I have attended concerts since 1972. Going to concerts is something I really enjoy! I gone to hundreds of concerts over the years. (Although I have a list, I have never taken the time to count the number of concerts I have attended or the number of performers I have had the pleasure of seeing live, but it’s a big number!) I have observed several types of concert fans over the years. There are some concert goers who sit politely in their seats throughout the show, applauding graciously at the conclusion of every song. There are other music fans who push their way to the front, to get as close to the stage as possible, and if it is a certain type of show, they insert themselves into the mosh pit at the first opportunity, where they remain until the sounds of the encore song have faded away. There are other fans who remain seated until the band plays their favorite song, when they rise to their feet to sing (hopefully, in key) and dance (hopefully, with rhythm) along with the band. There are people who are content only when they are seated in the first row, in the most expensive seat possible, and there are people who are just happy to be there, to the point they are fine in the “nosebleed” section. Some concert fans prefer to attend “festival” shows that provide the opportunity to see multiple acts, with each group performing for a short time, while other fans prefer to only see their favorite artist, often eschewing the chance to hear the opening act. Then, there are RUSH fans. Fans of the group RUSH are unlike any other. Not only do the people who attended RUSH concerts know every word to every song, they rise to their feet at the sound of the first note being played and they rarely sit down until they get into their car to go home when the show was over. (Sadly, I am writing in past tense because, as far as I know, there will never be another RUSH concert, due to the passing of their drummer, Neal Peart, in January of 2020.) David is a huge RUSH fan and the first time I went with him to one of their shows, I didn’t know what to expect, nor did I know what to think when I witnessed what I now know is the epitome of fandom. The people who attended RUSH concerts had an amazing ability to move their bodies to the beat, regardless if the time signature of a song is 7/8, 11/13, or an everyday time signature such as 4/4. There was more head bobbing, air guitar playing, and general exuberance than with any other band I have ever seen. Yes, there are all types of concert fans, but the fans of RUSH are #1 in their love of the band and their enjoyment of live music. Rock on!
Yes, RUSH shows are unique. Head bobbing to their irregular time signatures is much more common than dancing to RUSH music. But, that is probably true of most prog-rock bands. Still, there are variations – some people “dance” by thrusting their fists or arms in the air like they are cheering. Others stand on the seats and dance, hopefully, not falling into the crowd. At jazz shows the audience can be very subdued. At some shows, enthusiasm is discouraged, or “punished” by enforcers in security jackets. Often the tone is set by the band – especially the lead singer telling the audience to “Get the F up…or get the F out” or worse. Engaging the audience and getting reactions is certainly something most bands attempt to do. The exceptions to this are performers who seem to do “their thing” despite the presence of an audience. Melissa and I saw Bob Dylan play an entire show in virtual darkness while never addressing the large crowd. Then there was Miles Davis, who played the entire show with his back to the stage. Such performances result in different audience behavior than might have occurred with more “normal” performers. I go to shows for the visual, as well as aural, stimulation. Some people probably “let loose” at shows while most behave somewhat close to how they do on a daily basis. But, I’ve witnessed crowds that have collectively been energized by a few bands way beyond others such as Metallica, Pink Floyd, and Prince. The energy lasted way beyond the show. But, the worse type of “concert fans” are the talkers. Sometimes, I’m sure these people are not really “fans” of the band. They were the “plus 1″ who went along for the ride, but whose endless chatter spoils some of the pleasure for everyone else. And, when the chatterers are drunk – well, watch out. To paraphrase Sully Erna of Godsmack (quoted above), I wish these talkers would “Shut the F up or get the F out”!
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