Jerkwards at Live Shows: an International Epidemic

I’ve been there before and so have you, no doubt. You’re at a show, perhaps even up front a few feet from the band, when two people next to you decide to hold a conversation. They’re completely oblivious to the music and, despite the fact that they’re shouting to be heard, are behaving as if they’re passing time in a cafe. Their motivations are unknown and their reasoning is oblique. Where are they there? Why did they pay for a ticket and all the annoying fees that go along with it just to ignore the performance? Do they really, really need to bitch about their boss rightthatbloodyminute?

Either I’m a magnet for these people or they’re far more prevalent than I’ve previously surmised. These chatterboxes have tarnished plenty of nights at the Crystal Ballroom and the Roseland. I’ve stopped going to acoustic shows entirely. There’s just no point.

Is this just a Portland phenomenon? Is there something about the city’s venues that work like the Blarney Stone?

My conclusion: nope, nope and more nope.

This strange behavior is also a common occurrence over here in the Netherlands. The crowd at a September Josh Ritter show at the Paradiso in Amsterdam was well behaved but a group of Dutch guys were so obnoxious during an acoustic portion of Delorean’s set in Haarlem earlier this month that the lead singer cut it short. Tift Merritt, a singer/songwriter who opened for Iron and Wine last Tuesday in Amsterdam, became visibly riled by talkers during her set. She complained to Samuel Beam backstage afterwards. During Iron and Wine’s performance, he demanded that the crowd apologize to her. “All together now,” Beam disdainfully announced. “SORRY, TIFT!” The audience begrudgingly went along with this.

That’s not to say that crap behavior at shows is limited to talkers. There’s also people who spill beer all over the place and those who film everything on their iPhone with the screen as bright as possible. Oh, and there’s my personal favorite: sweat-soaked, overly-affectionate stoned couples who dance salaciously while obliviously bumping into everyone around them.

Which of these categories do I fall into? I’ll give you three guesses.

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