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Old 04-26-2009, 10:06 AM   #1
Join Date: May 2000
Posts: 15,630
Default Talking at concerts-article

Rather than disrupt concerts, loudmouths should return to movie theatre COLUMN COMMENT
Posted By Tom Mills
Updated 23 hours ago

When i bought tickets to two concerts at the Essar centre last weekend, i thought thousands of people would attend these shows to see and hear canadian legends neil young and gordon lightfoot perform their music.

Boy, was i wrong.

the men and women in the row behind me set me right. Both nights.

they made it loud and clear that some people spend big bucks to attend concerts in order to talk loudly to each other, preferably about very stupid things. if the conversational topics are intimate personal matters, so much the better.

and what's modern conversation without the use of a cell phone, so someone who isn't even there can annoy concertgoers?

"Hello." "What?" "WHat?"

"yeah, it's really great." (presumably "it" was the trivial verbal garbage drowning out someone who has spent four decades establishing a reputation as a brilliant singer/songwriter.)

it was also abundantly obvious that i had spent the equivalent of a mortgage payment not just to listen to neil young and gordon lightfoot, but to hear a heated discussion of which album a particular song came from or to catch up on a dispute with some-one's daughter about a ride home from work.

one group talked, over and over, about a friend they claimed had been too cheap to buy a ticket. i was willing to bet the friend figured if he wanted to spend a couple of hours listening to them, all it would cost him was a cup of coffee at the food court in the mall.

now, it doesn't take much to outvolume lightfoot, whose voice, while it has retained some of its characteristic timbre and tone, is more than a few decibels short of its former glory.

But to make your verbal crap heard over a screaming guitar riff by neil young takes a special talent, one that i might have been moved to recognize properly had i not had one arm in a sling. i could neither applaud nor punch.

now, some might suspect those concert yackers were young people, whose enthusiasm sometimes trumps their consideration for others. Wrong. Both groups were middle aged. Boorishness, i seems, is inter-generational.

no one expects or wants people to sit on their hands at a concert. still, if a certain amount of clapping, singing along, dancing and spilling beer is tolerable, top-volume conversational drivel by _______ (insert anatomical term here) is not.

it would have been less offensive to those around them if these people had been smoking. in fact, depending on what they chose to smoke, it might have been nostalgic.

in any case, i think Essar centre officials should do something about concert-talkers, just as they would about other offensive behaviors that intrude on ticket holders' enjoyment. surely the centre's responsibility goes beyond just providing the entertainment, seats, beer and washroom facilities.

Before many musical or theatrical performances, including those of the algoma Fall Festival, stratford and shaw festivals, there is a brief announcement reminding patrons to shut off their cell phones. Essar centre should do the same, perhaps with a general admonition to respect other patrons.

it wouldn't necessarily work-- i once saw a woman dig into her purse during a local theatre production to answer her cell, then carry on a lengthy phone conversation-- but at least it might remind people they are at a concert and not in their living-rooms.

signs and posters at entrances, asking people to be considerate of those around them, might help as well.

i suppose having "loud talking" and "no loud talking" sections at concerts wouldn't be feasible, although right now standards of behaviour differ depending on whether you are on the floor, in the seats or in the private boxes.

likewise, Essar might be unwilling to bear the expense of opening early for pre-concert gabfests, the boor's equivalent of the tailgate parties held before football games. if they ran out of things to say before the show, or became too drunk to talk, we'd all be happy.

Mind you, if enough people out there are willing to spend $70 to go to a concert and talk through good portions of it, maybe there's a commercial opportunity there for the Essar centre.

How about yackfest? people enamoured with the sound of their own voices could shout inanities back and forth for two hours, while concert videos play. there could be contests, with prizes for the highest decibel levels or the most boring sentence.

But i despair that anyone will do anything about rude concert talkers, short of angry individuals administering an occasional elbow to the mouth.

so i'll make this appeal to the loudmouths.

go back where you belong: the movie theatre.
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