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Classic Rock

Iris Harrison's Blog


Sitting or Standing Sections at Concerts...Would it work?

For a while, I thought it was me. I thought I attracted the weirdness that happens in a venue while trying to enjoy a concert by one of my favorite artists. I've blogged about this before because it seems to keep happening to me, but after the Eric Clapton show at the Rose Garden Arena, I think it's something on many people’s minds. We all enjoy a rock concert in different ways, and there's a certain kind of concert etiquette that has mostly made for a fun night of rock and roll. Last night something went very wrong, and it all had to do with the issue of sitting or standing during the show. My son (who had never seen EC) and I sat in section 101, row H, and had a wonderful view of the stage and the huge screen. We were near the aisle so during Los Lobos there was a constant parade of people trying to navigate those awkward stairs at the Rose Garden in the dark...with beer. We watched one guy with approximately $32 worth of beer desperately trying to balance the beverages down to the floor. He made it. Remember the Memorial Coliseum? They had places to buy beverages if you were on the floor, and you didn't have to climb stairs. What a concept! Not only are the stairs uneven at the Rose Garden Arena(I saw several people who were quite sober almost do a head first fall down the stairs when they missed one of those places where the stair length and depth was against the normal gait) but the rows are not clearly marked on the cement with big letters, which would help people find their place without having to either equip themselves with a flashlight, or stop and take a guess at what row they are in. If you’re in a theater and they are getting close to show time, there’s a little hint with a light flicker, or an audio cue (ding) to tell you that the show is ready to start. This rarely happens at a rock show. I guess the powers-that-be figure you’ll hear the music start because it’s so loud, but by that time the lights are down and there’s stumbling and bumbling as people rush to get into the seat that they have paid dearly for, carrying beer, nachos, and all the cold weather gear that they wore into the arena. The opening act has become the soundtrack for finding your seat in the dark. That’s pretty much it. Here’s an idea…come to the entry where the nice person with the vest and flashlight is waiting to show you where your seat is, take a little listen, and at that point decide if you REALLY want to go into the show and sit down for the opening act. If so, let someone help you to your seat unless you have memorized the seating chart for the Rose Garden Arena and have a flashlight yourself. Oh, and wear a vest and help someone else too while you’re at it. If the music or artist is not your cup of tea, or you just feel like another beer or nachos means more than the opening act, then stay in the concourse. I swear I saw several people stumble their way to their seats, make people stand up, and get all settled in during the last song of the opening act. Isn’t it nice that it was all about them during the last song? Hope you REALLY didn’t want to see Los Lobos as much as I did. It was much better standing up for you and having that full beer splash on my purse. Part of the problem is the fact that the rows of seats are squished so close together that even if you stand up, and weigh no more than 130 pounds (male or female) you will touch the person trying to move by you in ways that you would not want to be touched by a stranger yourself (unless it’s in a letter to Penthouse). It’s unavoidable. Those rows are ridiculous. I’m only 5’4” and my knees hit the back of the seat in front of me when I’m sitting down, unless I’m on the floor, or in the section way up in the 3rd level where the steep angles have the chair backs down by your feet. I’ve been up there once and had a vision of falling that left me shaken and stirred for days. So, here we are at break time. The lights are up and it’s easier to find your seat. Finally people are finding their way into the show. They’ve bought the beer, they visited the bathroom, and are ready to see Eric Clapton. Here’s where the real fun begins. Clapton is such a rock legend, that I’m surprised that his last name isn’t also a synonym for “guitar.” I’ve seen the man in concert six times now, and I’d heard from others who saw the show in Seattle that it was going to be a great night of music from this icon…this master of the blues and rock. It truly was. He came on stage wearing a plaid shirt, jeans, comfy shoes and a three day growth of beard. I loved it. He smiled, he opened with “Key to the Highway” and I knew we were off to a great evening of music. During any show, with the exception of metal and grunge on the hard end and chamber music or soft jazz on the mellow end, there’s going to be a varied pace of fast and slow songs. The typical concert etiquette is that when the music is moving along, it’s fine to stand up and do that “in place concert dance” thing that people do. Then when it’s a slow song, everyone sits down and takes a load off. It used to be that the only offenders to this unwritten rule were usually so drunk they didn’t know what the song tempo is because they are moving to the beat of their own drummer which has nothing to do with the actual concert on the stage. This old chestnut of the past is obviously no longer followed because there were people standing up, doing the head bob, butt shake, and fist wave during the whole show. Yes, even the slow songs. This is usually fine and accepted behavior if you are either surrounded by other like-minded beings, or in a “pit” area such as the one Bruce Springsteen always has in front of the stage with no chairs. Last night there were seats everywhere, and everyone had a different plan. The concert tickets cost a lot of good money, and this isn’t exactly an economy that allows for a crapload of expendable income to be thrown at shows, and I think that everyone should have the most wonderful concert experience that is possible. So here’s my plan. Designated sections for standing or sitting. It’s kind of like the old days when there was smoking and non-smoking sections, only applied to the way you like to enjoy your concert...standing and dancing, or sitting and politely clapping. Your choice. Speaking of smoking, I also vaguely remember the whole concert experience being much more pleasant all around me when there was a sticky sweet smell and an ever present cloud overhead once the lights went down. Just sayin’. The drama of the sitting people yelling at the dancers to “sit down,” and the dancers yelling back at the people who’s view they were blocking and some interesting finger gestures did add to the visual effects of the show, but I could have done without it. Then if the “sitters” didn’t get the results that they wanted, they went to get the nice person with the vest to point to the “dancers” with a flashlight. If the “dancers” still wouldn’t sit down, then the “man in the suit” was brought in to do….well, I don’t know what because the “dancers” pretty much kept on dancing. This whole arena ballet was distracting during a song that I wanted to watch, but it did give me a theme for this blog. Sitting or standing? “Aye, there’s the rub” as Shakespeare said. “When we have shuffled off this mortal coil” just how many people have we pissed off? Let’s just make it better for everyone. Sitting section, standing section. Your choice. See you at the next show.

03/01/2011 12:42PM
Sitting or Standing Sections at Concerts...Would it work?
Please Enter Your Comments Below
03/01/2011 1:03PM
Ricky Yeager
An interesting but important blog Iris! Personally I think ANY concert that is performed a person should have the right to stand and enjoy the concert the whole night/day if he or she sees fit. Have I had from time to time a person that is 'a little tall' and I can't see? Sure I have but they paid for a ticket as well and who am I to complain? If regards to the sitting and standing sections... sure I'm game. But, with my luck I would get the only seats available for a show to 'sit only' and when I want to stand up and ROCK ON, I can't?! Not good. I think the reason rock concerts were invented in the first place was for the fan to enjoy themselves the way they feel best respresents them in the moments of the show!
03/01/2011 1:07PM
Kathleen Hopson
Excellent idea Iris! as our conversation we had earlier, they need to take their Geritol, and shut the hell up! Why even bother to go, if all they are going to do is bitch. I bet they even had earplugs in!! Why even go to a concert? Do they not remember then they were young, dancing at a concert? These people disgust me, as they ACT THEIR AGE! To this day, I do dance, who doesn't? Get your groove on to the music. HAVE FUN!!! If I ever age my age, please, shoot me!! I am 56, yes, I do not, and will not age my age.. I enjoy my music, and I enjoy it loud, louder the better. Old folks, stay home, in your easy chair. Please!
03/01/2011 2:44PM
Every performer loves to see the crowd on their feet, having a great time, but there is still a thing called "common courtesy," which doesn't seem so common anymore. And of course, everyone loves to watch the stupid drunk who shouldn't even be out in public, fall down, curse, and not give a damn that there are other people there. It sure would be nice if people could return to an age of manners and courtesy, which we all know isn't being taught in homes or schools anymore. It has come down to "me, and to hell with everyone else."
03/02/2011 5:16AM
Ken Van Pelt
A comment about "unconnected" attendees.... I have been fortunate to have been able to attend all of the Mark & Brian appearances here in Portland. Many of them involved winning tickets from KGON. At the shows, it has been disappointing to find out the most of the attendees don't even listen to the show. They are associated with the many sponsors of the station and were simply given the tickets. I had a similar experience at the Clapton concert several years ago with a group behind me who obviously didn't even know who Clapton was. When I asked them,finally, to be quiet and listen to the music they bitched at me and then left in a huff. The other Clpaton fans around me applauded.......... I understand having to take care of the sponsors... they keep the station going... but they do so because we, the fans, listen to the station and WANT to go to these events. ok.. off of my soap box now. Thank you for your patience....
03/02/2011 9:46AM
This is a hot topic indeed. I posted it on Facebook and got all kinds of responses. From people who want to sit and from those who want to stand and dance. Everyone had a valid point, which brings me back to my question about having sitting and standing sections. The phrase "why can't we all just get along" comes to mind on this topic, but EVERYONE feels like they spent a lot of money and time to get to the event and should be allowed to enjoy the show. When you factor not only the high price of the ticket, the service charge, the parking fee, dinner (maybe), babysitter (again, maybe), beverages, and swag ($35 for a t-shirt!?) it's a very expensive evening and I understand the frustration on both sides.
03/04/2011 6:46AM
Heather Kennedy
Hear hear!! You have it spot on regarding the "Designated sections for standing or sitting". I hate spending bucks on people I paid to see, but can't since I'm 5'6, and can't see over the dancers.
03/09/2011 5:14AM
John S
Sitting, Standing, I will do either as needed. Last summer at the Heart concert I was comfortably seated in the 200 section along with everyone else in that section and then these three women found there way to the rail in front of that section and juststayed there. After 20 minutes and some heated discussion from the people directly behind these women who seriously needed to grow up and learn how to dance, they were finally removed from the isle by security. 8)
06/20/2015 1:34PM
Some can't stand - sitting sections are needed
Good blog. May I add: Many, with invisible disabilities cannot stand, or at least not for very long. It is agonizing for them to sit and stare at the backs of dancing standing concert-goers and rarely see the performer or even the stage or band. I am ona mission to help the sitters (who are still enthusiastic and rocking-to-the-music in their seats) have a section or two so they can get their money's worth and be on equal 'standing' with the rest of the crowd.
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