By: Kelly Yambor, Aggravated Concert-Goer
The Buzzkill Crowd at 96.5 Buzz Beach Ball
Last summer, I was lucky enough to score a free ticket to 96.5 Buzz Beach Ball at Berkely Riverfront Park in Kansas City, MO. Although I missed Atlas Genius and Wavves, I did make it in time to see most of Cage The Elephant, Awolnation, Alt-J and Phoenix – all of which were fantastic acts. While I was able to embrace the music and enjoy myself most of the time, it became increasingly difficult to do so as the night went on and the crowd got bigger. I’ve been to a fair amount of concerts in my lifetime, so I’m not new to obnoxious audience members or crowd surfers, or the scent of various drugs lurking in the air. However, this was by far the worst crowd I have ever been a part of.
These people were not only rude to the audience members around them who were actually trying to listen to the music, but they were disrespectful to the artists trying to perform. I could tell that most of the people I was surrounded by only knew about one or two songs from each artist, if that. Not that it’s necessary to know every single song by every band you ever see, but at least be willing to listen and appreciate whatever the band chooses to play. I heard a lot of “I just want them to play Sail,” during Awolnation and “When’s Breezeblocks going to come on?” during Alt-J. Most people took the opportunity to have a conversation during the less popular hits. This only added to my frustration when they went on to push and shove me to get as close to the stage as possible for these artists that they seemingly could not care less about. I’m five feet tall, is my presence really that much of an inconvenience? Even worse was having to listen to the lame excuses – those “I’m trying to find my friend” and “I lost my phone up there” lines. Whether these excuses were real or not, I showed very little sympathy.
By far, the most shocking part of the night was when I saw a decent amount of people leaving before Phoenix came on. Phoenix was the best act out of the whole night, complete with lead singer Thomas Mars crowdsurfing, and a setlist compiled of everything from their first album to never before heard songs. They, alone, were probably worth half of that ticket, why would you leave for the headlining act? It was fairly obvious that most of these people bought the rather expensive festival tickets to get drunk, get high, dress like hipsters and have some decent background noise through it all. Don’t get me wrong, I love a drunk Ron Swanson – but not when he’s elbowing the crap out of me while I try to enjoy a show.
It’s shows like these that make me cynical about the whole concert attending ritual. I’m beginning to think that people in general have started to take concerts and festivals for granted. They don’t see how experiencing bands such as Phoenix or Alt-J or Awolnation in person is something that a lot of people out there would kill to be able to do, and how rare it is to have so many great artists in one place. They go to party and they ignore the music. I’m not saying that you’re not allowed to have fun at a concert – go ahead and dance, sing along, and crowd surf; that’s what the artists want! What they don’t want is to be the last thing you’re paying attention to. I’ve had enough of these buzzkill crowds, so much so that the next show I go to, I will be prepared.
Seeing as I don’t want to completely lose my faith in concert attendance (and don’t really want to take a light saber each time I go to a show), I’ve compiled the following list of suggestions to make every show you attend an enjoyable one for you, and everyone around you:
- If you don’t know the artist that well, listen to new songs with an open mind – that’s one of the best aspects of live music.
- Don’t feel like the only way you can get a great experience is by plowing your way to the front of the crowd. After all you’re there to hear the music, not necessarily get a great view of the band.
- If you want to get crazy and party, please pick an appropriate show to do so at. Many of my concert experiences have been somewhat ruined by overly aggressive moshers and unnecessarily drunk dancers who get angry when no one else is dancing with them.
- To all the tall people: please, please, let shorties like me stand in front of you. Maybe technically you got there first, but there’s nothing worse than singing along to your favorite band directly into the sweaty back of the dude in front of you.
- If the performers are the last thing on your mind, don’t bother buying a ticket in the first place. Why waste your money when you could just get drunk at home and blast Robyn on your own speakers?
- Most importantly, ignore the jerks! As distracting and obnoxious as they can be, don’t let them ruin any part of your concert experience.
Kelly Yambor is a sophomore at the University of Missouri from Annapolis, MD. While she is currently majoring in Secondary Social Studies Education, she lives and breathes music. The majority of her spare time is spent listening to music, helping behind the scenes of concerts and festivals, attending concerts or blogging about music. She has volunteered at festivals such as Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, Roots N’ Blues N’ BBQ, and the music team for True/False Film Festival. Kelly also helps bring live music to Mizzou as an officer for the Department of Student Activities’ College Music Committee.