Concerts

Let’s crowdsource this question on concert etiquette: To stand or not to stand? [UPDATED]

Over the weekend, I got this email from Grant:

I know I’m at a point where I don’t want to stand for an entire 2+ hour show. My body can’t handle it any longer. 

At every show, there’s always that person, with a front-row seat standing for the whole show. Or the group of people all in a row that have to stand where the entire section around them is seated. (For context, I’m referencing heritage acts like Eagles, Journey, Brian Adams or Springsteen.  All attract crowds in our age demographic.)

I feel they paid for a ticket just like me, If the music moves you to stand, so be it. Would it be wrong to ask politely if they would consider sitting periodically so I can see the stage? It blows my mind they don’t read the room and realize they are alone in their enthusiasm and the lone person blocking the view from countless rows behind them.

I’ve actually gone out of my way to thank people in front of me after shows for their choice to sit for the show so I too could give my body a break. For the record, I’m in good health. I exercise daily. I have no orthopedic issues. It’s just that standing on concrete for hours is tough. 

Would you under any circumstances ever consider asking an enthusiastic fan if they could take a seat now and again?

This is an excellent question for which I don’t really have an answer. What do you think? Is it okay to ask someone in front of you to sit down so you can see the show? Or are you robbing that person of the concert experience they paid for?

UPDATE: Here’s a list of things only jerks do at concerts. Thoughts?

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38465 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

18 thoughts on “Let’s crowdsource this question on concert etiquette: To stand or not to stand? [UPDATED]

  • If people seated in front of me stand, then so do I. They sit down I’ll sit down. When in Rome…

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  • Theatre shows are one thing. Arena shows… all bets are off. If the spirit moves you to stand in an arena then I’m not gonna stop you or get mad.

    I saw ELO not too long ago at Radio City (It’s a traditional theatre set up.) and I was 2/3 back of the lower level. Most of the folks around me were over 60. When the people in front of us stood up, I stood up, and the people behind me were NOT happy about it. So, in a situation like that… you’re in a grey area. I don’t want to look at somebody’s ass for a whole show, but I want to be respectful. Luckily, in that situation, I just kind of shrugged it off as… it’s not my fault.

    Reading the room is your best bet. If rows and rows of people are standing then join them, but if you’re the only one… then maybe sit down. And then the flip side of that coin is… Well, I paid $600 for this night, I’m dancing!!! There’s really no right answer here.

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  • You’re not robbing them of the experience. They can see and hear just as well sitting as standing. A group of people standing and blocking the people behind them are the ones robbing others of the experience if they’re blocking someone’s view.

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  • Nah, I’m going to move and dance if the music moves me, and most bands I go to see will move me.

    If you want to sit at a concert you better expect to not see much.

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  • There isn’t really a right answer here. But another factor that’s worth mentioning is height. As someone married to a shorter person, I am always mindful of her ability to see. Most of the time while sitting she can, but not always, and while standing? Forget it. So I try to get tickets at the front of sections of aisles so she has a chance, but Joe venues are charging a premium for those! If only there was a way to seat everyone in such a way that they could see no matter what.. perhaps free boosters and periscopes should be handed out 🙂 either way, it’s definitely a touchy subject.

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  • Usually, I purchase ticket for general admission. I like to stand, jump, mosh and just go nuts during a concert, especially if it’s a high energy show or a band I really like. I can’t see myself sitting during a Metallica or Guns N’ Roses show, for instance. I find it boring to sit during a concert, but I respect and understand people who like it and need…and I understand the high physical demand that is going to a concert at a certain age. I’m in my very early 40s, and it is getting harder.

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  • A concert is participatory, performers feed off the energy of the crowd. I always feel a greater responsibility to show enthusiasm to the artist than worry about people around me who’d rather spectate than participate.

    If a few people sit, it affects their enjoyment. If many sit, you’ll get a subpar performance, and everyones enjoyment is reduced, including the artists.

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  • That list in the update is missing the biggest one: talking. I’ve been to so many shows where I’ve had to tell people to be quiet because they wouldn’t STFU, often for the entire show. If you aren’t going to listen, WTF did you come for?

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  • This is the reading I stopped going to live shows, we saw Bare Naked Ladies in Burlington before the pandemic and were maybe 20 rows away but had to stand to see anything for 2 hours!

    Lots of concerts to stream with cheaper food and booze and my own bathroom.

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  • Its situational I think. I saw Fleet Foxes at Massey Hall a few years ago. I was in the balcony. That was definitely a seated show (and as an aside, was heavenly to sit there and just absorb it all). But if it is a dancing type of band, I will be up if the moment hits me.

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  • In general, I’d say sit for seated shows. It at least gives shorter people a chance to see the show. Whereas if people are standing, the tall people will block the view of the short people. (I’m very tall so I try not to stand in front of others… in general admission standing shows, I usually tend to stay at the back of the room even so I’m not block shows. In seated shows, I try to slouch down a bit in the seat for the people behind me to get a good view.

    Anyway, if the band wanted a standing show, they can book a standing venue. As I see it, booking a seated venue means it should be…seated. If I pay for a seated ticket, I’d like to be able to sit and still see the show and not be blocked.

    A hybrid solution is to book a hybrid venue: standing area for those who want to stand, seating area for those who want to sit. We could extend this concept: Mosh pit for those who want to mosh, fight club area for those who want to fight, vomitorium for those who want to…

    My significant other has a back problem which causes pain if she has to stand too long, so we end up not going to some shows we would like to see if we think people will be standing the whole time.

    I also think it’s quite possible to show one’s enthusiasm for the acts and artists while seated…depends on the act and music style, I guess.

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    • I went to a concert today, bought the tickets six months ago and had been really looking forward to it. Every ticket was for a seat, there was no designated standing area. I have a spinal injury which means it is painful to stand for very long. During the support acts everything was fine, everyone was seated and enjoying the show. Then as soon as the main act started pretty much everyone stood. I was physically unable to join them so I had to endure looking at everyone’s backsides for the rest of the concert while watching what little I could on the big screens between the heads of people bobbing around in front. This is the last time I will be going to a concert.

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  • But really, I find it’s cell phones that ruin shows. Fine, take a couple quick photos…but videotaping entire sections so I get to watch the show through your screen which is blocking my view of the actual performance…. makes no sense.

    I’ve been to a few shows over the past couple of years where artists (young arists, by the way) asked politely that people keep their cell phones put away, not film or take photos, so as not to distract from the atmosphere the performers were trying to create, and to make it a more intimate and “now” experience, if you will. Almost everyone complied, with only a couple quick exceptions. It really made a difference. The performance felt so focused, and the audience seemed to live and breathe every note and gesture. It was a beautiful thing.

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  • Can we also add “standing in the aisle between two sections” to the list of bad concert behaviour? If your tickets are on the aisle and you step out to make room for dancing, that’s totally fine. If you have tickets in an entirely different section and are weaseling your way down to the aisle in the lower bowl to get closer to the stage, NOT COOL!

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  • Its not the fault of the individual rockers thats the problem, its down to the companies/people who prioritise profit by creating venues where there are more seated tickets than standing. A venue with more standing space will hold less people but when you can have seats stacked almost vertically upon one another with minimal legroom; cha’ching!
    You will find that most people in the seated area would prefer to be in the standing area but couldn’t get a ticket. Ultimately, these venues aren’t suitable for rock concerts; square peg round hole but as long as profits are being made then people will continue having to complain about people standing in the seated section.

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  • If you buy a seat then you should be able to sit in it for the majority of the event and be able to see. Nothing will change with these rude A-holes who stand the whole show until someone gets hurt. Saw Neil Young the other day and jerks stood during the acoustic set! It wasn’t always like this. It’s just part of the decaying society that is destroying this country.

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  • We recently went to the Royal Albert Hall to see Bryan Adams. Brilliant seats – 4 rows from front, could practically touch them! As soon as they start playing guy in front of me (must have been 7ft) stands and totally blocks my view. After a couple of numbers I politely said to him “you are exceptionally tall!” He then changed places with his much shorter partner. Then my husband couldn’t see but he didn’t mind. What I would like to know – should I have kept quiet- I felt bad about it and his partner gave me dirty looks throughout. I am 75.

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  • Went to a seated venue last night and there was an entire row of drunk women who stood dancing the entire show. I just don’t understand who thinks it’s OK. My experience was ruined. I could not see at all. They ruined the view for several rows behind them. I just don’t get it. I would never selfishly impact the people behind me with such behavior.

    Reply

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