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By SCOTT COX, Contributing columnist
I've been going to a lot of live shows lately, and there seems to be an upward trend in the bad behavior of concertgoers. I don't know if it's a Bakersfield-specific thing, like litter or driving in the fast lane (it's just for passing, folks), but it's bad.
And we need to fix a few things before they get further out of hand.
Scott Cox is host of "First Look with Scott Cox," which airs from 7 to 10 a.m. weekdays at bakersfield.com and KERN-AM, 1180.
When people get fed up with idiots ruining shows, they stop going, and that's not cool. We need to do a better job of supporting live acts, and we should do what we can to make the shows more enjoyable for everyone.
Just a couple of week ago, I was at the Michael McDonald/Boz Scaggs show. Sitting next to me were two women who talked to each other for literally the entire show. I mean, McDonald is up there playing his heart out, doing a super-classy intro to one of his songs, and these horribly rude women are chatting away at full volume. I must have spent a good 10 minutes just glaring at them, to no avail. The poor guy in front of them kept shushing them, but they never really let up. I would've happily hit them with a chair, but the seats were bolted down.
Distant cousin to talking during shows is singing during shows. Don't. I'm sure you have a lovely singing voice, or at least you think you do, but I just paid $28 to hear someone who isn't you, and I'd very much like to hear them sing the song. So unless your name is printed on the tickets, please don't sing. There are, of course, exceptions, like when the artist wants you to sing along. They'll let you know -- either verbally or by doing that cheesy move where they point the microphone towards the audience. So in those situations, belt it out like you own the place. Otherwise, zip it.
Maybe even worse than singing along to your favorite song is dancing along. At the Pat Benatar/Cheap Trick show, I got stuck next to a woman who really, really liked a whole bunch of Pat Benatar songs. I know she liked them because she felt the need to stand up and act out the lyrics through the medium of interpretive dance. Now dancing at concerts is perfectly acceptable. In fact, it can be pretty awesome if properly applied. But look around you. Are you the only one doing it? Have a seat.
The other major irritant at concerts is inappropriate standing. Look, when the band is playing one of their big hits, it will be obvious, and there will be a huge organic movement of people to their feet. So join right in. But failing that, those chairs are there for a reason, kids. Use them. Is there anything worse than when there's two or three people standing up in the whole crowd? And why am I always the poor sap stuck behind them?
Here's another concert ruiner: the text/Tweet/Facebook junkies. You see them a lot these days, their faces illuminated by their smartphones as they update the world about their concert experience, oblivious to the fact that they're ruining yours. I've seen people watch most of a show on that 3-inch screen while the show was going on, full-size, right there in the real world. Ever watch a concert clip posted by some hooplehead? Me neither. It's stupid. Shut off the phone and enjoy the show. Boz Scaggs never sang a song intended to be awesome on your Facebook page. It's true. I asked him.
All this brings me to what might be at the root of all this nonsense: the demon alcohol. That stuff lowers your inhibitions and impairs your decision-making abilities, which would explain a lot of this. I've never understood why people need to ingest a ton of booze to enjoy a concert, but they sure do. And believe me, halfway through Cheap Trick I was wishing I'd had a few pops in me. We had aisle seats, which you'd think would be great, but we spent most of the show standing up to let the drunks in our aisle go back for more beer. And these venues don't serve those little plastic cups of beer; these people were up and down the whole night to get more silos of beer. These things are huge!
And just as soon as they get to the bottom of one, they have to get up and get another, so I have to get up too. There were people in our row that missed more than half the songs because they were either standing in line for beer or standing in line to eliminate the previous ones. Seems like a huge waste of money to me, but try telling that to the guy who runs the beer concessions. He'll laugh so hard that he'll fall out of his Lamborghini and probably bump his head on his other Lamborghini.
Music lovers: Support live music every chance you get. Just be aware that there are other people who pay big bucks to see (and hear) their favorite artists sing and play. And those artists work hard to put on a good show for the fans. So have a little sense about you. Sing when it's appropriate, talk to your friends before the show, after, but not during, unless it's between songs. Stay seated until it's time not to. Turn off that stupid phone, because nobody cares what you're doing. And if you're the only one standing up, everyone hates you.