My stubborn concert mantra has long been that “you can much more easily move than try to get someone to STFU during your favorite, quiet song.” Every concert might be someone’s first date. Or last date. Especially for a venue with the four-digit capacity of The Anthem.
And yet, the volume of chatter throughout this entire show, no matter how near or far from the stage I searched for a place to stand, just defies all sense of decency. I really don’t mind what anyone else does in a visual or spatial sense: dance, make out, nudge me to move so that you can pass by with your double fisted gin and tonics, take photos or snap or insta-story (in fact, I enjoy watching those short-form, real-time streams of concert footage on those anonymous periscoping black mirrors).
Also, last dates are generally quietly telegraphed with cold blinking demanding to leave before the encore.
But at a certain sample size, every song has to be someone’s favorite, worthy of respect. So where is the social contract of polite concert going? When did it get torn up, burnt, and its ashes buried in unmarked graves? Did it ever exist, was it ever signed in the first place? Was it just magical thinking that a concert is predicated on listening?
The frontman, Ben Schneider, mentioned early in the set — to get it out of the way — that this was their largest headlining gig so far. It’s a special kind of charming to enjoy a musician’s earnest gratitude (and desiring to comment on it) for literally stepping onto a bigger stage.
After the show let out I experimented with taking Uber’s latest “express” offering back to Shaw. Essentially it’s like the carpooling feature with some extra walking involved, which generates interesting algorithmic serendipities, but front-loads the pickup of multiple trips to a single spot. Which is brilliant if you aren’t exactly in a rush (to, I don’t know, let’s say write a blog post at 11:30pm), and possibly more efficient when hundreds of people are all hailing rideshares from the same quarter-mile stretch of waterfront property. But when my driver is on his speakerphone trying to find the other part of the group, I end up giving them directions to the car, and it provides an interesting sense of communal passage: the sooner they find the car, the sooner we all get home to our blog posts or whatever. And then on that ride, I comment on how it’s a wild sign of change that VHS tracking glitches on the band’s background videos are a new nostalgic aesthetic, like the imperfect artifacts of super-8 lens flares and light bleeds and grain were in previous decades.
But I don’t think they had been listening or watching during the show.