the supergig guide to rock and roll etiquette

last weekend i saw Madina Lake, Every Avenue, Good 4 Nothing, The Shower Scene, and Evident Phase at the Creepy Crawl. the concert was good...well, at least three of the bands were. one was mediocre. one was awful.

and, the behaviour by some of the rockers and some of the fans was just inexcusable.

Madina Lake is one of my favourite bands from Chicago, and they always put on passionate shows that make the crowd go nuts. they're a little bit emo and a little bit rock. i've known them all since they were in their previous bands...Mateo and Dan used to be in Reforma, and Nathan and Matthew used to be in The Blank Theory. Madina Lake's music is significantly different from either of these old bands, but just as worth listening to. their song "Adalia" is one of the defining songs of my law school life...what can i say? law school can make a girl feel really emotionally disconnected sometimes, just like the subject of this song. furthermore, even though this band has gone further than any of their previous bands, they haven't gotten too big for their britches. they're still really nice guys off the stage, and act exactly the same way now as when they were playing much smaller venues to much smaller crowds.

Good 4 Nothing has an awful [and awfully trite] band name...but their music was amazing. they played fast pop-punk with tight harmonies and fun stage presence to match; i'm glad they made the trip over from Japan to play. The Shower Scene is a local band from Carbondale, Illinois, who plays really solid emo. they're a fairly new band, but i'm expecting really good things from them in the future.

i wasn't too crazy about Evident Phase. the instrumentalists were competent enough, but their original songs were not all that interesting, and their singer couldn't sing. they weren't the worst band i'd ever heard, but i have no desire to hear them again.

and then...there was Every Avenue. they were one of the worst live bands i have ever seen. their music stole every cliche that Fall Out Boy uses, but performed them significantly less competently. furthermore, the lead singer had a terrible attitude. so terrible, in fact, that he inspired me to create:

the supergig guide to rock and roll etiquette!

1. do not act entitled to the crowd's adoration.

merely standing on the stage does not entitle you to the crowd's love and adoration. you must earn it by playing good music.

this sounds like a simple enough principle, but Every Avenue didn't quite get it. during the show, the singer and one of the guitarists kept asking for the crowd to cheer. their noses stayed turned in the air, their body posture haughty. they carried themselves liked they owned the stage, the club, and all of the people inside the club. that may work in Michigan, where they are from, and where they doubtless know enough people on the music scene that they might be able to get away with acting like they're hot stuff. they may be big fish in the small pond there.

but, they didn't know anyone here. they needed to work for their cheers, and they didn't. they played extremely boring music, and alienated the crowd some more by acting the way they did. they complained about how dead the crowd was, and told us we could do better than that when we did manage a lackluster noise.

it was rather impressive, really, how quickly they lost the crowd. they were the fourth band to play--they played right after Good 4 Nothing and right before Madina Lake. Good 4 Nothing had the crowd jumping, moshing, and going nuts despite the fact that almost no one there knew who they were. the crowd was buzzing--enjoying the high from a really good punk band, and excited to see Madina Lake next. we didn't need much to keep the high going, and Every Avenue failed to deliver even that marginal bit of interest to keep the crowd's pulse going.

and yet, they acted entitled to everyone's love. it wouldn't have been so bad if they didn't act so full of themselves. we would have cheered at least a little if they had just gone up there, been earnest, and played what they had without giving us an attitude. but, they didn't. a rock crowd knows phonies when we see them, and Every Avenue was a bunch of phonies.

2. don't spit water on people.

splashing fresh water on the crowd is okay. it gets hot in the mosh pit. water is refreshing and cool. fresh water is clean. Madina Lake knew this. a lot of the crowd got wet during their set, but this is because Nathan kept opening fresh bottles of water and then tossing them into the crowd. this was very nice of Nathan to do.

but, the key word is fresh. the fact that water is refreshing does not mean that you should take a big swig of water and then spit it out on the crowd. this sounds like a pretty obvious rule of etiquette, but somebody didn't quite get that. and by somebody, of course i mean the lead singer of Every Avenue.

several times during the show, he spit water out on the crowd. i was in the middle, a few rows back from the stage. this means that several times during the show, i had his nasty saliva-tainted water raining down on me. this did not make me happy. i was already frustrated enough at his band because their music was boring and their attitude was haughty. the fact that the lead singer was spitting on me did not endear me any more to them.

if these two rules of etiquette went a little long for you, i'll shorten it. Rocker Etiquette For Dummies? don't be this bagga doucha:

the fans at this show are not off the hook, either. a few bad apples in the crowd necessitate a third rule in this guide to rock and roll etiquette:

3. don't chuck ceiling tiles at people.

this one should be obvious. since i had the occasion to think of such an admonition, it was clearly not obvious to a few people at the Creepy last saturday night.

during Madina Lake's set, the crowd started bopping large balloons around. this is no problem at all. balloons are light, safe, and don't have sharp edges.

the problem is that the Creepy Crawl is a major dive, and the ceiling tiles aren't securely anchored to the ceiling. when the balloons hit the ceiling tiles, sometimes the ceiling tiles would dislodge and fall to the floor. i wasn't worried about this at first. i assumed the people would have the good sense to either keep the tiles on the floor or to whisk them away to the sides of the room as soon as posslble.

but, a few morons in the crowd did not have this good sense. instead, they decided that the proper thing to do would be to chuck the ceiling tiles at other people in the crowd, as hard as possible. of course, no one threw them like frisbees so they would even have a chance of flying out to the sides and staying there. no. they threw the tiles overhand, from overhead, the tiles perpendicular to the floor...so they had the best possible chance to hit people really, really hard.

this meant i got a faceful of ceiling tile.

i was looking in one direction, trying to keep my eye on multiple ceiling tiles. suddenly, from the other direction, a ceiling tile hit me in the face: its edge smacked right down the left side of my face. it hurt! a lot! and even worse, the entire underside and edges of the tile were covered in fibreglass insulation. thus, not only was i sore--i was picking prickly little pieces of fibreglass out of my face for twenty-four hours solid.

there are certain things that are known, anticipated hazards of going to rock shows. i was expecting my ears to be ringing for a day or two. i was expecting a few bruises from being down in the pit. i could have possibly even foreseen the nasty spit-laced water showers. but, a ceiling tile? a day of picking fibreglass out of my face? that came out of nowhere.

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