Live music is finally back. Two experts break down concert etiquette

After two years of being in live music precarity concerts are back in full force and some big players are lined up for Toronto this summer.

The Weeknd, Kendrick Lamar, Harry Styles, Charlotte Day Wilson, Joey Bada$$ are all on the docket, along with OVO Fest, Manifesto and Toronto’s first ever Rolling Loud festival.

So it’s going to be pandemonium in the city and it’s already begun.

During Phoebe Bridgers’ recent show at Echo Beach there was already reports of a bit of chaos.

Many concertgoers have pent up energy they’re just waiting to set loose. And there’s a new group of people who’ve never been to a concert just entering the scene.

But it can’t be anarchy at shows — there’s etiquette and best practices to abide by.

The Star enlisted DJ Dirty Happy, AJ Quarashi, who crafted his Raving Taco online persona based on attending hundreds of electronic concerts and festivals during the 2010s, as well as Toronto’s legendary concertgoer MindBenderwhose prolific attendance has led him to “probably a few thousand” concerts, to offer their advice on how to behave properly at shows.

The Star enlisted Toronto's legendary hip hop fan MindBender, whose prolific attendance has led him to "probably a few thousand" concerts, to offer his advice on how to behave properly at shows.

Pick people up if they fall

Moshpits aren’t solely reserved for punk and metal shows anymore — they’re everywhere.

They’re a staple at hip hop shows depending on the artist and with the amount of pent up energy a two-year pandemic has generated, they’re bound to become more prolific.

While bouncing off people, Mindbender says it’s important to be mindful of the people you’re moshing with, especially if they hit the deck.

“Pick people up off the ground if they’re hurt or bleeding,” Mindbender said. He also mentions that it’s important to note the size of people you’re bouncing off. “Try not to destroy somebody that’s 100 pounds lighter than you.”

Don’t throw things on stage

Quarashi, as both Dirty Happy the DJ and Raving Taco the fan, has been on both sides of the artist-fan interaction when he’s seen things thrown on stage.

Largely, I consider it a bad idea.

“It’s a big liability. Definitely bottles and stuff are a huge no. I think overall it is probably not a good idea.”

There is a bit of a wiggle room with it though. Some artists have traditions for their shows that allow people to throw certain things on stage.

“I know (with) A$AP Rocky, women constantly throw bras on stage and there’s certain artists where it’s a tradition to throw bras on stage,” Mindbender explained. “I’ve seen many Cypress Hill shows, it’s a tradition to throw blunts and joints on stage as they close the show so that makes sense.”

The Star enlisted AJ Quarashi, who crafted his Raving Taco online persona based on attending hundreds of electronic concerts and festivals, to offer his advice on how to behave properly at shows.

Be aware of your height

Standing at 6’1” Mindbender is hyperaware of what his height means at a concert, even to the point of tailoring his outfit to minimize his obstruction.

“If you’re tall make sure that you don’t wear a hat,” he said. “If you wear a hat, try to be aware of sightlines unless you’re really decked out wearing the wild outfit for this wild artist. If you’re that person, then be aware of the people behind you and maybe kind of move off to the side a bit or maybe just try to minimize the amount of people behind you that you’re blocking.”

Make sure people know you’re about to crowd surf

Pushing the envelope when it comes to experiencing the concert is at an all-time high right now.

One of the most popular ways to generate the ultimate concert experience en masse is to crowd surf. The catch, though, crowd surfing requires buy-in from at least a portion of the crowd.

“You got to have your main people that are going to hold you up because if you randomly jump you’re just going to get dropped,” Quarashi said. “I’ve seen that happen. People are gonna jump into the crowd and everyone steps back. You just see them go,” he added, clapping his hands together to simulate splatting.

Don’t get too blitzed

A drink, or two, or three, might be in the works for most of us, but Mindbender encourages those attending concerts to know their limit.

At a certain point it’s not about those around you, it could end your experience at a once-in-a lifetime opportunity.

“I’m not gonna go to (a) show… then drink six beers, puke and miss a third of the concert, like what?” he said.

Sing your heart out

This one comes with a caveat, sing your heart out … when it’s appropriate.

“You are at the show to let go of everything that you’ve been holding in,” Quarashi said. “Your favorite artist is finally in town and you’re there so you can scream those lyrics as loud as you can because you can’t do that at home or at the bus stop.”

Obviously everyone at the concert is there because they love the music or they were dragged there by someone else who does. But just because you’re supposed to dance like nobody is watching and sing like nobody is listening, doesn’t mean you should sing the wrong lyrics, explained Mindbender.

“If you don’t know the verses, just stick to the chorus or stick to that one punch line or that one line that you know really well. Like stick to the parts you really love and the songs you love. If you want to (just) listen, you could probably stay home.”

Live the experience through your eyes not your phone

Phones are the diciest topic when it comes to concerts because although it’s amazing to live through an experience, it’s also enticing to capture it for later.

But then consider how frequently you go back to watch videos on your phone of things you’ve recorded in the past. For Quarashi, it might not be entirely worth it.

“I like taking videos, but then there’s the other side where people will end up watching the concert through their phone screen the entire time,” he said. “They don’t realize that they’re watching their phone when there’s a concert right there. Like, don’t take videos the entire time.”

Don’t be that person — protect the space

It’s easy to lose yourself in the mix of emotions at a concert, but one thing that needs to be protected above all else is the space.

Artists and their fans develop reputations, not all of them good. For example, rapper Playboi Carti’s fans’ reputation took a hit after they relentlessly booed Rico Nasty in the middle of her opening set.

Just as much as people on stage need to be respected, the venue does too.

“I don’t leave garbage,” said Mindbender. “That’s really trash behavior because I like to go back to concerts and if you’re really a concert lover, you know that if the place is destroyed at the end of it, that place is not probably thinking of booking them again.”


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