyone just sat there. Excuse me for shouting, but IT’S FLEETWOOD MAC! Now, at most rock concerts I attend, most people are up and if not dancing, at least standing or moshing or something. Maybe people are embarrassed to dance? Or maybe the music isn’t affecting them? It’s really odd to me as well.

Edit: You meant small venues. Ahem. Um, well, same goes. And I agree with @eponymoushipstr that if I’m spending money on a show, I’m going to enjoy it, dammit. And everyone else should too.

eponymoushipster's avatar

@essieness maybe it was just all old folks. don’t tell your mom i said that

ubersiren's avatar

I’ve been to some that are like that – mostly local bands. For the most part though, I’ve been part of active audiences… maybe I just see high energy bands? The bands’ performances have a lot to do with it, I’m sure.

aprilsimnel's avatar

Well, I can’t dance to Band of Horses or Doves. While some bands don’t lend themselves to a lot of movement, it’s weird when people don’t dance to rocking music. I remember going to a Dismemberment Plan show some years ago, and the lead singer (his name’s Travis Morrison) berated the audience for not dancing. If you’re a fan of the Plan, you know Travis got up there and shook what his momma gave him every time. The whole crowd that night was filled with hipsters just standing there, barely nodding their heads. It was very sad. And weird.

Bands for dancing? Les Savy Fav, LCD Soundsystem and !!! (Chk Chk Chk). You’ll definitely dance at those shows. The first time I saw Franz Ferdinand and The Futureheads, there was dancing. The Hives. The Mooney Suzuki. Graham Coxon. Beta Band (RIP). Of Montreal. A lot of dancing. 18+ shows, too. Fun!

essieness's avatar

@aprilsimnel Great music tastes!

eponymoushipster's avatar

@aprilsimnel i saw Franz two weeks ago. i can thankfully report that everyone was dancing. everyone.

I went to a Belle and Sebastian/New Pornographers show, and there was 5 of us dancing, out of probably 1200 people. I think Stuart Murdoch was shocked.

And i’ll say this about Decemberists: they aren’t the most dancingest band, to be sure, but the audience is entirely into the show. Colin Meloy has you clapping, forming lines, crouching, yelling, etc. the whole time. Every time i leave a Decemberists show, my hands hurt, i’m tired and i’m saying it’s the best show ever.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

I’m going to hear Gomez on Wednesday night, and Camera Obscura on Thursday night.

eponymoushipster's avatar

@PandoraBoxx i saw Camera Obscura in March in Brooklyn! Where you at? I’m seeing them again the end of June.

that was another hipster show, but thankfully most of the front row was into it. There was a venezuelan chica next to me; it was her first time in the US and her first Camera Obscura show, and she kept yelling “TeenYAGER play TeenYAGER”, depsite the fact that they were (mostly) playing the new album. Finally, Tracyanne played it. The girl nearly died!

Franz Ferdinand pics

Camera Obscura

PandoraBoxx's avatar

Camera Obscura’s playing the Southgate House in Newport KY, across the river from Cincinnati. I saw Juana Molina play there a few months ago, to an audience of about 30 people.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

I like Franz Ferdinand. I really like Guggenheim Grotto. I’m going to hear them for the third time in June.

aprilsimnel's avatar

Love Gomez. I do my hippie noodle dance at Gomez shows! :D

@eponymoushipster – I’m just going to be 14 for a second re: Alex Kapranos. ::AIIIIIIEEEEEEE!!!!!!! OMG!OMG!::

eponymoushipster's avatar

@aprilsimnel don’t feel bad. i twittered the show, and several of your fellow flutherers were tweeting back, asking me to “wink seductively at Kapranos”.

he’s a cool dude, what can i say?

tinyfaery's avatar

You need to go see a DMB show.

eponymoushipster's avatar

@tinyfaery you provide the peyote and tevas, i’ll buy the DMB tix. ;)

tinyfaery's avatar

@eponymoushipster I’m a fan club member. I can get better seats. :)

eponymoushipster's avatar

@tinyfaery ok, peyote, tevas AND the tix. :) they’re playing 2 nights in a row here in philly this summer.

dalepetrie's avatar

Well, I may approach this from a somewhat contrary point of view. First off, I think it depends on what kind of shows you go to, like some people said, if the music lends itself to dancing and jumping around, people will. I have seen for example the Billy Joel/Elton John concert…mostly people kept their seats, but say the last Slipknot show I went to, where there was a GA floor with no seats, and seats up above for the more “reserved”, but even in the seats fists and legs and beer glasses were flying.

Most shows I have gone to there is plenty of kinetic energy in the room, even in the smaller clubs, but usually you have some people who want to act crazy and some who don’t. I do think the current generation is less about vividly displaying their excitement, I think that is a factor, but if the music isn’t aggressive or in some way lending it self to being demonstrative. In other words, does the music move people to move? I have yet to be at a club show where I live that didn’t have a fair number of people jumping around like fools. And that’s cool, if that’s your personality.

Now, I’m no “hipster” but when I go to a show, I want to see the show…I’m just not about dancing and jumping and screaming…I’m there to watch and listen, and it doesn’t matter one iota to me if everyone around me is going nuts, or everyone is standing still. It’s not my personality to be outwardly demonstrative about my enjoyment. It’s not my personality to be one of the sheep who repeats after the singer on command. Nothing wrong with it, but it’s not me. I do think there is a fair portion of the younger generation (I’m 38, and I’m talking about late teens to early 20s today) who maybe aren’t so much about following what everyone else does, they’ll react if they want to which is probably not as much as people 20, even 40 years ago.

But I think it’s far more a function of that people who are attracted to a more aggressive form of music are going to react more aggressively, whereas people attracted to more mellow music might not be so demonstrative.

Or you could just live somewhere with a bunch of lamewads.

Darwin's avatar

Personally, if I go to a show with a live band if the band is at all good and rocking out I am at least grooving in my seat. I don’t scream or jump, but if others are standing I will stand and dance in place, or if there is a dance floor I will go trip the light fantastic on my own. If there is no place to dance I may sing along. If it is a slow song then sometimes I just close my eyes and concentrate on the sound.

But then, I’m older than dirt so what do I know?

Jack79's avatar

As a performer, I’d like to thank you for dancing.

It’s true that this happens, though I personally think it is my fault most of the time. Over the years I’ve learnt to feel the audience, try and get their attention and slowly build up their mood. It’s true that some audiences are hard to please. I remember trying to play in Berlin and my girlfriend at the time said “look, think about it. The people that came here are the ones that couldn’t get a ticket for Tina Turner”. There’s Tina Turner, Robbie Williams, Joan Jett, Simple Minds and maybe even U2 all playing on the same day in the same city, and I expect people to be excited about coming to watch me in a little bar in some back alley? This I believe may be true of all big cities.

So it is true that in smaller town, where the audiences are not as “spoilt”, people will appreciate even a half-decent act a lot more. And they’ll be listening to the music, so if you’re good, you got a chance.

Thirdly, I have noticed that older people tend to respond to my own music better (and I assume that’s what you’ve been listening to). I don’t know why that is. Perhaps it’s our “free download mp3” culture. Perhaps younger people simply don’t remember what it is to go to a live concert, whether it’s Woodstock or just your local heavy metal band in the 70s. And they probably don’t care. But you do.

What I do personally as a way around that, is try and find ONE person in the whole audience that seems responsive. You can see it in their eyes. I pretend there’s nobody else in the room, and sing for them. I do not necessarily look at them the whole time (it could be a girl for example, and she might get embarrassed), but I notice their reaction, and try to play as if I’m auditioning for that one person. And usually everybody else follows. Which of course is a problem when there’s not many other people around to follow.

Oh and a final tip if you ever go on stage: never use a stool. Not even if you’re going to sing a ballad. Staning up forces you to move, and that helps the audience tune in better. I saw a huge difference in people’s reaction the moment I got rid of my stool. And of course it made me sing more dance songs and dance around on stage. (and also helped me lose weight, which is just a perk)

shrubbery's avatar

I think that younger people haven’t yet learned that there is no point being so self-conscious and they feel that they have something to lose by “embarrassing” themselves, so it is the older ones who dance.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

“I grow old…I grow old…I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.”

Darwin's avatar

“When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick the flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.”

PandoraBoxx's avatar

@Darwin, was it you who rearranged my closet? have you seen my purple skirt?

Darwin's avatar

@PandoraBoxx – Why would I rearrange your closet? I don’t even arrange (or rearrange) my own. You mean this one?

PandoraBoxx's avatar

:-) Wearing purple t-shirt, khaki skirt, red thong sandals at the moment…

tiffyandthewall's avatar

i think the problem is people who think they’re too cool to be into the music publicly.
i hate that. and i hate when people give me dirty looks because i’m enjoying myself. i respect their space, and don’t scream in their ears. i don’t lean on people’s shoulders to take pictures, etc. and i get weird looks because i don’t look bored. it’s so lame.

A_Beaverhausen's avatar

sounds like everyone has a stick up their ass.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

@A_Beaverhausen, that is a pretty accurate description.

Strauss's avatar

I had a part time job for a while with a company that provided security for concerts and other venues. I saw dancing at almost all the shows I worked. I found it hard to stand there watching the crowd and not dance myself. I saw Phil Lesh, who was amazing. There were at least three generations of Deadheads dancing to the jams. I also saw Gogol Bordello, with many folks wearing purple, most dancing. I also saw George Clinton of funkadelic fame, again with many many folks dancing.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

I went to both Gomez this week, and there did seem to be quite a bit more movement among the crowd; on the other hand, it was a bit older crowd than most shows.

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