The Dos And Don'ts Of Gig Etiquette

We all love losing our shit at gigs, don't we? But there's always one person (or people) who are adamant about filming the entire thing on their phone or talking all the way through your favourite song. Next time that happens, we suggest you show them this...

DO “keep an eye out for each other, alright? If you see someone going down, help him out, alright? That’s what we’re here to do, help each other out.” Thus spake Tom Araya on Slayer’s 1991 live album Decade Of Aggression (before adding “This is a little song called WAAAARRR EEENSEEEMBLEEE!”), and it’s still a fairly hefty rule one.

DON’T record the show on your iPad or iPhone or non-brand-specific budget recording medium. It doesn’t take Kate Bush to realise that glaring at the stage through a blurry wobbling handheld device is not the best way to connect with an artist. Live for the moment, no one wants to see your shitty clip on YouTube.

DO bring a lighter and wave it during the mellow bits. Because a sea of tiny flickering flames is a far more stirring and evocative image than a patchy landscape of cold white glaring screens. (You don’t have to be a smoker, get a special lighter just for waving. Proper smokers probably don’t do it anyway as it wastes fuel.)

DON’T turn up late and expect to get near the front if you’re tall. Hundreds of short and medium-sized people have managed to manipulate themselves into the optimum spot to see at least some of the action, imagine how crushed they are when you gangling herberts maraud your way in front of them and stop, condemning them to an evening scrutinising faded ten-year-old tour dates.

DO wear whatever t-shirt you like. Some haughty posers try to argue that you should never ever wear the shirt of the band you’re seeing at the gig, but that’s balls, as any Iron Maiden concert proves. Besides, clearly the coolest way to choose a t-shirt is by pulling one off the floor without even looking.

DON’T yammer. Amazing how many people still carry on yelling witless small talk at each other when there’s a band playing in front of them; more amazing still that some of them try to justify their discourtesy with the argument ‘it’s the band’s fault for not holding my attention’. Take your chatter elsewhere, or save it for after the gig when you won’t have to shout it into your friend’s earhole.

DO bang your head. It’s odd how little proper headbanging occurs at metal shows these days, it’s all either circular body-slamming or gradually supping a pint with barely a nod of the cranium. Don’t resist the instinct: bang that head that doesn’t bang!

DON’T feel embarrassed about air-guitaring. Some find it rather passe and outre and other wanky French words, but like headbanging, it developed because it was such a natural, satisfying and unselfconsciously joyful reaction to the music. (Don’t do ‘air guitar competitions’ though, that’s just stupid).

DO wear boots, not trainers or, god help you, sandals. A tight space crammed with people jumping up and down requires tough, sensible footwear.

DON’T grab, grope, squeeze, tweak, rub, frot or generally impose yourself inappropriately on the bodies of strangers, even if this might be the closest you’re ever going to get to a lady’s bum. That sort of pervy malarkey - or ‘indecent assault’ as it’s also known - might result in you getting some tough, sensible footwear in your testicles.

DO hitch up your bellbottoms when you enter the toilet, lest you drag them through piss and sick and only notice when you sit down, cross your legs and rest your forearm across it.

DON’T fling beer. Why would you fling beer? What would possess anybody to toss a half-empty cup of stinking chemicals over people’s heads and clothes? Unless you’ve had an argument with the first six rows and you’re going to storm off in a huff (the big ‘DO’ in this scenario is ‘drink the beer’).

Chris Chantler

Chris has been writing about heavy metal since 2000, specialising in true/cult/epic/power/trad/NWOBHM and doom metal at now-defunct extreme music magazine Terrorizer. Since joining the Metal Hammer famileh in 2010 he developed a parallel career in kids' TV, winning a Writer's Guild of Great Britain Award for BBC1 series Little Howard's Big Question as well as writing episodes of Danger Mouse, Horrible Histories, Dennis & Gnasher Unleashed and The Furchester Hotel. His hobbies include drumming (slowly), exploring ancient woodland and watching ancient sitcoms.