There’s nothing quite like South by Southwest to remind us Austinites what makes our city so unique. With over 2000 bands playing at more than 90 venues in less than a week, we (and tens of thousands of visitors) get a true taste of this Live Music Capital of the World.
Large, chaotic events can encourage audiences to throw modern manners out the window, but we locals know better. We have all experienced a concert behavior faux pas. From loud talking at an intimate show to the couple next to you reliving their own intimate moment as the band plays “their song,” it’s time we introduce our guests to some concert-going etiquette. Here are five of my favorites guidelines based on interviews of performers, musicians and audience members:
1. Copyright Laws: Copyright laws prevent audience members from recording performances. Be aware that security personnel may suddenly appear to confiscate your video camera and equipment. Holding your iPhone aloft for the duration of a song, in someone’s line of vision, may result in you being escorted out of the venue without your property. Buy a DVD or CD, or download legally when you get home!
2. Respect the Opening Band: SXSW organizers have worked hard to put together cohesive music showcases, but very few attendees will be familiar with all bands playing. It takes courage to get on stage and play for an audience that does not know your music. Even if one of the bands is not your favorite, be appreciative.
3. Public Displays of Affection: Even if it’s dark, we can see you. We ask that you please return to the privacy of your hotel room instead of inches from the next audience member to allow us to focus better on the music.
4. Concert Position: If you arrive early, do not leave in the middle expecting to get your front and center spot back. If you arrive late, do not expect to be able to elbow, nudge, and push to the front. The people at the front are there because they waited for hours to acquire that coveted spot. If you sneak away and return with a few beers, please take a sip beforehand so that the beer goes to your tummy and not down someone’s back.
5. Smoking: Smoking anything inside is illegal in Austin. If you’ve decided to enjoy an herb before the show, please consider showering prior to attending. Your chances of being arrested by one of Austin’s finest will greatly decrease.
When everything goes well, SXSW can be a once-in-a-lifetime live music experience. Just ask one of the 2700 fans who watched Jay-Z take over the ACL Stage on Monday night! Let’s work for our title as Live Music Capital and promote the best SXSW experience possible!