A few days ago we posted about people talking at gigs here . We concluded by asking the question what could be done about the problem ? Or is it a problem at all ?
First let’s examine the second question. Is it a problem at all ? Well it certainly is for some people judging by comments on the first part of this blog as well as some emails received by Breaking More Waves. But not everyone considers this issue a problem. For many going to a gig is a social event, a way to spend a few hours with friends, and over the band chatter is part of the evening. Yet such chatter can be a spoiler for others. In many ways the argument has similarities to arguments about passive smoking a few years back, before the smoking ban in indoor public spaces and workplaces was introduced.
So if for some it is a problem, what can be done about it ?
One distinction that needs to be drawn is the type of gig we are talking about. At a loud rock gig, talking is less of an issue. At such concerts we believe that atmosphere can be added when people are singing along or celebrating noisily, you only have to witness the number of stadium and arena shows where bands actively encourage the audience to join in. At such shows, if someone is chatting it has less impact on those around them, because of the sound levels. Then if you take a band like Iron Maiden or My Bloody Valentine, chatting becomes an impossibility as the volume gets turned up to absurdly loud ear crunching levels.
So the type of gig where chatter is a potential problem is the quieter or acoustic gig. Such gigs demand the full attention of the audience and any talk can be disruptive for everyone in the room. It is a wonderful experience to watch a gig where the audience is respectful, giving themselves the chance to immerse themselves fully in the music.
Now we revert back to the first question. What can be done about the problem ? Let’s focus on quiet gigs here. In terms of behavioural change gig goers can be encouraged to alter their ways through positive actions or a more heavy handed enforcing type role can be implemented to help people to reconsider their chattering. It’s the carrot or the stick argument. At one local venue in our home town of Portsmouth in the UK the promoter of quieter gigs takes to the stage before the gig starts and asks people to keep chat to a minimum during performances, and those that don’t will be asked to leave. This may seem a little officiously controlling but it works and provides a good evening for both audience and artist. There’s still plenty of time for chat in between bands. Other venues in other towns have signs up on the walls requesting quiet, but these are sometimes ignored unless there is a penalty to pay such as eviction from the venue. Of course potentially the most powerful person to encourage is the artist themselves. Yet only very rarely have we actually seen an artist at an acoustic show ask for quiet. Is this because an artist accepts that people may chat, or is it because they don’t want to upset their ‘audience’ ? Of course if someone in the audience is talking too much, as an audience member you can politely ask them to quieten down, but this runs an increased risk of aggravating the situation as one of our readers commented on part one of this blog.
Certainly from experiences we have had at quieter gigs the carrot with a small threat of a stick achieves the objective of a quiet venue the best, although there may be the odd disgruntled punter. For noisier and bigger gigs the solutions are less easy, especially as everyone going to these types of gig will have different expectations of acceptable behaviour.