More on performers and audiences
I’m not sure if I struck any kind of nerve yesterday when I wrote about audiences loyal to one performer bailing on the acts booked to follow them, but after giving more thought to the issue, and after reading the responses from some of you, I figured it might be worth another blog post.
Okay, first: If you’re one of those people who bails after the act you want to see is done, there’s no law that says you have to stick around. You’re not married to anyone, and you’re free to go as you please. However, it just might behoove you to stick around with open ears and mind; contempt prior to investigation, on a continual basis, will keep you in an everlasting state of musical ignorance.
“But what if the acts that follow just ‘suck’?” you ask. Well, yeah. Then vote with your feet. But sometimes, if you stick around for a few songs, a musical act will find its footing and will surprise you. But that’s up to you. Still, if you see all your friends bailing after your pals finish their set, maybe you’ll want to stick around so you won’t be part of what I call the rude exodus, because when some performers see that happening just before or even during their sets, they can get upset, or demoralized, or otherwise distracted.
Now, there are certain contexts where leaving en masse is entirely okay, e.g. at festivals like South by Southwest, where you’re in a hurry to jump around and see several different bands at different venues on a given night. And if you’re in a hurry to go see someone else that evening on a different stage across town, that’s probably all right.
For those of you who play music, and I’ll include myself here, there’s an added layer of loyalty and reciprocal behavior that can complicate things. If someone is coming to see you play, and especially if they support your band, you probably should return the favor. No one says you have to, but people do notice those things, and really appreciate it when you make an effort to show up. No one says you have to like the band you’re seeing, and it’s best to be honestly critical rather than shamelessly pandering, but suiting up and showing up is a good thing.
And one other observation, and this is just my opinion: If you’re on a bill, unless you’re double booked that night at some other club, try to stick around for the other performers. Support the bill you’re on. It’s really pretty callous when not only your entourage sweeps out of the club after you finish your set, but you sweep out with them. Unless you have to work early in the morning — and this, again, is only my opinion — it’s a good thing to stick around for the whole show.
Again, not etched in stone, just my opinion, and I’ll shut up now. —Jackson Griffith