Weigh in on standers blocking the view of sitters at concerts!

Monday, August 20th, 2012, 3:07 pm by Ben Salmon

At the end of my Norah Jones review in last week’s GO! Magazine, I addressed an issue not directly related to the performance, but certainly tangentially related to attending a concert at Les Schwab Amphitheater, which was more crowded than usual that night thanks to a large section of reserved seats and three VIP tents. Here’s that aside:

… this was a crowd ripe for some epic showdowns between people who wanted to sit and people who wanted to stand. And that happened; I was near one particularly nasty confrontation. The Schwab should put up signs at shows like this that say something like “People are allowed to stand and dance wherever they’d like.”

I understand the sitters’ frustration, but that’s just how it is. Period.

And if you’re the type of person who’ll sit in your chair and yell “move!” and “sit down!” at a group of people standing and obscuring your view of the stage, do everyone a favor and stop doing that.

Since that published, I’ve received a handful of emails from folks talking me to task for, essentially, encouraging people to stand and dance and block the view of other people who paid to enter the venue as well and deserve to be able to see from their seats. And now, I’d like to expand on this topic in another column, reviewing opinions on both sides and looking into not only the policies at a few local venues, but also how they feel about it.

So if you have something to say, I hope you’ll leave a comment, ideally with your real name and your home town, since I may be including it in the column.

Do you think people who’ve paid to enter a venue to see a concert have the right to stand and dance wherever they like? Or would you side with the folks who believe their seat should come with an unobstructed view of the show? And does your opinion change based on whether the show is in a venue with seats as opposed to general admission on a lawn? Let me know!

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21 Responses to “Weigh in on standers blocking the view of sitters at concerts!”

  1. Tricia says:

    People should be able to stand, or dance, if they have paid for admission to a show no question. That being said, there are some shows that are more sitting friendly, and I do think its irksome when standers do so to make a point rather than because they are moved by the spirit to dance or sway or whatever. But I’m not going to yell at them, they have the right to stand, as a sitter has the right to sit. Also, for me, the expectation is different if you are going to a show with no actual seats than it is if you are going to a show in a theater. But I’ve always wondered… do the standers go to say, plays or Broadway shows and stand through the performance? Do they just have an aversion to sitting on theater seats?

  2. Brady says:

    I would like to see more hand stands at concerts.

  3. alyssa from bend says:

    Concerts are made for dancing! If it is general admission lawn seating then the standers have the same rights as the sitters…if you don’t like it then stay at home sitting on your couch and watch the concert on DVD! When there are seats involved then I guess it depends on the concert. I’ve never been to a concert were everyone stayed seated even with assigned seats. But I can’t imagine yelling at fellow concert goers for standing, dancing and haveing a good time.

  4. Jack Elliott says:

    To be fair, some music exists simply for dancing, and I reckon that anyone going to see such an act who is unaware of what they are getting into will shortly figure it out. Other acts are less about dance and more about the music and the performers.

    Yet some people are so moved to stand up and dance that they’d probably get Happy Feets listening to a bongo player. Such people always seem to be in front of me.

    It aggravates me that they don’t care about the people behind them and that they get to dictate the situation. All it takes is one or two standing ninnyhammers in the front row to cause a chain reaction where those behind them have to stand just to see the act they paid to see, then those behind them have to stand — wash rinse repeat.

    And some of these clowns get that apparently uncontrollable dance impulse early on in the show, forcing everyone behind them onto their feet for what might be an hour or two. I mean, why the hell did I pay for a seat?

    We all have impulses that we temper out of simple courtesy to those around us, and it would be nice if someone with an itching desire to get up and dance would glance over their shoulder to see whether anyone behind them was already up. Not everyone was planning to spend the rest of the concert on their feet.

    Dig a big hole up front for the standers and dancers and sell the seats to those that wish to use them.

    That’s my take on shows where I bought a seat. General lawn admission, now that’s a different story: Express your hippie freedom and stand and wave your arms around all you want, I don’t mind. I’ll probably just be doing the same in my old white guy fashion.

    BONUS QUESTION: Speaking of which, are we in Bend just too old and white to bring in any good hiphop acts?

    • Ben Salmon says:

      BONUS ANSWER OK NOT REALLY ANOTHER BONUS QUESTION: What good hiphop acts would you like to see in Bend, Jack? Let’s hear two or three or five … I’m very curious!

      • Jack Elliott says:

        The estimable Ben Salmon writes to say, “What good hiphop acts would you like to see in Bend, Jack?”

        Dude. Lil Jon. Jay-Z! B.o.B! The Notorious B.I.G., TUPAC. 50 Cent. Dr. Dre. Nelly.

        The list goes on. Shake that ass, girl.

        This town can’t afford these acts. Hey–must be the money.

  5. Adam says:

    Might have to pack up and move, might be a little high on the lawn, etc., but my experience is that at most if not all of the GA shows I’ve been to, determined sitters can find a spot where they can sit and still see. (Never been to LSA, however – maybe it’s a slope problem there?)

    Even at a seated venue, it’s really not unlike a sporting event – sometimes you gotta roll with the punches.

    Pretty much I’m siding with the standers, but maybe there could be an area cordoned off for sitters depending on the act? I don’t know. The complainers would probably just find something else to complain about.

  6. Scott A says:

    I have a simple answer to this:

    If you paid for general admission seats – e.g. no reserved seating – you don’t have a “right” to anything. You have a right to stand or sit wherever works for you. If the standers are in your way and you want to sit, well, you’ll have to move to the side or back until you find a place that works for you.

    If you paid for reserved seating – which should NEVER be the setup for shows where people want to stand, IMO (which is why I have never seen a show at the Tower Theater and probably never will) – you get the right to sit on your butt and if people in front of you are standing, well, dang that sucks.

  7. AC says:

    This is a venue issue. If they’re going to charge higher prices for seating, they need to make sure that seating has an unobstructed view. It’s not fair for the people paying those prices to not be able to see the act. People can and should be able to stand and dance the night away, but the seating should be raised or put in very front where people can’t dance in front of, or whatever.

  8. Wesley says:

    Let ’em stand! I’m not condoning the goofy hallelujah hippie shit but the last thing we need is more rules. It’s primarily the super square, yuppie scum, that only go to concerts because it’s the “hip” thing to do, that would even fathom getting righteous about people standing at an outdoor concert.
    Obviously, indoor concert/play settings vary so greatly it comes down to a case by case basis but when in doubt “let ’em fly that freak flag”. More than likely, the performers actually enjoy it more than some lump of insecurity golf clapping after each song.

    • Michael Funke says:

      Or maybe it isn’t super square yuppie scum at all. That sort of comment really shows ignorance and arrogance, pal. Maybe its someone who can’t stand for a long time because of health issues. Are you suggesting that folks with these issues be told to stand or get out. That’s discrimination, my friend, not to mention puting your little old SELF ahead of the community you live in. There are many times when dancers and standers show respect for those around them. And there are many times when dancers and standers obviously think they are the center of the universe and don’t give a shit about anyone else. Where do you fit in?

  9. Jack Elliott says:

    “More than likely, the performers actually enjoy it more than some lump of insecurity golf clapping after each song.”

    You trumped me. You are so right! Yeah, those guys are getting paid to perform, but it it’s just a “for the money” performance, ain’t worth listening to. IMO.

  10. Jack Elliott says:

    ” Lil Jon. Jay-Z! B.o.B! The Notorious B.I.G., TUPAC. 50 Cent. Dr. Dre. Nelly.”

    Um, I wasn’t thinking when I wrote that list, just listing some of my favorites. A couple of those artists are no longer with us, and I’m feeling like a nitwit. But you get the idea.

    • Ben Salmon says:

      I read this last night and was gonna say, Jack, if you can get Tupac and Biggie here, I guarantee people will show up to see them. :)

      Anyway, what you’re talking about is a topic I’d also like to address, because there’s plenty to say there, too. My very quick take? 1) There aren’t enough hip-hop fans in the region who would be willing to pay $40+ for a big-name act’s show, and probably not even enough in Oregon in general to try to draw from Portland, etc. I mean, rap acts do play Portland, but not that many. I haven’t looked at an archive of tour dates or anything, but it’s not like Kanye, Jay-Z, Eminem, etc., roll through the Pacific Northwest all that often. They stick to where people will see them. And anyway, 2) the LSA has to think about noise level and the content of the songs, lest people nearby complain. A pop act or rock band that keeps the four-letter words to a minimum is one thing (amazing Tenacious D generated no complaints), but a bass-heavy rap song with plenty of F-words, etc., would be a problem, for sure.

      LASTLY, I will say that there have been some very good hip-hop acts come through town over the years, just not at those levels. Aesop Rock, Blue Scholars, Dark Time Sunshine, Busdriver, Open Mike Eagle, Afro Classics, The Chicharones, Del + Hieroglyphics, Talib Kweli, The Coup, etc., etc. The atmosphere is almost always more “dark, cramped club” than what you’d get at LSA (less appealing for most folks), but the music is still good.

      That being said, I have been for years hoping for and calling for a big-name rap show at the amphitheater. Maybe someday.

      OK, that probably wasn’t “very quick” …

  11. Ben Salmon says:

    Also, I wish I could “Like” everyone’s comments, a la Facebook. I’ve loved reading them and appreciate them all very much. Thank YOU for adding your voice to the debate!

  12. Jack Elliott says:

    “I read this last night and was gonna say, Jack, if you can get Tupac and Biggie here, I guarantee people will show up to see them. :)”

    I may have been drinking.

    “I will say that there have been some very good hip-hop acts come through town over the years, just not at those levels. […] The atmosphere is almost always more ‘dark, cramped club’ than what you’d get at LSA (less appealing for most folks), but the music is still good.”

    Good point. I’m not sure that LSA is a great venue for hiphop anyway. You cited noise levels and four-letter words as possible issues, and I’d like to add that, like jazz, a smaller venue can make for a more intimate experience.

    Anyway, I didn’t mean to hijack your thread with my gripe. Wasn’t Ice-T here, like, last year? I missed that show, I wonder if it was any good.

  13. Cliff Taylor says:

    Been to many concerts over the years. The best solution to the problem I’ve encountered is to have a no standing/dancing area directly in front of the stage. Off to the sides or farther back is fine. It works well and everybody is happy…

  14. Michael Funke says:

    So, apparently, a lot of folks here and maybe you as well Ben, think that a 65 year old music fan with a bad back should just stay home and shut up. Bullpucky. usic is not just for the young and able, my friends, and those who feel that way are simply showing insensitivity and rudeness. I agree with a previous post, dance or stand along the sides so that those who want to or maybe who can only sit for a long show have a decent sight line. This issue really does say alot about our culture and society, ie, that those who can still stand and dance don’t give a crap about those who can’t. I don’t pay to see your butt, eh? Just as I don’t pay to l;isten to your obnoxious chatter over the music. It isn’t about rights, folks, it is about respect and community.

  15. Adele Cerny says:

    Whenever I travel the three hours to Bend from Seneca, I look for opportunities to hear live music, both ticketed and free. Several weeks ago, I was able to attend concerts in both the Old Mill district and Drake Park. In both cases, people stood up and danced directly in front of the stage, obscuring the view of the band and singers, leaving only a view of peoples’ rears directly in front of the seated audience. Even though the Old Mill stage was higher, seated audience still couldn’t see around the people. The Drake Park stage was even worse because it is almost at ground level. I found it interesting that although the music was excellent, it definitely took away from the listening experience. I finally gave up and left both concerts. Later, I asked friends in Bend if this was an uncommon crowd or unusual event. They said that ‘unfortunately’ it was the norm.
    If people would like to dance or stand, perhaps an area could be designated that would not interfere with the audience’s line of sight. Out of common courtesy, I believe that people should think in terms of the common good and let the rest of the audience enjoy the show as well.

  16. Holly says:

    There are many people with limited abilities who are unable to stand for an entire concert, not necessarily in a wheel chair who don’t appear disabled. This should be taken into consideration of others. They should be allowed to see the show.

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