So you’re finally starting to listen
to good music. You bought your first seven inch the other day and
your messenger bag is completely covered in one inch pins. Good,
good. Time to start going to shows. Scared? Don’t worry, my
friends, I know how you feel for I was once un-cool as well. Just
follow my 10 simple rules to show etiquette and you’ll blend
right in, which is ironically exactly the thing we people try to
avoid. Just go with me here.
1) Never wear the shirt of the band you’re about to see.
In the words of Jeremy Piven (in “P.C.U.”),
“Don’t be that guy.” Even worse, never wear the
shirt you just bought at the merch stand. Instead, wear the shirt
of a labelmate, or a side project. It shows your obscure music
knowledge, which is important above all else. The general rule of
thumb is to look like you put no effort into your appearance
whatsoever, even if that means spending hours beforehand trying on
different under-sized T-shirt and thrift store pants
2) Try not to show any interest in the opening bands, or in
anything for that matter. The more apathetic you look, the better.
Scan the crowd nonchalantly to see if anyone looks cuter than you
and move as far away from that person as possible.
3) If someone asks you about a band you don’t know, you
have one of two options to maintain your cred. The first is the
time-honored “Yeah, but I’m really into their earlier
stuff.” However, this can backfire with newer bands. Instead,
try the “Yeah, I think they’re a little too derivative
of Made Up Band.” No one will know that you made up a band.
If they challenge you, claim said band was influential in the 80s
Insert City Name noise scene. Don’t worry, no one else wants
to lose cred so they’ll claim to know who you’re
talking about. My favorite made up band name is the Mimsies. Try
something plural, or something more than five words long.
4) Between sets, you’re only allowed to sing along to the
canned music if it’s cheese metal or something like Journey
or Boston. Much like professional wrestling and shows like Jerry
Springer, it’s cool to pretend to be into Journey without
actually liking them. “Anyway you want it, that’s the
way you need it …”
5) Front row is the place to be. The goal is the fabled
“under the rail” spot. Obtaining this musical Babylon
is however, a very difficult task. Try making up a zine (you
probably write one anyway) and finagling a photo pass. The door
guys are often jerks, so this can backfire without the proper
credentials. Instead, try the classic, “Dude, my
girl/boyfriend is up there.” If that fails, grab a bunch of
water bottles and make your way up there on the pretense of being
with the band, Mentos style. Remember, this is only allowed up
until the age of 24. At that point, you are required to turn in
your scene card, shelve your copy of “Catcher in the
Rye” and hang in the back by the bar, looking bored.
6) Crowd surfing is lame. End of discussion. Also, if
you’re that one dude who still thinks it’s cool to yell
“Play Freebird!” then call me so I can come over and
kick your ass.
7) Do not, I repeat, DO NOT sing along. Quietly mouth the words
to yourself and close your eyes every so often in deep meditation.
If it’s an emo show, look down or up and beat your chest with
your right fist, occasionally mussing your perfectly quaffed hair.
If you so feel the need to request a song, make sure it’s a
rare B side that was only released on limited-edition color
8) The indie rock hip sway is the only permissible dance. That
or the rock lobster. It’s a case by case kind of thing. Try
not to break your composure too much.
9) There’s a fine line between being friendly with the
band after the show and outright stalking. Buy the drummer (or
bassist) a drink at the bar. They’ll appreciate it, as no one
really ever knows/cares who they are.
10) Lastly, when someone asks you about the show, claim they
played better at some other, smaller venue. Whether or not
you’ve seen the band before is irrelevant. Everybody knows
that the smaller the venue, and hence the fewer people there, the
And there you have it. Good luck and godspeed. If you have any
questions, feel free to IM me at xXMourningHeartXx or find me on
— Dailey can be reached at