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How TikTok Made People Forget Concert Etiquette

Written by
Ethan Court
and
and
July 5, 2023
How TikTok Made People Forget Concert Etiquette
via veeterzy on Pexels

In the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic, I joined a daily journaling program called The Isolation Journals. Founded by writer Suleika Jaouad, it was a daily (now weekly) email with a prompt for what you were going to write about that day. Unfortunately, a lot of my journals were lost after my last laptop died (R.I.P. to my Macbook, may you be remembered by my sticker of Mulder and Scully from The X-Files on my dresser). However, I remember one of the many prompts was talking about plans for once Quarantine was done. I wrote about my love of concerts and reminisced about my very first one. 

Let’s paint a picture. Artpark in Lewiston, New York. A young queer in the seventh grade, wearing matching homemade shirts with their 15-year-old sister because their dad did not buy them Band shirts (thanks, Dan). It was Arctic Monkeys’ 2013 tour for the album that made every preteen on Tumblr a little bicurious, AM. One particular moment I remembered was this little ginger girl with glasses and her 6’1” idiot boyfriend harassing my mom for getting upset that their drunk friend threw up on our lawn chairs, calling her “a dumb old crippled bitch”. I missed “R U Mine?” because they started a fight between them and 10 other people (one being my mom’s firefighter step-brother), so if those people are out there, I am very happy that you guys got kicked out of the venue. However, my first concert taught me something very important: it taught me how to act like an idiot but still not be a nuisance to society. I knew, that as long as I didn't act like them and get kicked out, I was fine.

So every concert after that, whether at big venues or small clubs, I made sure I wasn’t getting too physical with people, getting too intoxicated, and was going with the RIGHT PEOPLE. However, I have recently been seeing—both in person and through social media—that not a lot of people know how to act in a public setting. For that I blame…TikTok.

Like a majority of the planet Earth, I started to become addicted to TikTok in late 2019/early 2020. Now, I would say having an internet addiction has been prevalent all of my life, but corona didn’t make it better. On top of that, TikTok made it incredibly easy to break out in the music industry, due to how the app’s algorithm works. Instead of making music that now inspires people or adds something new to the media artform, people now make music with the intent of going viral.  

Now, before I continue, I need to state one thing: I am not at all critiquing any of the artists that have become successful because of TikTok. Actually, the two concerts I went to in 2022 were artists that have the social media app to thank for their success (Maude Latour in April, and Remi Wolf in October). I am simply ranting about a giant commonality I’ve noticed in the past few weeks about the new audiences attracted from TikTok. If you want an opinion piece about the repetitiveness of new pop music, check out Alyssa Triano’s Why Today's Music Sucks: The Decline Of Good Music.

However, the main problem with the new audience is that they only come for one song. Now, I’m not the exception to this either. Recently, I saw Rebecca Black in Toronto only for the absolute legend that is 2011’s “Friday”. That is not so much the problem, but rather the way they act when the song ends. These new audiences know no boundaries when their song isn’t playing. They usually come for one song, usually a song that blew up on TikTok. That combined with the social awkwardness of post-pandemic social gatherings creates a fusion of piss-poor behaviour. 

For example, shows from pop singer-songwriter Sabrina Carpenter’s tour have been in the spotlight for scrutiny recently. In a Youtube video uploaded by Ashley Ippolito (better known as Ur Internet Mom Ash, a Content Creator and Music Journalist based in Arizona), Ippolito discusses her most recent interactions at Carpenter’s Los Angeles and Mesa shows. In the video titled “SABRINA CARPENTER RECOGNIZED ME AT HER SHOW *storytime/vlog ahhhHHH*” (I know. The video was definitely titled by a Mid-20s white woman who has a fanbase of majority white women but nonetheless, check out Ippolito’s channels for media and pop culture dissections), Ippolito states that at the Mesa show, her friend, who happens to be in a wheelchair, was pushed repeatedly in the pit in an overcrowded venue in the middle of the Arizona sun. Obviously, you will have to deal with the crampedness when you are in the pit at the concert, so it’s nothing out of the ordinary to experience a bit of claustrophobia there. However, Ippolito stated that the people who were shoving and being rude to others were only acting appropriately during the song “Nonsense,” which has been going viral on TikTok. Carpenter and her fans are not the only ones to be at the shit end of the stick when it comes to viral success. Think of the videos of R&B singer Steve Lacy’s concerts, where Lacy gets upset when they throw objects—like cameras—at him.

For those of you who do not know, Lacy is an Alternative R&B that was a part of the band The Internet. Last year, Lacy released his sophomore studio album Gemini Rights. The album was praised by critics for it’s funk and psychedelic sound, with Rolling Stone’s Mankaprr Conteh saying the album is a "tight collection of rock and R&B, funk and jazz, psych and hip-hop that's as warm and airy as the cusp of summer, when Geminis are born". One particular song that has gone viral on TikTok is Bad Habit, the second single of the album. In July of 2022, sped-up versions of the song started going viral. While performing the ballad on the Gemini Rights tour, videos of a completely silent crowd as Lacy sings about biting his tongue and lost love. However, what was interesting about those videos was that every single person in the audience was holding their phones, camera, and other devices up. Although we are all guilty of taking photos and videos of the concert, imagine the site from the stage, seeing an endless sea of screens. It takes away the intimacy of seeing an artist that makes you feel however you felt when you first discover them. Going back to Bad Habit, the song was the set closer for his tour. However, no one was prepared when Lacy decided to end the song early. At his New Orleans show on October 21st, while Lacy was performing, an audience member threw a camera on the stage, which hit him. After halting the show, Lacy told the members of the Orpheum Theater to not  “throw shit on my fucking stage. Please!”. After a brief walk to the back of the stage, Lacy took the fan’s camera and smashed it on the stage and ended his show immediately. A few days after the show, Lacy took to Instagram and stated: “Shoutout to the people not throwing disposable cameras at me and just coming to catch a vibe and connect. I had a really good time in nola last night. I hate that the beauty of the connection I have with so many people in the crowd gets lost when something negative happens. I don’t believe I owe anyone an apology. Maybe I could’ve reacted better? Sure. Always. I’m a student of life. But I’m a real person with real feelings and real reactions. I’m not a product or a robot. I am human. I will continue to give my all at these shows. Please come with respect for urself and others please thank you love u.”

Lacy put it best. Artists like him and Carpenter are seen more as an asset to a viral moment rather than a person. The new idea of viral fame has dehumanized (and borderline objectifies) performers. The new generation of concert-goers transports from a 15 second- 3 minute video of a song on their phone screens to a live performance, which can take up to two hours. A lot of times, respect and common decency goes out the door as soon as they enter the venue. It puts themselves, the other audience members, and the artist in an uncomfortable situation that could be easily avoided. Moral of the story, don’t act like a fucking dick at concerts. You can make someone’s experience (including the artist who has worked from the ground up to get to this point in their career) a better one if you are aware of surroundings and not treat the singer/band like zoo animals.

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