When I read our story earlier this week about a group of people alerting the police that they were being harassed by a “crazy drunk lady who is trying to take our beers” at a Peanut Butter and Jam concert, I chuckled and rolled my eyes.
Sadly, that scene is not uncommon.
You’d think people would know how to behave when they are out among other humans, animals and plant life, but too often I have observed scenes like that “crazy drunk lady” incident play out while a band is playing on a stage.
We’d like to take a moment to remind people that, even though you’re wearing flip-flops and sipping wine out of a plastic cup, it’s not cool to be a rude audience member.
To put it another way: Going to summer festivals often means paying sky-high concert prices, outrageous parking fees and way too much for semi-cold beer. So who wants to put up with jerks, too?
And even when you go to a free event, like Peanut Butter and Jam, you’re likely to be spending money. (To test that theory, try leaving Kenosha’s Taste of Wisconsin food and music fest this weekend without dropping at least $50. It can’t be done, but that’s OK — the Kiwanis Club of Western Kenosha uses those funds to help local charities. So go ahead and have that third bucket of nachos. It’s for a good cause!)
To recap: You’re spending money, and you’re swatting at mosquitoes. The last thing you need is a bunch of rude folks ruining the experience.
Before we all stay inside and miss out on all the fun, let me put on my Miss Manners hat and offer a guide to concert etiquette that will make the summer concert season more pleasant for everyone (including the performers):
Pick your spots: It’s fine to sing along when The B-52s get the crowd going on “Love Shack” — in fact, it’s mandatory — but when a slow ballad is being sung, BE QUIET and LISTEN. Sting’s fans came to hear him emote (Aug. 23-24 at the Ravinia Festival), not you.
Say what? If you don’t know the lyrics, please don’t share your version — at the top of your lungs — with the rest of us. We can mess up on our own, and we will. I promise you that.
This is a politics-free zone: I’ve been waiting several years to see Rick Springfield (Aug. 7 at the Wisconsin State Fair), so excuse me if I don’t care to hear your theory about trade tariffs while he’s on stage.
Enjoy the moment — without trying to capture everything on your phone: There’s nothing worse than trying to enjoy a live performance while all around you people are holding up their phones or, worse, their iPads.
Don’t drink and dance: Especially if you have a full cup of beer. I can spill on my own shoes, thank you.
Shhhhhh: Oh, you just saw your best friend from junior high at Twilight Jazz and you need to catch up? I’m so happy for you! Now please walk to the back of the concert area before launching into a recap of your life over the past 20 years.
Please don’t smoke ’em if you got ’em: I know it’s an outdoor concert, but cigarette smoke does not add to the enjoyment. If you must smoke (and I’d rather you not), stay away from other audience members as much as possible. Again, hang out near the back or sides of the crowd. The best solution is creating some smoking areas. Are you listening, concert organizers?
Taming Fido: Before bringing your dog to an event, check to see if animals are allowed. Also, keep your dog on a leash, keep him at home if he’s a barker, and keep a close eye on him. I’m cool with my dogs snatching snacks at home, but I don’t care to share my fries with your best friend.
Don’t be trashy: Put your food wrappers — and beverage containers — into a garbage can and not on the ground. Repeat: NOT on the ground. Nothing’s worse than walking by a park the morning after a concert and seeing the grounds littered with ... litter.
Now get out there and enjoy some music — politely. Summer is fleeting in Wisconsin, and we’ll be bundling up soon enough. Soak up that Vitamin D while you can.
Have a comment? Email Liz at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 262-656-6271.
PHOTOS: Lincoln Park Live: Betsy Ade & the Well-Known Strangers
Betsy Ade & the Well-Known Strangers — a band made up of Ade on vocals, Cameron Fair on cello and piano, Brittany Lumley playing multiple instruments and backing vocals, Roger Gower Jr. on drums, John Kulas on the bass and Joe Adamek on lead guitar — played a two-hour set at the latest installment of Lincoln Park Live in Lincoln Park, 6900 18th Ave., on Tuesday, July 17.
Here are a roundup of photos of the band performing at the event.