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Listen up, music fans: Shh!

Marketplace Staff Sep 23, 2010

Listen up, music fans: Shh!

Marketplace Staff Sep 23, 2010


Tess Vigeland: Experts tell us that spending money on experiences will make us happier than if we spend it on things. Experiences, after all, create moments and memories that can last a lifetime. iPhones only last until, well, the next version comes out.

So take a vacation! Or splurge on some concert tickets! But wait — about those tickets. New York Times columnist Ron Lieber has a few words for his fellow concert-goers.

Ron Lieber: I was really looking forward to a lovely John Prine concert on Governors Island in New York City a few weeks back. I couldn’t wait to hear one of my favorite songs, “Lake Marie.”

It was a perfect night with the Manhattan skyline in the background. But instead I heard this:

(Music screeching to a halt.)

Okay, that’s just a sound effect, but that’s what it felt like: a show marred by bad fan behavior of all kinds. The talking, the singing — it was a veritable catalogue of obnoxiousness.

I know it’s only rock ‘n’ roll, but I don’t like it, given how expensive tickets have gotten. Average prices are now about $60 for the biggest acts, up about 20 percent from five years ago, according to Pollstar.

It’s bad enough to have to pay a lot for tickets, but then you throw in child care, food and parking, and it becomes an event that easily can swallow up hundreds of dollars. So, please, on behalf of all concert-goers, consider a few basic rules.

First, don’t talk. Who are these dingbats who pay all of this money to come to a show and talk over the music? Do you know what that sounds like? It sounds like this.

(Clip of folks talking over “Lake Marie.”)

Yes, it is annoying. Brief questions about the song name or the time signature are fine, but keep it short and to the point. And if you don’t care about your fellow concert-goer, at least think about the musician up on the stage trying to perform over the chatter. And no, this rule is not suspended during opening acts, no matter how lousy.

And finally, don’t croon. No one from “American Idol” is here to discover you, and we did not come to listen to you sing. Unless you can sing on key. And in harmony. Do I make the cut?

(Lieber singing over “Lake Marie.”)

And if I don’t, well, imagine paying big bucks to sit next to me at a concert as I warble in your ear. No fun, right?

Because I can’t be at every show to enforce these rules, I’m counting on all of you to take up this cause. The artists and the venues ought to weigh in too. Why not print your own rules on your tickets if you want to avoid arguments among your patrons?

Yeah, it’s probably not very rock ‘n’ roll. But we fans would like it a lot more if we could hear just a little bit better.

Vigeland: Ron Lieber writes the your money column for the New York Times.

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