37 rules for gigs and shows

I am expanded on my complaints related to attending live music. I do this having been inspired by Kitty Flanagan’s 488 Rules for Life - these are my rules for gigs and shows.

I love going to live music. I love the energy and passion and the uniqueness that a gig brings. Though some gigs aren’t great, my grievances are related much more to the audience members than any performer.

So these are my rules and I demand that they are adhered to - otherwise, face my wrath!


Applause is an obvious aspect of any gig or show. We show our appreciation of a song and an artist/band - we show our approval and pleasure at what we are experiencing. No worries. But the following are behaviours that I don’t get.

01. Don’t start clapping when the lights go out
I get that people can get excited that a show is going to start - I sometimes share that excitement - but there are some people who do it as a childish things including whooping and whistling. Steady on - you’ll have plenty of time to let yourself go later, so for now, just behave.

02. Don’t start clapping when the band comes on stage
Similar to above, control yourself and sit back and enjoy the ride - they haven’t done anything yet.

03. Don’t start clapping (and cheering) when your city/town is mentioned
What on earth is this about? Why does everyone turn into Redneck boguns? It’s just the town you live in. What are you clapping for?

04. Don’t clap when an artist is mentioned who you like
“We’d now like to do a Bob Dylan song” - and people clap. Yes, you like Bob Dylan, but so what? Who is the applause for? Certainly not Bob, as he rarely is seen out. Are you just letting people know that you like (e.g.) Bob? Is it showing people that you are connected? Tell me - why and for whom are you clapping?

05. Don’t clap at the end of the pre-song description
The band doesn’t need to be applauded for having explained what the next song is about - they are quite capable of completing sentences without been treated like they have achieved something special.

06. Don’t clap when you recognise a song
When a song starts, there are the moments when people recognise what it is and, if they like it, they applaud. Why? Are you a dog that wants a biscuit because of the clever thing you did? This applause can come from the intro or the first note. Why do you want to cover part of the song with pointless noise? Sit back and let it happen - nobody is impressed with you for recognising a song that they probably recognised too.

07. Don’t clap when a long note is held
This seems to have started in the US where the most mundane things are treated as wonderful. An artist singing a song with long notes is doing what they do. What’s this whooping and hollering crap that implies that they have done something miraculous? Let them do what they do - they sing. Writers don’t get applauded whenever they write a long word - the same should apply to singers.

08. Don’t clap along with the song
I acknowledge that I am not a person who likes to join in, but regardless, if not asked by the singer, don’t feel that clapping along adds anything. Other than often being off beat, it flattens songs - it certainly never makes them better.

09. Don’t clap every solo
The biggest culprits are jazz audiences. I am often impressed by a solo and sometimes applaud to show my appreciation - normal behaviour. But some people applaud every solo regardless of complexity, length or worth. This act  demeans all other solos. You can’t applaud every solo as that doesn’t mean anything and doesn’t differentiate the worthy ones. It is almost a learnt and expected gesture – it is an action with no value.

10. Don’t clap before the song finishes
I don’t know when this started, but it is annoying. Just because the singer has finished, doesn’t mean that you start clapping - the band are doing their stuff. And sometimes the applause starts as the singer is finishing the vocals - I mean they are still singing! There seems to be a rush to start clapping - why not wait for the band to stop - so they get to complete the song before you start your appreciation - doesn’t that make more sense?

11. Don’t do ‘high clapping’
Clapping with your hands above your head means what? I like you more than those who are clapping like normal people? Considering bands can usually only see the first 3 rows because they have lights in their face, so why you’ll be sitting at the back of Rod Laver Arena clapping above my head seems odd - whose benefit is that for? Just to show people how high your appreciation is?

12. Don’t do ‘pointed clapping’
This is where people clap, but reach out their hands towards the person they are directing the applause for - in the same way as some chat-show-guests have started doing. Sometimes, they sweep their clapping towards each band member to ensure that they receive some of the accolade - just in case and band member feels that they didn’t get their share of the clapping. Just clap you knobs.

13. Don’t clap when you haven’t been listening - or worse, talking
How it annoys me when people are talking throughout a song when I am trying to listen. Then the song finishes and they suddenly stop talking and clap. Either shut up and listen and then clap, or if you have been talking, don’t clap. It is insulting to ignore the band and then clap like you’d been listening. Tossers.

14. Don’t start clapping during a break in the song when it clearly hasn’t finished
Sometimes as a song is building to a climax, there can be a break in lyric to add to the effect/impact - sometimes the break can come between the 3rd and 4th syllable of a word. Some people start clapping without understanding that the song hasn’t finished. This comes from either not listening or an over-eager desire to start clapping before anyone else does. If you are listening to the performance, then you won’t make the mistake. If you are not sure, then wait and see - don’t dive in. The same applies when attending classical music – if you are not sure, then let somebody else take the lead.


Some general rules about civilised behaviour.

15. Don’t ever shout out
Since when did gigs/shows become about you? The people performing have planned your entertainment and are prepared to perform what they prepared. Your shouting out adds nothing - quite the opposite, Shut up you morons.

16. Don’t shout out “We love you” ever (this is worthy of its own rule)
1) don’t use “we” when shouting out - I am not in your gang and don’t wish to be classified as any part of your world and 2) you love them? If you do, then that is wrong - you can like them and 3) what do you want as a result of this call? You think that the band will stop the gig and say that they are now going to go out for a drink with their new friend? Shut up idiots.

17. Don’t laugh at people who shout out
It’s bad enough that people shout out without you validating their behaviour by laughing and turning to look at them. You effectively encourage them and without realising become part of their gang - treat them like the idiots that they are and show no acknowledgement.

18. Don’t sing along
Unless encouraged by the performer, remember that others are there to listen to the artist and not you. Yes, you know the song - well done - but so do the majority of people who have chosen to listen to the artist. No - just because you paid, doesn’t mean that you can do whatever you like. Shut up.

19. Don’t talk
If the act is performing then why not hold on to your conversation until later - if it’s worth saying, then you’ll remember. You’ve paid to be there, so be there. Talking is rude to the act and the audience. Shut it.

20. Don’t Whistle
There is no valid reason/excuse for whistling at any time, but at a gig? Never!

21. Don’t spend ages trying to connect with people you know at a gig
This tends to apply to being at larger gigs and you know somebody else there. You are on the phone finding out where they are. Then you stand up and wave so that they can see you as you as you hold the phone to your ear and look around. Then they see you and you grin widely. What was all that about? You are standing in a large room both inanely grinning at each other with nothing to say. And you tap your partner on the shoulder and say “there’s John” and she grins too. Madness. What a pointless exercise.

22. Don’t start talking it up to show that you are their biggest fan
People who start telling everyone around you some obscure facts about the performer to show that they are a bigger fan than others are. And once you get the attention of a punter, you precede to bore them stupid about how in 1987 you saw the lead singer having a drink in a pub. Stop trying to impress. The other people there are also fans - this isn’t a competition you nerdy knobs.

23. Don’t shout out requests for songs
It’s a big concert and the act has planned their song list. They are performing it each night - it is a well oiled machine where the band, sound and lighting people all know what is to occur. So don’t stand there shouting out the name of a b-side from 1996 that nobody else cares about. They are not going to do anything other than what they have prepared, so keep quiet.


People at gigs have some strange eating habits that they wouldn’t usually do.

24: Don’t eat so much food
Not sure why people eat so much at gigs - more than they want to, need to or have thought about. But go to a big gig and suddenly it seems like eating is required to allow full enjoyment as an ingredient to the night. Regardless, at shows when it is quiet, why start rustling wrappers or worst of all, eat crisps? That is a big no-no and it is disappointing that people don’t know that already.

25: Don’t drink yourself stupid
It appears that for some people, live music = drink ridiculous amounts of booze. If we are going to a gig, let’s get pissed. If you want to be there, then booze is a) going to lessen the appreciating of the music/singing, b) going to reduce your social awareness and lead to over-loud talking and c) make you smell.


It is a shame that this is still something requiring mentioning.

26: Don’t have your phone on
Really? You still don’t check your phone? Do you ignore the request to check your phone? Do you not care? Phones going off is more annoying nowadays as it seems more and more ignorant.

27. Don’t answer a call
I have actually been at a gig when somebody took a call and used these words, “Yeah, I’m at a gig - no worries I can talk”. So wrong. First of all, the music will have alerted the caller as to where you were and secondly, no you can’t talk. It is rude and disrupting. If you’re there, then be there.

28: Don’t film too much
Sometimes it is great to capture a moment or two from a gig - to share with friends, capture a favourite song or remind you later. No worries on that, but when people hold the phone up - blocking the view of others - and film song after song ... no, not acceptable. Be present.

29. Don’t use your phone
When the lights are off and the show is on, don’t use your phone for checking emails, messages etc - the brightness is distracting and you really aren’t going to miss anything. Put it away.


Venues also have a responsibility to make the experience of a show as good as it can be.

30: Don’t be obscure about opening times
When selling tickets, some consistency on the time would be useful. There is one time specified - for some places that is when the doors open, for others it is when the main act starts. Generally, advertise a) doors open, b) support starts, c) main act starts, and d) end time. Sort yourselves out.

31: Don’t start gigs too late
Why do you think that it is a good idea for any gig to start later than 9pm? This is just a form of entertainment - like going to the movies or a play. Is it because “it’s rock and roll man”? I know from years of gig going and talking to many folk, that if music was more accessible and available to all, then audiences would grow. If it’s mid-week, then people have a choice to make about how late the show will go on. Or if it is at a weekend, then they need to arrange babysitters etc. Just make it friendly, clear and easy for all. I’m just saying.

32: Don’t hide the support acts
It is rare that somebody will choose to go to as gig for the support act - though it is a bonus when it is somebody that you like. And it is great when they are unknown to you but you like them. My gripe is around the timing - once again, it should be clearly advertised as to who the act is and what time they start. But worse is around how long they play for - this should be restricted to 30 minutes to allow the show to get going at a reasonable time - after all, it is the main act that people are there for.

33: Don’t have intervals
I appreciate that an interval allows the venue to make more money through everyone rushing to the bar and buying more booze etc - they need to make money. The issue I have is around how long intervals are and whether they are clearly advertised in regards to the time between the support and main acts. This is often a long time so just let us know and end time and whether that includes an interval or not. Don’t keep us in the dark - we have paid to be there.


34. Don’t try and coax others to dance
I know that people like to dance and I don’t mind, but don’t start calling others to dance or pressuring people to join in. Do your thing but respect others.


This is another old-time behaviour that is not necessary.

35. Don’t do encores
I am fed up with encores. I’ve paid for a gig and I want you to put on your best show and I will thank you afterwards. But don t pretend you’ve finished when you haven t. Don t write a set that includes your encore. Let s be honest with each other. You do the show and we will thank you.

36. Don’t drag out reappearance
Don’t make people stand there clapping for ages. We know you’re coming back because the lights haven’t come on – so come back quickly and don’t make us perform for you.


37. Don’t be too polished
It is only the very big acts who put on a smooth and tight show that is the same each night - these shows have no soul to them. We want personality. We want to feel that this is a show for us. Engage with the audience and make it a joint venture.