After two years in live music, precarious concerts are back in full force and some big players are lined up for Toronto this summer.
The Weeknd, Kendrick Lamar, Harry Styles, Charlotte Day Wilson, Joey Bada$$ are all on the program, as well as OVO Fest, Manifesto and Toronto’s first-ever Rolling Loud Festival.
So it’s going to be pandemonium in the city and it’s already started.
At Phoebe Bridgers’ recent show at Echo Beach, there were already reports of a bit of mayhem.
Many spectators have accumulated energy that they are just waiting to release. And there’s a new group of people who’ve never been to a concert who just walked on stage.
But there can’t be anarchy in salons – there’s etiquette and best practices to follow.
The star enlisted DirtyHappy DJ AJ Qurashi, who created his Raving Taco online persona by attending hundreds of concerts and electronic festivals during the 2010s, as well as legendary Toronto goer MindBender, whose prolific attendance l led to “probably a few thousand”. concerts, to provide their advice on the proper conduct to adopt during shows.
Pick up people if they fall
Moshpits aren’t just for punk and metal shows anymore — they’re everywhere.
They’re a staple of hip-hop shows according to the artist and with the amount of pent-up energy a two-year pandemic has generated, they’re sure to become more prolific.
While bouncing back at people, Mindbender says it’s important to be aware of who you’re teasing with, especially if they’re hitting the deck.
“Get people off the ground if they’re hurt or bleeding,” Mindbender said. He also mentions that it’s important to note the height of the people you’re bouncing on. “Try not to destroy someone who is 100 pounds lighter than you.”
Don’t throw anything on stage
Qurashi, as a DirtyHappy DJ and Raving Taco fan, has been on both sides of the artist-fan interaction when he saw things thrown on stage.
For the most part, he considers it a bad idea.
“It’s a big responsibility. Definitely bottles and stuff is a huge no. I think overall it’s probably not a good idea.
There is, however, a bit of wiggle room. Some artists have traditions for their shows that allow people to throw certain things on stage.
“I know (with) A$AP Rocky, women constantly throw bras on stage and there are some artists where it’s a tradition to throw bras on stage,” Mindbender explained. “I’ve seen many Cypress Hill shows, it’s a tradition to throw blunts and joints on stage at the end of the show, so that makes sense.”
Be aware of your size
Standing at 6’1” Mindbender is hyper aware of what his height means at a gig, even to the point of adapting his outfit to minimize his obstruction.
“If you’re tall, make sure you don’t wear a hat,” he said. “If you’re wearing a hat, try to be aware of sightlines unless you’re really wearing that wild performer’s wild outfit. If you’re that person, be aware of the people behind you and walk away a bit or just try to minimize the number of people behind you that you block.
Make sure people know you’re about to surf
Pushing the boundaries when it comes to the concert experience is at an all-time high right now.
One of the most popular ways to mass-generate the ultimate concert experience is through crowd surfing. The catch, however, is that crowd surfing requires buy-in from at least part of the crowd.
“You have to have your main people who are going to hold you back because if you randomly jump up, you’re just going to get dumped,” Qurashi said. “I’ve seen this happen. People will jump into the crowd and everyone backs up. You just see them go,” he added, clapping his hands to simulate splashing.
Don’t get too blitzed
A drink, or two, or three could be expected for most of us, but Mindbender encourages those who attend concerts to know their limits.
At some point, it’s not about those around you, it could end your experience in a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“I’m not going to go to (a) show…then drink six beers, throw up and miss a third of the show, like what?” he said.
sing your heart
This one comes with a caveat, sing your heart out… when appropriate.
“You’re on the show to let go of everything you’re holding on to,” Qurashi said. “Your favorite artist is finally in town and you’re here so you can shout those lyrics as loud as you can because you can’t do this at home or at the bus stop.”
Obviously, everyone at the concert is there because they love the music or because they were coached by someone else who loves it. But just because you’re supposed to dance like nobody’s watching and sing like nobody’s listening doesn’t mean you should sing the wrong lyrics, Mindbender explained.
“If you don’t know the verses, stick to the chorus or stick to that punch line or that line that you know very well. Like sticking to the parts you really like and the songs you like. If you (just) want to listen, you could probably stay home.
Live the experience through your eyes, not your phone
Phones are the trickiest subject when it comes to gigs because while it’s amazing to have an experience, it’s also tempting to capture it for later.
But then consider how often you come back to watch videos on your phone of things you’ve recorded in the past. For Qurashi, it may not be worth it.
“I love taking videos, but there’s the other side where people will end up watching the concert on their phone screen all the time,” he said. “They don’t realize they’re looking at their phone when there’s a concert right there. Like, don’t take videos all the time.”
Don’t be that person – protect the space
It’s easy to get lost in the mix of emotions at a gig, but one thing that needs to be protected above all else is space.
Artists and their fans develop reputations, not all of them good. For example, rapper Playboi Carti’s fan reputation took a hit after he relentlessly booed Rico Nasty midway through his first set.
Just as the people on stage should be respected, so should the room.
“I don’t leave trash,” Mindbender said. “It’s really trash behavior because I love going back to gigs and if you’re really a gig lover you know if the place is destroyed at the end this place probably won’t think of booking them back to new.”
Corrigendum — June 19, 2022: This article has been updated to correct the spelling of AJ Qurashi.
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