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Wreath Lectures

Wreath Lecture: Braying Crowds & The Accidental Death of Quiet Music
David Bennun , December 12th, 2013 06:41

2013 was the year when crowds talking loudly at gigs became a universal aggravation, writes David Bennun. He asks why this is the case, and bids a fond farewell to quiet music in the live arena

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Photo by Valerio Berdini

On Eurythmics' masterpiece Savage there's an acoustic track, 'I Need You', which plays in and out over a hubbub of voices - a device the duo underlined with a video that depicts them onstage while chattering silhouettes pass across the foreground, oblivious. It's an experience any performer will recognise: providing music that is, however reluctantly so, incidental. What is peculiar to our age is that it is now the lot not only of those who play at parties, in pubs or bars and so on, but of almost any artist at every level of performance, when they play anything too soft to blot out the human voice. The gig-talkers have won. It holds out in pockets here and there, but for the most part, quiet music, as a live affair, is done for.

It's the culmination of a tendency that didn't begin this year, or last, or even this century. I remember a sublime Red House Painters solo performance from the mid-90s, spoiled by one voice whose owner honked rapturously throughout at foghorn volume to a companion about how great it was. And it was. Or would have been, but for him. The voice was unmistakably American, which allowed one to put the incident down, in rather sneering fashion, as a one-off, an act of conforming to stereotype. Not so. The offender's nationality was irrelevant. He was a nasally-inflected harbinger, a cloud of irritation no larger than a man's hand. You can't pin this one on North American Scum. We, the gig-going public of this purportedly but mythically reserved and polite nation, have fouled our own nest.

2013, though, has been the year in which - at least in my observation - gig-talking finally became the norm. I thought the jig was up a couple of years back when I went to see Paul Simon at the London Roundhouse and a large proportion of the crowd in the upstairs seats around me nattered loudly through, yep, 'The Sound Of Silence'. As symbolic moments go, that was a doozy. But in that same year, it was still possible to go along to Josh T Pearson at the Brighton Pavilion, an old-fashioned, pack-'em-in do with a standing audience, and to hear him make his appeal to the crowd to "not be that guy" who yammers through his starkly beautiful songs (my assessment, not his), and to find it observed.

This year, outside of what I'd call exceptional venues - the Southbank Centre and suchlike, where respect for The Artist is part of the package - I have attended very few shows where the quiet bits haven't been fatally marred by or vanished entirely beneath the all-encompassing clamour. I encountered Goldfrapp's first airing of their atmospheric, low-key new songs through the incessant braying of a clutch of half-cut hoorays. ("Yah, Alison's great!" How would you know? You're not listening.) I tried and failed to thrill to the lambent delicacy of Laura Mvula while a woman with a voice like amplified catgut and gristle gave a friend (or perhaps a luckless chance acquaintance) a full minute-by-minute roundup of her life story up to that moment. Most recently, I saw Boy George acidly remark, after what would otherwise have been an exquisite reading of 'Victims', "I'm thinking of re-recording that with loads of mumbling on top."

The temptation is to dismiss this, grumpily, as a simple collapse in manners. Not to say that everybody has become ruder; just that the proportion of rude people at any given show has risen to the point where it blights everybody else's night. I've succumbed to that temptation often enough. But when I consider it more carefully, I wonder if that's too crude an explanation. Is it mere bad manners, or a change in the prevailing culture to which I need to adapt? Is it their problem, or is it mine?

By gig-talkers, I should be clear, I don't mean anybody who talks at gigs. We all do that. I mean people who talk loudly, continually and without regard to either the pitch of the event, the sound coming from the stage, or the wishes of their fellow gig-goers. I've considered the possibility that, rather than the habit being much more prevalent, I have become more sensitive to it. I don't think so, though. If anything, I've become more tolerant of others' foibles over the years.

Gigs were never, as a rule, quiet or reverential affairs. You wouldn't want them to be. But not so long ago, a gig - a good one, at any rate - wasn't just something you went to see. It was something you went to be a part of. The best shows are those where act and crowd are bonded, not in communion, exactly - it's not a religious ritual, although it may occasionally feel like it - but in common purpose. Which means the noise of the crowd, its direction, its collective intention and expression, is as much part of the show as anything happening on stage. The two things respond to one another, feed off one another, rise and fall in tandem. Such shows are now rare indeed, and probably most often encountered with acts tied closely to a particular sub-culture, where the cohesive sense of shared experience remains strong.

Elsewhere, Jarvis Cocker's memorable observation that music is "not as central, it's more like a scented candle" seems ever more pertinent. Gigs always were social affairs, but for many, the emphasis has changed. They don't go to see the band with their friends. They go to see their friends, and the band is a thing that's happening - no more than hired entertainment, a form of cabaret, and they are under no obligation to give it their attention. That being the case, why wouldn't you talk through it? Especially through the quiet bits - that's when you can actually hear. You've paid your money, you want your fun, and if that's your idea of it, that's what you'll do.

One reason you wouldn't, I suppose, is consideration of what others have come for. But this brings us to other, broader cultural issues: those of public space, and communality. The division between public and private space barely exists any more. I suggest - and it can only be a hypothesis, I know of no data to support it - that the mobile phone is chiefly responsible for this. When the internet was still a minority interest, the mobile was already prevalent. Unlike earlier devices such as the Walkman, which allowed one to seal oneself off into one's own private world while physically within public space, the mobile permitted, all but demanded, that one bring into public space that private world, and expose it. It's an effect that would later be replicated and expanded by social media. George Orwell's vision in 1984, of transmitting-receiving machines which would negate our privacy by making audible and visible to others our every intimate action, was essentially correct; his error was in assuming such machines would need to be imposed upon us, rather than that we would eagerly adopt them.

Thus public space is now space wherein one feels free to behave as if in private. Which means feeling no concern for what others can see and hear. Visit your local library, if you still have one, and you'll notice the same thing. Silence is as obsolete as the vanished signs demanding it.

Alongside, and related to, the breaking up of the distinction between public and private is the dissolution of communality. Here, the internet and other media seem the likeliest causes. That said, even before everything there is or ever has been could be seen or heard online, it was often remarked how the proliferation of television channels meant the end of regular shared national experience. The internet, with its promise of connecting us all and introducing us to endless novelty and invention, has instead permitted us to fragment into groups unhindered by geography, and close ourselves off from all that does not directly interest us. New things that might once have been brought to us by mass media need trouble us no longer. We encounter only what those we deem like us choose for us to encounter. Opinions and tastes which do not accord with our own exist only to be held up for ridicule or vilification, when we recognise they exist at all.

With social media comes the unwitting assumption that if we have a thought, any thought, it is essential to express it. With perpetual roaming connectivity comes the feeling that it is intolerable not to do so the instant we have it. It's a recipe for solipsism: I must never be suffered to think anything I do not straight away say. In some cases, among those most suggestible or self-entitled, it's liable to tip over into narcissism. Why not believe the world is arranged around you, when so far as you can tell, the world is doing its damnedest to make you believe exactly that? You are special. You must be indulged. What you want is what matters. What interests you is all that is of interest. Facebook's own adverts promote the clever, hip young person's furtive escape from the boring Olds at a social gathering via a phone held under the table. The rest of the world no longer matters. The world is what you gather about yourself.

We habitually distinguish between online and "real life", but this separation is chimaerical. A life is made up of what it is made up of. So it is not far-fetched to draw a link between such attitudes, and a default willingness to treat a concert as if both the band and the rest of the audience are merely the scenery and soundtrack for your own night out. They have no substantive existence of their own as artists you should give the courtesy of a hearing, or people whose own idea of enjoyment you should afford any concern.

(Anyone bristling at the use of the universal "we", above: I choose it deliberately. This isn't one of those, "Why we've all fallen in/out of love with cupcakes" things. This is something I posit is occurring widely wherever there is broadband, and I do not exclude myself from it.)

What evidence do I have for this? Well, here, there is research to turn to, which suggests the internet is rewiring our brains, and that social media is in truth making us less social and more alienated. Neither of these backs up my specific hypothesis, which is deductive at best and speculative at worst. They do, however, offer a basis on which to say my hypothesis is plausible: the internet is demonstrably making us think differently, feel differently and behave differently, even when we're not on it. Whether it is doing so in the ways I suggest, I haven't the resources or qualifications to show. I have only anecdotal observation, based on an urge to take a flamethrower to anything between a seventh and a fifth of the audience at most of the gigs I attend. Which I grant is hardly a double-blind study.

Still, there it is. I know I'm far from alone in identifying and deploring the trend. All of us who do might just be old, cantankerous and averse to change. But my observation also suggests that this is not a generational phenomenon. Gig-talking appears to span age groups, races, classes and the sexes. It is a truly equal-opportunity aggravation.

I submit that quiet music has become a casualty of a change taking place somewhere else. Collateral damage. An innocent bystander. Which is more than can be said for those who talk through it. But it's not going back to the way it was, so we might as well accept that Eurythmics video as a template for the moment in the show when the stage lights dim and the volume dips. From now on, that'll be the moment when you learn all about what the man behind you thinks of the people at work, while he prevents the people at work in front of you from doing their job.

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JK
Dec 12, 2013 12:01pm

what always amazes me is how people look really fucking annoyed if you ask them to be quiet. i've stopped doing it now and tend to just move somewhere else.

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Emma
Dec 12, 2013 12:01pm

I noticed all your examples are in London - I went to the aptly named "sssh" festival of quiet music in the capital and the crowd was extremely loud. Same festival in Bristol was pin-drop quiet.

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Emma
Dec 12, 2013 12:01pm

I noticed all your examples are in London - I went to the aptly named "sssh" festival of quiet music in the capital and the crowd was extremely loud. Same festival in Bristol was pin-drop quiet.

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Chris
Dec 12, 2013 12:16pm

Excellent article, which mirrors my thoughts exactly. I too believe the mobile phone is mainly to blame. Unfortunately most people don't appear to realise how enthralled and beholden to this nefarious device they have become. The way it offers a continuous "15 minutes of fame" for people who love the sound of their own voice is perhaps on clue as to the sly way it works.

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Andy Parsons
Dec 12, 2013 12:21pm

The last two ATP's had ridiculous levels of talking through acts like Low, Slint, Godspeed and Winged Victory. There was a drunken Danish guy who I nearly lynched during Slint. The worst time for this at an ATP was during the Dirty Three one where the bar staff insisted on smashing bottles and shouting all the way through Joanna Newsome.

My other favourite examples where the two idiots off their faces on coke at PJ Harvey with John Parish at the Bristol Anson rooms who looked like their septums had dropped out when I told them to shut up and the bunch of insufferable Essex cunts who shouted, heckled and agressively tried to chat up female gig-goers during a PJ Harvey show at the Troxy. After asking them to shut up, they gathered round me and proceeded to bray in my ears at the end of every song until I went to the loo to punch a wall.

GAH!

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Lee R F
Dec 12, 2013 12:28pm

I've had two experiences recently with 'chatters' at gigs which have, although seeing the same band (Mogwai), left me feeling very much torn on this issue.
The first was a performance of Zidane in Manchester where I very nearly ended up fighting a bloke (and his partner?) who were nattering away. I had spent the first three songs of the set merely bristling as I tried to tune out their noise and just focus on the show. Then, at the end of a song, I turned round and asked if they wouldn't mind not talking all the time. They simply stared at me, made a sort of scoff gesture and proceeded to chat through the next song. I turned round again and said, 'would you mind shutting the fuck up, please'. They said, 'why should we?'. I replied, 'I've spent good money on these tickets, I am in a numbered seat and therefore cannot move away and you are ruining it for me'. They made that scoff gesture again.
Now at this point I was pretty riled and I think I threatened to break their legs or something, anyway, they quietened down a bit and I heeded my wife's advice to calm down.
I was certainly pleased that I'd said something and I enjoyed the rest of the show watching Zidane getting slowly wound up until he gets sent off late in the game when he's had enough.
The last time I saw Mogwai in Cambridge the crowd were a lot more reverential and even though there was a couple next to me having a bit of a chat they weren't talking 'over' the music and I heard them as one might hear surface noise on a record, in the end it actually added something. It helped that they were actually talking about the songs they were hearing and not just any old crap. Also, I had the knowledge that I could just move away if it got annoying.
At gigs where 30-40% of people are yakking! I guess there's nothing anyone can do, except the flamethrower or the artist appeals for silence; both of which seem unobtainable.

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MellySingsDoom
Dec 12, 2013 12:36pm

This has reminded me of seeing Evan Parker once at the Vortex (when it was on Stoke Newington Church Street), and there was a group of 5-6 people sitting near the front, who talked constantly and quite loudly throughout his set. I recall this wound a fair few people up, and Parker himself commented on their nattering before the encore.

Mind you, I've been guilty of this myself once - I was asked to pipe down by someone at Cafe Oto duirng a Richard Youngs set. Not one of my proudest moments, that.

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FBC!
Dec 12, 2013 12:38pm

It's not limited to London, I've seen that in Brussels and Los Angeles as well. I don't have any anecdote to share, and I don't know if it's only mobile phones which are to blame but a general lack of manners and, I don't know, complete disregard for other people.

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mrg
Dec 12, 2013 12:41pm

Years ago, during Sigur Ros supporting Godspeed on the Southbank (a seated gig), a young guy spent the whole of SR's set blathering away to his mate at full voice. This was my first exposure to SR, and I found them quite magical at the time (not so much now), but the experience was being severely sullied by this fella.
I turned to him, intending to ask politely that he not blab on, but between my mind conceiving the words and my mouth saying them, they'd turned into a sincere-but-feral snarled instruction to SHUT THE FUCK UP. He and I were both genuinely startled by this. He did indeed fall silent for the remainder of the evening. I wouldn't advise this, as such behaviour may well lead to unwanted fisticuffs. But what struck me was his surprise... he hadn't given a single thought to the fact that people sitting nearby may be less than thrilled by his interminable unhushed monologue about his gap year or whatever.

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ghm
Dec 12, 2013 12:52pm

In reply to FBC!:

It's widespread. I first noticed it at a Steve Earle gig in 2009 (Inverness). It was so bad he threatened to walk off.
More recently I was at gigs by The Tallest man on Earth (Edinburgh) and How to Dress Well (Glasgow) that were ruined for me by the noisy clowns in the audience.

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Hooligan
Dec 12, 2013 12:57pm

I’ve pretty much stopped going to gigs because of punters talking and filming. In the past I’ve (politely) asked people to be quiet or desist from waving their mobile in front of my face but last year it became obvious to me that I was in the minority in actually wanting to hear what was going on stage so I gave up. It’s a shame but instead I now spend the money that would’ve gone on gig tickets on vinyl and I can now listen to music without someone braying in my ear.

Interestingly though I recently dug out a box of live tapes that I accrued through the 80s, mainly of gigs I’d been to. My memory is of being totally immersed in the shows and the audience being as one with the band in the exchange of energy from stage to crowd. I don’t remember having to ask anyone to be quiet or being asked to be quiet myself at the time. I just went to the gig, had a pint or two and got down the front. Playing these tapes backs though I was stunned at the amount of audience conversation that’s on them – for example during a marathon Cure show from Wembley one couple kept up a conversation for the whole three hours the band were on stage. I don’t know why I didn’t notice it back then, maybe I was much more engaged with the music. Taking David’s point that private behaviours are now acted out in public, perhaps it’s just a case of how I choose to behave at home doesn’t chime with the majority of gig-goers these days. I don’t know. All I do know is that something I used to enjoy I no longer find myself able to but I’m prepared to consider that may have as much to do with me as anyone else.

Oh, and the Eurythmics’ Savage is indeed a masterpiece.

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Andy Parsons
Dec 12, 2013 1:26pm

In reply to Lee R F:

At the Mogwai Manchester Zidane gig I was at there wasn't too much of a problem with talking where I was sat - but there was certainly a hubbub of noise during the show. The film and sit down performance of that show made it a bit different to a normal mogwai gig - though often it's hard to find a spot where people aren't talking through the quiet bits.

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Dec 12, 2013 1:44pm

I don't go to shows any more unless I really love the artist because of the shitbirds who think the mundane details of their day are more interesting and important than the person on the stage.

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Chris
Dec 12, 2013 1:52pm

In reply to :

This brings to mind a delicate performance by Laura Gibson at The Windmill Brixton I attended a few years back. She and the rest of the band looked visibly embarassed and disconcerted by some annoying prat half way back who just would not shut up with the boring details of her boring life. Grrrr.
The article is correct, quiet music has no chance these days.

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breakcore danny
Dec 12, 2013 1:57pm

stop going to watch boring, lame music grandads. go see good loud band like sum 41 or merzbow.

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john doran
Dec 12, 2013 2:07pm

i have noise problem at gigs where i need to guff all the time and everyone gets mad nd say jon stop doing bad guff noise when low is foing christmas song we cam e all a long way and want to enjoy this band and be with christmas friend like at home when we have records on but oince i thought i ewqs doing a guff when i saw curiosity lkillref the cat but i did not do a guff a bear came out of my butt it was brown and hairy and very grizzly because he had been living in my butt and it was the bear from timoth treadwll and the bear went and killed everyone in the gig and i ran away and now when i go to gigs i make sure my guffs are guffs and not bears so it never happens ever again

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Hooligan
Dec 12, 2013 2:12pm

In reply to Andy Parsons:

That Peej gig at The Troxy was notable for the large number of fuckwits in attendance - I guess that's what comes of having an album that, for want of a better phrase, crosses over. And playing a venue that has mobile hotdog salespeople.

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ChipRock
Dec 12, 2013 2:16pm

Oh man - don't get me started! To be fair I am getting on a bit now (doddering into my late thirties) but I just really get put off going to gigs due to the people talking. What is the point of going to a show (often expensive ones too!) to spend the time chatting to your mates about what you had for dinner?
The worst for me was seeing PJ Harvey doing a low key show in Portsmouth. I was so excited to see her perform in such a small venue, and this was at the tail end of the White Chalk era so lots of slow delicate beautiful music being performed. You wouldn't think it though with so many in attendance chattering away like they were just out for a pint at their local and not seeing one of the UKs finest contemporary artists perform in a very rare intimate gig. It was quite embarrassing and I can't imagine she would bother returning.
My first real gig rage was when seeing Mogwai at Hyde Park. I sort of understand that it was as support (to The Cure) and on a nice sunny day at an open air mini festival, but this young lad in question insisted on chattering away for the whole time about how much he loved Mogwai and how 'this song is my favourite' and so on. So why not actually listen to them then? I hushed once only to be ignored. Second time I told him firmly to shut the fuck up which stunned him into silence for about 5 minutes before he carried in slightly more hushed tones.
I really don't want to sound like a grumpy old git, but it really does stun me that people would make the effort to go out, travel even, spend a fair bit of money and queue and everything only to pay little or no attention to the artist on stage. Sure, have a good time, express yourself, whatever, just leave the general chat to the many hours you have in-between shows.

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Cat Vincent
Dec 12, 2013 2:31pm

It's not even that people talk - they talk louder so they can be heard over the act.

Worst example this year: two blokes talking over The Haxan Cloak's blisteringly loud set in Leeds. Not just a matter of 'why' but also 'HOW?'!

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Dec 12, 2013 2:39pm

In reply to Cat Vincent:

Had a similar experience with Sunno))) at Koko last year. A couple were literally screaming at each other to be heard over the music. They couldn't keep it up for long but the fact they even tried one can only assume great knowledge and insight were being shared.

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Andy
Dec 12, 2013 2:45pm

I realise this method isn't for those who don't want to risk a confrontation, but I tend to walk over, lean in very close to the talker's ear and whisper - so only he can hear it - that if he doesn't stop talking, I will... whatever comes to mind... I always threaten physical violence. It's never failed me yet and I've never had to hit anyone. For groups, all you can do is front the lot of them or aye, walk away. I wouldn't threaten physical violence upon a woman of course. But I still use the whispering technique.

This problem can be almost fixed though, at small venues at least, if the owners and managers decide to instil an atmosphere of respect as an overarching principal, and the staff understand why they're doing it and help to - politely - enforce it.

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The Grim Reaper
Dec 12, 2013 3:30pm

This is why I passed on seeing Mazzy Star this time around.

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David Cartlidge
Dec 12, 2013 3:32pm

Thank you for writing this article. I don't ( and never did) think that gigs should be conducted in hushed and reverent tones. However, sometimes a bit of thought for others might be nice. I tried watching Carthy and Swarbrick with someone pontificating about folk music right behind me. He was drowning out the music until I let him know how I feel. A similar thing happened at a Gillian Welch concert. This is becoming increasingly common at a variety of gigs
I think the idea about our brains getting rewired is interesting. However, I'm not convinced . I tend to think that a lot of people now have a different relationship with live music. Artists are now getting "ticked off " ( bit like trainspotting) and are the secondary feature in the evening out with their friends.
However , for me quality live music is so much more than that. It's an event , it's something that uplifts and enhances me, and it can sometimes be a bit of magic . I'm knocking on a bit so I would say that.

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Stewart Smith
Dec 12, 2013 3:44pm

In reply to David Cartlidge:

Good article, and a problem I've noticed at bigger shows. At Neil Young and Crazy Horse in Glasgow this year, there were some young lads in front of us loudly yakking all the way through the first few songs, ignoring the frequent dirty looks we gave them. When Neil did one they knew they were all like 'yass, quality man, fuckin' classic, yass', and, in a particularly insightful observation 'B minor man, fuckin class'. We eventually lost our rag and told to them politely but firmly to be quiet, which they took great exception to, as if we were being outrageous. 'It's a fuckin' rock 'n roll gig man'. 'Er yes, so I want to hear the rock 'n roll, not you!' People around us gave the side-eye, not wanting to get involved. Fortunately it didn't come to fisticuffs and they buggered off in the huff. I'm not a fan of hushed reverence at gigs - after all, you want a good atmosphere in the crowd, with everyone getting off on the energy of the music - but the idea that we were being un-rock 'n roll by telling some wee fannies with Paul Weller haircuts to put a sock in it is something new to me.

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caonai
Dec 12, 2013 3:50pm

A reasonable, reflective and - as far as I can measure from my experience - accurate article. My money is on mobile phones as a major cause of this too - maybe more than the Internet, although they are, at least in the case of smartphones - inextricably linked. I hope any sociologists reading might consider trying to do some research into those aspects Mr. Bennun obviously couldn't.
One other thing that I've noted here is the amount of people who seem to need to apologize for having this view (and I'm not having a go at them, I'd be the same), usually for fear of being considered an old fogey… Don't, it's OK and hardly a controversial opinion to hold. Is this disconnect in terms of what is socially appropriate (at a gig in this instance) really a generational thing? If so, I think this is worrying, because (for want of a better word) 'middle-aged' people are far more open-minded and objective (or at least try to be) than the old fogeys of yore. Where it will end?I can't help thinking of the E.M. Forster short story 'The Machine Stops' in this context.
And as an admirer of Low and the maker of not so loud music myself… They used to be able to summon quiet until 2 seconds after a song had finished (except for the lone Yank on the '99 live in Paris CD!), and my band weren't too bad at getting an acceptable background noise level. Perhaps this article explains why they recently played one song for 30 minutes looking pissed and why I don't play live anymore?

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caonai
Dec 12, 2013 3:54pm

In reply to Stewart Smith :

I think Mr. Bennun and most people who've posted here aren't wanting reverential silence, but as has been noted, many gig goers are punters for whom the music is just a live jukebox, a background noise, as music is so often consumed nowadays. I guess sites like TQ attract music lovers, whose whole relationship to music is different.

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Chris
Dec 12, 2013 4:00pm

Having had a further think, I decided that as well as mobile phone culture being a probable cause, one can look at the role that certain drugs play in their ability to make people talk non-stop shit.
I also concluded that the blurring of contexts between a club night and an actual gig featuring people playing live probably has a lot to do with it as well.

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Scott
Dec 12, 2013 4:02pm

Hate talking at bigger gigs that people have paid proper money to see, but there's nothing worse than acts at a tiny gig with like, seven largely unknown acts on the bill getting shitty if there's talking.

There's an element of earning the audience's respect if you're unknown.

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Stewart Smith
Dec 12, 2013 4:09pm

In reply to caonai:

Sure, didn't mean to suggest the article was calling for hushed reverence, just clarifying my own feelings.

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Hooligan
Dec 12, 2013 4:09pm

In reply to Andy:

The one London venue that had an enforced 'no talking when the band is on' policy was Kilburn's excellent Luminaire, which closed nearly three years ago.

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Rein Schommer
Dec 12, 2013 4:18pm

An excellent article and a subject that has been bristling myself (and others) for some time now. It's very difficult to raise this without sounding like some old curmudgeon but it's definitely a case of the band and the place. If I go to see a loud rock/punk band, it never seems too much of an issue.
It's funny that Mogwai are mentioned as I've had similar experiences with those gigs as well. The gig they played at Somerset House in the capital (2007?) seemed to be a mix of fans and 'musical tourists' (those just there because it was somewhere to go that evening) and the amount of chatter was overwhelming. I've seen Mogwai many times and this was by far the worst, especially compared to the last time I saw them at Leeds a couple of years ago where you could hear a pin drop. I'm not saying it is London crowds either, the gig at the Albert Hall was well respected by the crowd with very little chatter.
Maybe it's become acceptable at festivals that there's going to be chatter as not everyone is there to see every band and because there are so many festivals now, it seems to have filtered into gigs as well.
Chatter and smartphones at gigs - maybe it's just the evolution of the scene?

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Astra Chan
Dec 12, 2013 4:36pm

From my experience of both playing and attending gigs all over he place this is much more noticeable in London than elsewhere. My theory is that in London friends are spread out so wide that when they meet up at a gig they are more interested in catching up than listening. It's pretty rare for people to talk at the gigs I go to in Brighton... though they are on the more esoteric end of the scale to be fair, and you wouldn't want to piss of the 6 other people in town who like this kind of thing.

I remember the Jazz Cafe in Camden used to have STFU in bold letters above the stage - do they still have that?

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AA
Dec 12, 2013 4:56pm

Cowboy Junkies, a quiet band if ever there were one, refer to the yakkers in the audience as 'geese' - always honking on during the shows. Low was spoiled at the Barbican this year by some bloke taking photos with an old manual camera, which emitted loud 'clicks' during the quiet songs, and I had to leave a Lambchop show at the South Bank in resignation because of people just wandering around, going to the loo, popping to the bar, chatting to their mates. Seriously, just sit down and listen for an hour; it's not that hard.
It's not just at gigs that noise and general yakking takes place; the cinema is pretty much a no-go area now for similar reasons. This isn't just me, or 'us' to paraphrase David, being overly precious; but to even mount that kind of defence when we simply want to listen to the music we've paid to hear seems a pretty sad indictment.
The now-defunct Luminaire in north London had the right idea, and I know artists who played their appreciated it; painted on the walls were instructions such as "no one paid to listen to you talking to your pals. If you want to talk to your pals when the bands are on, please leave the venue." These 'rules' were enforced, by the venue staff and by the gig-goers too. If only such a thing were more widespread.

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aaron.
Dec 12, 2013 5:03pm

Ah, a 'Wreath Lecture' that lives up to its name. A considered piece, hugely agreeable. Personally I've always seen (perhaps a little hastily) the phenomenon of people talking at musical performances as a distinctly American thing.

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JohnP
Dec 12, 2013 5:19pm

Bruxelles is as bad as London for this, the last 4/5 gigs I've been to have all involved some kind of confrontation with some hopelessly solipsistic twat braying away loudly at every opportunity.

One observation of mine is that when it's a group of brayers in action, you can bet the farm that come 'the hit' they'll be the ones aggressively pushing their way through from the bar to get closer and then dancing/singing in a really obnoxiously 'look at us being fans and having so much fucking fun!' manner.

Too many gigs have been wasted feverishly dreaming of gutting these people like fish.

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tormato
Dec 12, 2013 5:26pm

im a true old fogey at 48 and have seen flipper face to face on a low stage in front of an audience of about a half dozen. it was one of the most hate-filled and intense experiences of my life. first they intimidated us, then they enraged us, then we realized we loved them and dove off the stage repeatedly. back in those days the bands would start fights with members the audience on a regular basis to get them out of their sheeplike routine. the music was about confrontation. you wouldn't chat at a throbbing gristle gig for example for fear of gennie-P attacking you. the idea of going out was that something non-routine might happen because life is empty and pointless. maybe everybodys happier nowadays and weve got these little screens to keep us happy and safe and never alone. thing is when the battery is dead you are dead and you are alone. maybe its the cellphones fault, or worse the so-called smartphone. but its probably just that most people are swine.

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Andy Inglis
Dec 12, 2013 5:48pm

In reply to Hooligan:

Aye, went there a few times. Still had to shush people but for the most part everyone knew the venue's feelings before or as they arrived

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Mandela
Dec 12, 2013 5:55pm

Just to break with the official Quietus line here... I think a band can earn audience respect and silence/attention. If it's a bad gig, talking and distraction is a natural reaction. We live in a culture that demands respect, irrespective of the quality of the event or entertainment. But the audience are the ones to decide this, and no-one else.

I don't think these concerts are in any sense comparable to their classical counterparts, where silence is the norm. You don't go to Covent Garden and expect to hang around for hours before the band arrive. So the culture of socialisation is in operation already, before the band begins.

If the band doesn't like it (thinking of Brett Anderson's outburst at a very recent Suede gig in Manchester, mid-song... it's somewhere on YouTube), they ought to go ahead and book into a more upmarket venue.

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Andy Inglis
Dec 12, 2013 6:15pm

In reply to Mandela:

This is about people paying money to listen to the band they've come to see. The only thing a band learns by people talking over them is that the room has some right rude fuckers in audience. Stand there in silence when the band's on or fuck off down the pub. Those are the only options I want to see on table.

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MB
Dec 12, 2013 6:41pm

In reply to Mandela:

The quality of a gig, or whether a band has earned the respect of the audience, isn't decided by one or two (or twenty, thirty, etc) people though. They don't get to make the decision on behalf of everyone else that nobody wants to listen to the band. If you don't think they're worthy of respect or that it's a bad gig then leave or go out to the bar if possible. Don't be so arrogant to assume that because you've decided it's shit then nobody else should be allowed to listen to it.

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RJC
Dec 12, 2013 7:35pm

This problem has been building for about a decade or so, if my fairly shoddy memory is anything to go by. From experience it tends to be a London problem, although Manchester has become such a hive of bellends these past five or six years that it seems to have crept up North too.

It's a big problem in Cinemas too. People just chatting and arsing about on their phones while the film is on. How can they possibly be expected to stay off Facebook for a whole two hours!?

In recent months both Neutral Milk Hotel and Savages and had a 'No Photography/No Videos/No Smart Phones' rule at their gigs and as far as I'm aware these are being adhered to. The lack of shitty phone footage on YouTube of the recent Neutral Milk shows is quite refreshing.

In summary then, I dunno. I tend to politely but firmly tell people to shut up, but then that can put you on edge a bit as you don't know whether they're going to act all tuff and square up to you in the toilets. Doesn't tend to happen though. The fuckers.

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Marcus
Dec 12, 2013 8:37pm

Talking at gigs is a constant annoyance to me, to the point where I will avoid certain venues and music nights I know to be noisy. This may be why SOFAR and house gigs seem to be more common. Every SOFAR I've been to has had a strict no talking policy, and anybody being disrespectful at my house gigs will get shown the door.

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Ben Seigel
Dec 12, 2013 8:38pm

Ironically, these yakkers may drive me to more expensive and upscale performances, like jazz and classical. People who pay a lot of $ to see a show and dress nicely to attend seem to be more respectful of the music.

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Ben Seigel
Dec 12, 2013 8:38pm

Ironically, these yakkers may drive me to more expensive and upscale performances, like jazz and classical. People who pay a lot of $ to see a show and dress nicely to attend seem to be more respectful of the music.

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Ben Seigel
Dec 12, 2013 8:38pm

Ironically, these yakkers may drive me to more expensive and upscale performances, like jazz and classical. People who pay a lot of $ to see a show and dress nicely to attend seem to be more respectful of the music.

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Chris
Dec 12, 2013 9:45pm

In reply to Mandela:

Absolute cobblers mate, and you know it.

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Nicola Lambert
Dec 13, 2013 12:42am

Ohhhh, thank you for this. I was beginning to think i should appear on "Grumpy Old Women". This is such a maddening phenomenon. I have taken my life in my hands calling people out on this at various gigs and various locations: Fleet Foxes at the Roundhouse, Teitur at the ICA, Turin Brakes at Shepherd's Bush Empire and Christy Moore supporting Bob Dylan in Finsbury Park (that really was risky) to name but a few. Why bother paying for a ticket to talk through the whole thing?

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Nicola Lambert
Dec 13, 2013 12:42am

Ohhhh, thank you for this. I was beginning to think i should appear on "Grumpy Old Women". This is such a maddening phenomenon. I have taken my life in my hands calling people out on this at various gigs and various locations: Fleet Foxes at the Roundhouse, Teitur at the ICA, Turin Brakes at Shepherd's Bush Empire and Christy Moore supporting Bob Dylan in Finsbury Park (that really was risky) to name but a few. Why bother paying for a ticket to talk through the whole thing?

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Christopher Kueny
Dec 13, 2013 4:58am

Great article. I have to think about the internet/social media hypothesis, but certainly concert jabberers are awful here in the US as well. I would refrain from standing immediately in front of the stage at standing shows since I'm 6 feet tall and normally try to avoid blocking the views of shorter people, but now it's the only way to avoid having my view blocked by cell phones and to have the music loud enough to drown out those people....

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N
Dec 13, 2013 8:05am

Great article. Can I suggest that the next Wreath Lecture be on the similarly related scourge of obscenely tall people selfishly pushing their way to the front of stage and blocking the view of every punter standing behind them?

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N
Dec 13, 2013 8:16am

In reply to Christopher Kueny:

Ha! wrote my comment before I saw yours - but glad to see you're one of the considerate ones :-)

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James
Dec 13, 2013 9:07am

This phenomenon is clearly attached to wider cultural behaviour, as since moving to Japan a couple of years ago and going to a few gigs, it's been impossible not to be impressed with the reverence and respect afforded to performers. I've seen Swans, J.G. Thirwell, Nils Frahn, Atoms for Peace, and Kraftwerk, and at all but the latter there was no talking, and photo taking was done discreetly (there seems to be some protocol that it's okay to take a photo at the start of the gig, but then you put your phone away).

Kraftwerk demonstrated the shaming mechanism of a collective culture. An American couple near the stage were yabbering away to each other from the moment they arrived, and didn't let up for a minute whilst the gig was in progress. As this was in Japan, nobody was going to say anything, but a curious reaction took place. Gradually, the audience began to move away from them - spoken English in Japan (particularly when by Americans) is extremely noticeable - until by about a third of the way through the gig, the couple had been effectively shunned, and stood with a couple of rows separation between them and everyone else. It took a little while for this to register, as they were both so involved in their vital conversation whilst the pioneers of electronic music were performing a few feet away, in what was probably the only time most in the audience would have a chance to see them, but eventually the girl looked around and saw the faces of the audience standing off them. This was obviously quickly relayed, as the guy had a look too. This shut them up for a full couple of tunes, but then they were soon back at it.

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Jeffrey
Dec 13, 2013 9:27am

If you think gigs are bad for audience noise, you should try going to football matches.

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Hardy
Dec 13, 2013 11:08am

I first really noticed this problem at a Mogwai gig - what is it about their music that makes people want to chat? One guy yakked loudly through it - quite obviously bored by them. Tbh, so was I, and I've never bothered with Mogwai since, but I didn't feel that my personal lack of enjoyment meant I could ruin it for everyone else. Sadly, this article also managed to dredge up the time I went to see Codeine years ago - if ever there was the dictionary definition of quiet music, their's was - and the one drunken tosser who spent the final part of the gig talking over the band trying to impress his girlfriend. Until now, my memory had edited out his braying, but once again I can hear him, as if it was yesterday, screaming at the band to "tell us about your ghosts" as they tried to play Broken-Hearted Wine.
It's not just gigs, though, nowadays it's any public space where people are required to focus or at least concentrate for longer than five minutes. I went to see The Long Walk to Freedom this week, and a party of middle-aged women blethered throughout the whole damn thing - okay, it's not the most exciting film, but they started talking during the opening scenes.
I think there's been a general loss of a sense of decorum that's come through with a burgeoning sense of self-entitlement. It's like Twitter: I have something to say and I am going to express myself now, whether or not anyone wants to hear it.

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Chris
Dec 13, 2013 11:38am

In reply to Hardy:

"where people are required to focus or at least concentrate for longer than five minutes"
"It's like Twitter: I have something to say and I am going to express myself now, whether or not anyone wants to hear it"

I think you have it right there: a craving for attention and a quick, regular hit of superfluous information. I'd go so far as to say there are parallels with addiction.

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Bornin69
Dec 13, 2013 11:43am

In reply to N:

I worry about this at gigs, as I'm a fair bit taller than average, but what are you supposed to do if the person you're with is 5'3''?

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Charlie Frame
Dec 13, 2013 12:04pm

What a fantastic article. I would also mention that the internet has changed our attitude to music in that it's now seen as a commodity, like water from a tap that can be turned on and off at will. The idea of music as something sacred, something to be savored when around and striven for when it's not, just doesn't occur to people any more.

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Damian
Dec 13, 2013 4:00pm

"By gig-talkers, I should be clear, I don't mean anybody who talks at gigs. We all do that. I mean people who talk loudly, continually and without regard to either the pitch of the event, the sound coming from the stage, or the wishes of their fellow gig-goers."

Perfectly summed up in one short paragraph. Well done. I would disagree that 2013 was the year it took hold though, it's been the case for quite a while. It's a uniquely modern phenomenon though - the Fear Of Missing Out combined with "We're There, That's Enough, Right?"

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Shawn
Dec 13, 2013 5:23pm

In reply to The Grim Reaper:

Mazzy Star for me was an isolated experience of audience kicking the ass of whoever spoke too loud. There were strict no phone rules, and the moment someone made too much noise, you heard the crowd hushing them. As a result, the embarassment this causes means it only happened twice, and the rest of the set was beautiful and quiet. I live in Montreal and have been reading up on Mazzy Star's tour - I have heard it wasnt the same everywhere, whereas Hope Sandoval actually walked off near the end of the set at a certain point because of noise level.

If we look at going to the cinemas, there is always a warning to be quiet/turn off phones before the movie - this has actually helped, compared to when they werent doing it. Because then if someone asks you to be quiet, dude, youve heard the same announcement as everyone. (Ironically, popcorn will always be the most popular food consumed in cinemas. Turn off your phones and start chewing really loudly!)

I digress.

I would hope, ideally, one day, that announcements be made prior to the show in the same way, to keep quiet out of respect for the artist. The same announcement for everyone would make it easier to get people who speak too loud to stick out like a sore thumb, I would hope.

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justhipper
Dec 13, 2013 9:09pm

The incessant talking at gigs has become nearly unbearable. Never mind having REM and Radiohead gigs ruined, and forget being screamed at for asking a couple to stop talking through 'Funeral' at a Band of Horses gig, and the women who called me 'unhinged' and 'in need of therapy' for suggesting it was rude to jabber loudly through Death Cab gig. My all time mist idiotic gig talking moment was at a Brakes gig in Manchester. After the band played 'Hi How Are You?' Twice (refrain 'Won't you shut the fuck up I'm just trying to watch the band' in case you aren't familiar), the 2 ladies stood in front of me proceeded to talk loudly thru a slow song. At the end one noticed a guy in a shirt with said refrain printed on the back. She turned to her friend and said, 'I love that song. I hate it when people do that.'

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austy
Dec 14, 2013 5:09am

easy fix, stop serving alcohol.. start serving cannabis

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Rachel Sheils
Dec 14, 2013 3:22pm

Kurt Vile @ Brudenell in Leeds last night - solo acoustic. Shushers stilled the donkeys. VICTORY!

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Rachel Sheils
Dec 14, 2013 3:22pm

Kurt Vile @ Brudenell in Leeds last night - solo acoustic. Shushers stilled the donkeys. VICTORY!

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fox
Dec 14, 2013 4:07pm

As a performer of quiet music, it's a constant aggravation. Over the years I've become philosophical about it, but sometimes have gigs where a conversation (and it's usually just one individual or group) is so loud it actually distracts me, let alone the rest of the audience. Even then, I feel that commenting on it somehow makes me out to be the dick; the uptight performer. At a particularly trying one last week I just joined in and commented on the conversation, it was so loud I could hear what they were saying.

On other occasions I've asked the over the mic for the PA guy to turn it down a bit - the people over there can't hear each other talk". That usually does it.

Don't even get me started on bar staff chucking empties in the bin during a set...

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Em
Dec 14, 2013 8:30pm

A few years ago Grouper played a London venue that famously threatened physical violence on talkers-during-gigs. Crowd was very good til the final song of her encore. Somebody's phone rang, loudly. Everyone started. Then the fucker answered it and said, loudly, "I can't talk just now, I'm at a Grouper gig!"

If somebody actually paid to come hear a fairly obscure artist perform a near-inaudible set under large signs reading "Shut up - no one paid to listen to you talking to your pals", and still behaved like that, there's probably no hope for the human race.

On the other hand, as the manager of a few bands for whom this sort of thing is a constant headache, I'm quite aware that if the 20% of the idiots who talk a lot didn't buy tickets in the first place, and the remaining 80% drank half as much beer and shut up a bit more, we'd not have anything like a financially sustainable live music industry.

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Phil
Dec 15, 2013 12:10pm

Talking at gigs is like walking round an art gallery and deliberately standing in front of all the paintings so no one else can see them properly. Playing a gig should not be demoralising experience for the band or anyone who is their to experience the music. We face a depressing prospect of music no longer being a meaningful collective experience, and consigned to people's headphones on public transport.

Interestingly, one of the most respectful, enraptured audiences I've experienced was at a festival, when John Grant played at End of the Road in 2011. I believe it is still possible to have a respectful audience, but perhaps only in slightly exclusive 'there for the music' environments, or at an Andre Rieu concert.

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moonson
Dec 15, 2013 8:11pm

A related one while on the subject: sometimes i play at being a street musician. Vehemently without an amplifier as a matter of principle, BTW. Mostly at street music festivals where it's not as if people weren't expecting to find people playing on the street corner. OK it's the street, it's not ours, and after long years we're used to people paying no attention or carrying on talking on their way down the road, that's only fair and right. But we get people standing right in front of us talking *literally* louder than the sound we're making. And literally in my face. And presumably not thinking anything of it. Wanting to hang out where the music is 'cos it's cool but not relating to it being a "sound made by people".
Because, i've always thought, for them music doesn't come out of people, it comes out of loudspeakers. And probably has a voice-over talking about what's in the nearest shop. And certainly only background for something more important in the visual field or their internal monologue or...

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Peter Sahlin
Dec 18, 2013 2:29am

Great article. I've found myself attending fewer and fewer live shows in recent years, in no small part because I find it too frustrating to have to sift through noisy conversations just to hear the music. On an encouraging note, however, a couple of years ago I saw Low at a gorgeous old theater in Boston where the entire audience managed to stay rather rapturously quiet. To have chitchatted in anything but a whisper would have felt decidedly wrong; there was very definitely a sense of decorum I hadn't felt outside of a classical concert. It was a really magical night of quiet, deeply engaging music received by a quiet, deeply engaged audience. So quiet can happen in the right circumstances. Sadly, those circumstances seem far too rare these days.

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Stephen Hardman
Dec 24, 2013 8:18pm

I agree with a lot of the points raised here, and find myself becoming increasingly annoyed at gigs these days. I first noticed this at a Sparklehorse gig in Leeds about 12 years ago. Incessant murmuring from all sides! Midlake a couple of years ago in Bristol, and Everything Everything this year in Bristol were also really bad. It gets to the point that you can't move anywhere to get away from people talking. The mixed, unpredictable reaction to asking people to please be quiet also serves to ruin the experience of the gig.

I agree that gigs have just become a night out, something to do, for people who aren't necessarily interested in seeing the band or artist playing. It's the same as festivals becoming a destination for stag and hen parties, and therefore being overtaken by roaming packs of idiots. It seems sadly unstoppable.

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Simon Grant
Dec 30, 2013 9:17pm

Agree with almost everything here. And it's not just young uns who are the guilty ones. I was at a Chameleons Vox gig a few weeks ago in Bristol (there were only 100 or so people there) and two chaps in their 30/40s stood by the mixing board a chatting throughout the whole gig! Shooting them a couple of "looks" unfortunately didn't do the trick.

And don't you find that the chatters are always the ones who "whoop" loudly at the end of every song? ("whooping" at gigs is another bane of my life.....horrible).

Maybe a simple announcement from the stage before hand, asking the audience to refrain from talking might do the trick? It certainly did at a Rufus Wainwright show awhile back. Everyone to a man respected his wishes.

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Paul
Jan 3, 2014 9:56am

Ah yes, probably one of the most incredible shows almost ruined for me - Spiritualized at the Sydney Opera house. The constant yakking from the ignorant fool behind us talking about "the best asparagus breakfast in town" while she belted out above the haunting silences that weren't so silent anymore. This continue for about 20 minutes until one of our mates at the show elegantly stabbed "go to the overpriced bar downstairs, please. We don't want to hear you anymore" . Smiles from the onlookers. Huffs of disbelief from the north shore elite, and then there was just the music.

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O.D
Jan 6, 2014 3:24pm

"You've paid your money, you want your fun, and if that's your idea of it, that's what you'll do."

The trouble is I don't think a lot of the 'chatters' have actually paid to be there. I'm convinced that a lot of the culprits are in the 'industry' and therefore have probably got in on a guest list.

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Herman
Jan 7, 2014 3:25pm

I think the attitude of going to something so you can say that you've been, has superseded the idea of experiencing an artform first hand for pleasure and stimulation. Phones and the internet do their part, but don't forget the fashion industry. Do you remember when Glastonbury was full of crusties? Yeah, they were pretty annoying but at least they were there to enjoy something, and not just looking for a place to validate their recent £300 wellington boot purchase.

Unfortunately, all popular culture is slowly becoming Tumblr fodder. Faux-feminists and muscle-heads-with-Morrissey-haircuts will regurgitate images of things they refuse to take the time to understand (despite being "obsessed" with them)until they lose all meaning.

My advice is to invest in tattoo removal. The current trend for shit tattoos will pass, and you'll have got something back from them. Use the money to buy a nice record setup, and die in your own arms.

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John Davison
Jan 9, 2014 6:11pm

In reply to Simon Grant:

Hats off to the compere at The Gladstone in Southwark, he always asks the audience to refrain from talking during the performance of music on a Sunday evening and indicates that anyone wanting to chat is able to move upstairs until the gig finishes. Notices in the toilets underline this principle, but it doesn't stop the bar staff clinking glasses or topping-up the ice bucket. Sample the atmosphere for yourself:

http://www.thegladpub.com/category/activities/forthcoming-events/

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Tate
Jan 14, 2014 8:17am

Good article. I go to a lot of gigs on my own so I'm always very aware of the chatterers. I also seems to me that a lot of people don't relise that you don't need to be able to hear yourself for your friend to hear you. If you talk at a normal volume in to someone's ear, they will hear you. No need for everyone else to have to listen to it.
I also agree that there's a lot of people who go to a gig just to say they've been and have no interest in what's happening on stage. Maybe I'm just getting old....

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NHBill
Jan 15, 2014 2:19am

"You can't pin this one on North American Scum."

Ah yes.
No one does snobby bigot better than a Brit.

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David Bennun
Jan 15, 2014 10:38am

In reply to NHBill:

Heh. Very likely true. Whereas getting one's knickers in a twist through missing the provenance and entirely misconstruing the sense of a reference is a universal tendency.

Thanks, everyone else, for the considered and often illuminating comments. It's good to see I'm far from alone on this one, and the responses have given me plenty to think about in turn.

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Josh
Jan 15, 2014 5:14pm

50% boring new music
50% "me" generation

don't see softer artists in big venues.
be in a loud band if you're doing a big venue tour.

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Ferpont
Jan 18, 2014 4:01am

Yep. Some months ago, The XX came down to Buenos Aires for the first time. Me and some 4.000 people attended the gig that night. Being a very subtle sounding band that you're not able to hear live too often, I hoped there would be no unmannered yellers among the audience, but as the first song faded, this tall, top model- like blonde began to yell the story of her last 10 romances to the poor guy she was with. She didn't stop until the last song, and I went back home angry as hell, and wondering what in blazes she went to that gig for, considering that the tickets were rather high-prized. I just don't get it.

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Tony Lazarus
Jan 18, 2014 1:11pm

Blimey, I hope things aren't that bleak! Please don't give up on going to quieter gigs, we need all the shushers we can muster.

I wWent to see Laura J Martin this week, kind of dreading the talkers, and I was impressed by how quiet the audience was - I guess she's still at the stage where the audience comprises mainly afficionados though.

Talking is a big problem at gigs, and I fear you have pretty much nailed why.

My worst experience of this was at a Broken Family Band gig at the Spitz a few years ago. They began plaing "Devil In The Details" and she said to her partner "Oh I really love this song. This is my favourite song of theirs. It's really loverly, but the lyrics are really dark, you have to listen to it all the way through cos the end is really horrible, but funny as well ..." and then the song had finished and I wanted to hurt her.

Is violence always wrong?

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Tony Lazarus
Jan 18, 2014 1:19pm

In reply to Astra Chan:

Saw Wave Pictures at the Jazz Cafe before Xmas and they don't seem to have STFU above the stage but it was OK cos the audience was pretty much rapt and involved throughout, even the large contingent of French students who had come for the support band and stayed.

I think that's spot on about provincial gigs vs London btw.

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steviox
Jan 22, 2014 7:14pm

Worse is people singing along....all the way through ,word for word. If I wanted to hear karaoke covers in or out of tune, I'd pick somewhere appropriate. But I have paid to see the band!!
Volume...I think music needs to be felt ..at volume. Rave sound is no more...

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Stuart Davidson
Jan 24, 2014 2:07pm

At a Fish gig last year two guys at the front of the stage were continually talking until the big guy had a not so quiet word with them. Oh and pissed people at gigs spilling beer and throwing up. If your not there for the music stay at home or get pissed in a pub.

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Bewarethemoon
Jan 25, 2014 8:51pm

Not a new problem, I've been going to gigs for nigh on 30 years, it's always been there, I used to be young enough, fit enough, and simply there for the music enough, to just get down the front where everyone else who just wanted to be there " for the music" was, and not there just to be seen to be "cool" or "hangout" and just lose myself in the cacophony of sound.
Thesedays, there are other distractions, the constant need to be socially active on line, tweeting, FB-ing taking pictures etc.... Now in my mid 40's while not as moshpit friendly as I once was, I do a good line in scowls, glares, and such, usually I just find somewhere else to stand, but if you're stuck near some obnoxious twats I cannot contain my boiling rage, and usually ask them to poilitely refrain, it's the same reason I don't go to cinema's much thesedays either, unless it's to take my kid.
And yes the leaning over, quietly whispering, usually works for me too.
If I've bumped into someone at a gig I've not seen for a while, it's "fancy a pint" and head to the bar for a chat and drink, not stand there shouting at each other

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Nick Gold
Jan 27, 2014 10:41am

I recognise the problem, but performers can help themselves by building a rapport with the audience instead of mumbling their way through with an air of superior disdain. I've seen Ed Sheeran keep an audience of 10,000 mostly 14 -year-old girls quiet.

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Jay
Jan 29, 2014 12:09pm

Was at a GYBE gig last year. They played a 13 minute song, and the two guys in front of me talked literally through the whole song (this is no exaggeration...one was telling the other about a wedding he'd been to the previous day, and I had to listen to the whole story). When the band finished played the song, one of these two turns to the stage and goes, "Wooo! Yeah!", like it was the greatest thing he'd ever heard. But he couldn't have listened to any of it. WTF!?

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Norma Dench
Oct 13, 2014 2:53pm

As promoters of many bands Goodsoul Prmotions devised a poster used in their venue that specifically request that patrons please keep the noise down out of respect of the performers. If they wish to talk they could do so between acts or go upstairs to the pub area and do so there. If the signs seem to be ignored they have no problem, neither to I, to politely ask people to be quiet and to point out the signs on the wall. As a general rule this has proved acceptable to all around. What is the point of buying a ticket and then talking through the performance?

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Norma Dench
Oct 13, 2014 2:55pm

As promoters of many bands Goodsoul Prmotions devised a poster used in their venue that specifically request that patrons please keep the noise down out of respect of the performers. If they wish to talk they could do so between acts or go upstairs to the pub area and do so there. If the signs seem to be ignored they have no problem, neither to I, to politely ask people to be quiet and to point out the signs on the wall. As a general rule this has proved acceptable to all around. What is the point of buying a ticket and then talking through the performance?

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