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Sunday, January 12, 2014

Etiquette At A Neil Young Concert

When Neil Young is Playing, You Shut the Fuck Up

Over the years, we've blogged on numerous occasions about etiquette at a Neil Young concert.

Sit vs Stand.


Smart Phone Etiquette.

Which brings us to last week's run at Carnegie Hall in New York City. The experience was marred for many by the obnoxious behavior of a few at the expense of the many.

Shouted requests. Clapping and singing. Incessant photos and videos and flashes. For the 1st 3 nights of the run this rude, selfish behavior was the norm. But by Friday night the ushers were out in force.

From a comment on Neil Young at Carnegie Hall in New York City - Friday, January 10, 2014 - Show #4 by Alfonz:
Flew in from Austin for the weekend. Fabulous show, fantastic venue. I stayed away from setlists beforehand. Hearing some songs like Someday, Out of My Mind, A Man Needs a Maid, Journey, pump organ Mr Soul, etc. were genuine surprises. Afterwards wished he had played After The Gold Rush and Long May You Run, but that is a minor quibble.

As for security ... good on them. I loved it. You don't need to take a photo. I guarantee it will be grainy, shit and never looked at in the future.

Regarding some comments above ... people do NOT respect a polite message to refrain. The only thing which kind of works is threat of ejection and security enforcement.

And the individual act of a security guard flashing their light at someone to stop ... that one time might be more distracting(to some, not me) than one photo ... but it stops so many more distracting photos being taken.

I hate what phones have done to the concert going performance. If I was an artist I would go one step further ... give people a grace period of the first 2 songs, and then any photo after that and you are immediately ejected with no warning.

As for post #4 anonymous ... I don't think Neil was cranky at all. You paint the wrong picture of his state of mind. I have never seen him talk to the audience as much, he was very jovial and funny, and it was a pleasant surprise ... as he usually just plays all his songs with little/no verbal interaction with the audience. His little spiels in between songs made the show that much more engaging
Thanks Alfonz!

That sums it up pretty well. We're in complete disagreement post #4 anonymous and their sense of entitlement and privilege. Yes, h/she paid a lot of money for their ticket but so did everyone else.

Our opinion is that Neil handled all of the disruption appropriately.

Lastly, before the Friday concert, there was an announcement about cell phones being disrespectful to both the artists and audience. The announcement was met by wide applause.

So just remember, When Neil Young is Playing, You Shut the Fuck Up
UPDATE: 1/13/14

From FORBES - A Digital-Life Lesson: How Steve Jobs Almost Ruined Neil Young by Todd Essig:
The simple fact is that the mind can’t be in two places at once. Attention is finite, experience bounded. So-called multi-tasking is at best rapid task shifting. We’re always robbing Peter to pay Paul. It’s like the title of the Firesign Theater album popular in 1970 when Neil Young first played Carnegie Hall, “How Can You Be In Two Places At Once When You’re Not Anywhere At All?” When you document rather than fully experience a moment you block your own access to the depths of feeling, memory, and yearning the moment offers. You may think you are augmenting reality. You are not. You are degrading experience. You lose.

When you experience an event through a brightly illuminated screen you are also going to annoy the other people around you. Some people don’t want to be continually distracted by bright rectangular lights prancing around their field of vision. So unless you want to be a selfish jerk, shut it down sometimes.

Finally, there’s respect for the artist. Of course, some “geezer rock” shows really are photo-op celebrations of what once was. Creating a digital monument might actually be the best those moments offer. Nothing wrong with that. I’ve been to some, and will probably go to go to more in the future. But this was not that. This was a real musician (albeit a 68 year old one who has been around for 50+ years) playing real music. The setting announced it: 8 acoustic guitars, a banjo, two pianos, and an old pump organ. Young’s history of unpredictable creativity attested to it. In fact, the only way to miss the creativity of the evening was if you were so busy documenting it that you removed yourself from the actuality of the moment. So, give artists the respect they deserve.

The lesson is this: the next time a program requests you to turn off your phone you might want to actually turn it off. Remember, you, your fellow audience members, and the artists will all be better off if you do.

And if you decide it’s your phone and you’ll do with it whatever you darn well please try to remember that except for your now well-documented bragging rights (“I was there … see!”), you might as well have just stayed home relating to the world through your screens.

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At 1/12/2014 04:18:00 PM, Anonymous Cherie Munster said...

Ushers and Security should play harder rules in concert halls. One has no idea, how much the artist spends on keeping tag of production cost. They pay so much out of pocket dollars to produce one special night. Guest spend many dollars to get to the location, show tickets, travel expense along with all the sitters that watch your house and children for one special evening. Respect should be given to make every show, one big win situation. Many private venues will announce, no video and audio recording during the event. Some print it on your tickets, along with signs on property. Perhaps, if one is caught during the show, filming, the artist should walk over and ask the guest, if they have everything they need. Then hand them a bill, to cover all the hidden cost. ~Cherie Munster, Music Entertainment Writer, Covington, Louisiana~

At 1/12/2014 05:38:00 PM, Anonymous Thomas Violagis said...

People have the balls to complain about repeated set lists.....are u all stupid?....every tour the man has something to say....his set is based on his feelings and what he wants to say to u all...I could not afford to see these shows and it truly broke my heart.....I could listen to Neil play the same songs 50 nights in a row and I'd be blessed....for all u know, he was recording the shows for a live play the same songs every night so he can choose the best performances for the perfect cd....I only have had the honor of seeing him 50 or 60 times in my life....wether it was trans, greendale, blue notes, international harvesters, crazy horse, booker t and the Mg's or solo......he always is fucking amazing on his worst night!....U jaded people should stay home instead of having the balls to complain...he is truly magic, always......I love this man...he's brought me great joy in this life and healed my broken heart with his magic playing, singing and personality...and what his songs have to say...we are blessed that he is still a healthy man doing HIS thing.....u should feel lucky to have seen these shows the way he wanted u too...Get your heads out of your asses.....respect this man...He is my hero
The world is such a better place because he's on it
Thomas Violagis

At 1/12/2014 05:51:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

dave from Vancouver wa. couldn't have said it better.....that's how I feel also....NEIL and only NEIL.....

At 1/12/2014 06:03:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've got quite a story to share from Tuesday...

My seat was in the first row of the 3rd tier ($150), and all was well until the guy in the seat next to me showed up. He was absolutely HAMMERED. He falls into his seat and says, "hey, was i just drinking with you at the bar?" No.

"Are you gonna come drink with me later?" No.

I could tell this guy was going to be trouble. I told him, don't be shouting out during the concert, Neil doesn't want to hear it, and I don't want to hear it.

Show starts, From Hank to Hendrix, he starts singing along, off-key, of course. I give him a polite "shhh". He's quiet for about 15 seconds, then starts talking to me, again I give him a polite "shhh".

Song ends, instead of clapping, he starts banging his fist on the railing as if he was at a hockey game and his team just scored.

2nd song starts, On the Way Home, he doesn't know it and is mostly quiet.

3rd song, Only Love Can Break Your Heart, "Oh I love this song" he says, and again starts singing along, loud and off key. At this point my patience is gone. "hey, shut up, will ya?" I say to him. He pounds his fist on the railing and then folds his arms like a petulant child.

Then I catch a break, he passes out cold during the next song! He stays passed out for the rest of that set, through the entire intermission, and up until A Man Needs a Maid.

Then he wakes up, starts grunting strangely, and stands up. I will remind you that we are in the first row of the 3rd tier. He starts wobbling and is seriously in danger of falling over the railing, killing himself and probably someone else in the process. People around us start gasping, sensing the danger. I say, "hey, sit down, you're going to fall". At that point he turns back and hits me in the face with the back of his hand, fairly hard, and then gives me a push!

That's it. I grab him by the back of his jacket, and throw him down back into his seat.

By that point, the woman behind me had gone for security, and then I did the same. We explained what happened, and security threw him out. Our section was then able to enjoy the rest of the show in peace.

After the show I spoke to the manager and told him I was the guy who got hit by the drunken fool. He apologized and asked if I wanted to file a police report, I said no. He then offered me a comp ticket for an upcoming Carnegie Hall performance. I said, "how about Neil on Thursday?"

He said ok, and I saw the Thursday show from a great seat, surrounded by quiet, respectful fans, and we all had a great time!

The Carnegie Hall staff was very professional and helpful in handling the situation. I'm sure they don't deal with rowdy drunks too often at the Philharmonic!

The End

- vertigone

At 1/12/2014 07:13:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I saw Neil on the 1999 solo acoustic tour at MSG, there was a guy behind me -- last row of the venue for him, 2nd to last for me -- that puked on himself about 10 songs into the show and passed out. That was great, except for the smell of his vomit.

For all that are complaining about not being able to snap a cell phone picture: Come to Austin and see a taping of ACL. They'll boot you without a warning if you whip your phone out. They make announcements before the show, as you come in, on signage everywhere, etc.

Same for *most* shows now at the Moody Theater where they tape the ACL TV show. You whip our your camera, you get a warning. You keep it out, you get thrown out or your phone is confiscated. I wish more venues in Austin did this, because you can go see a little band with 30 other people.. and 27 of them are tweeting the entire show. Snap your single photo of the band, tag 'em, and then enjoy the show!

At 1/12/2014 07:17:00 PM, Blogger dee mac said...

Glad to hear how you were compensated vertigone!! Hats off to Carnegie staff!
I was at none of the shows but thanks to thrasherswheat and others I could sense the atmosphere and excitement.
I actually really appreciate the wee discreet video footage from the shows, when you are unable to be there these snippets really help to make you feel as if you are experiencing and supporting a little of the artisc event.
So I think folk should be allowed to video a little (discreetly-no above your head filming etc ).
Flash phone pics-No.
Discreet no flash not-above-your-head phone pics, I think maybe.
Maybe. (?)
They can be distracting though for the spectators sitting beside you, so not sure.

As for the boisterous boozed up nightmare.

At 1/12/2014 07:27:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

I flew up with my Father from Florida for the Thursday and Friday shows. Thursday was an absolute circus!!! we sat in the second row and for 80% of the concert i had to look at multiple phones in front of me. The most disturbing point was when this jackass in front of us decided to "facetime" his buddy during fotgiw. Very pleased with how security handled things on Friday though. I do not understand why you would pay money to see a concert live then watch it on your iphone as you are recording. Live in the moment people! Shows were amazing though. great trip

At 1/12/2014 07:43:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There was an incident in Atlanta on the Greendale tour…people were talking during Bandit and he stop playing it mid way and said "I once played an acoustic show in Vegas, they talked thru the way thing…glad to see there's a little Vegas here tonight." My friend and I drove 5 hours without tickets and ended up in the front row center…(radio giveaways that weren't given away, we bought them at the box office!) We stood up a majority of the show which pissed a lot of people off but we were digging it and Neil was bending down playing to us…hell he ended up throwing us 5 pages of Greendale lyrics from his teleprompter!

At 1/12/2014 08:44:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Standing through an entire concert in the front row of a seated concert is rude too. There are a lot of older folks that go to see Neil Young, and some of them have a hard time standing for an entire concert, especially if they've had to stand through work and walk around all day. You're not much better than the "talkers" at concerts.


At 1/12/2014 08:45:00 PM, Anonymous Tony said...

I attended 2 shows and the audience was "well behaved".

Listen to Rust Radio and compare any other NY concert to the Carnegie Hall shows and I think you'll agree.

The biggest "controversy" was when NY asked the audience not to clap-in-time, and with good reason — due to the acoustics of CH, the audience was a beat behind ("There's a lot of distance between us"), and this would effect NY's timing (as would any solo artist)

Any shouts of "I Love you Neil" were between songs during breaks, as were most shout-out requests. Is this really any different than applause? Or are we not allowed to applaud after a song?

At 1/12/2014 08:59:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you attend a NY&CH show and have GA tickets, you better be standing :)

At 1/12/2014 09:04:00 PM, Blogger Phil said...

I find this fascinating ... etiquette when attending a Neil Young concert ... I am 63 and became a fan right off the bat with first BS album .. I think in 1963 he would have begged folks to bring wahtever capture devices to the concert to get the word out ... :-)

But .. flash forward a few years and Neil morphed into the artist that appeared drunk and stone on stage and di what he wanted to do ... included a complete 80s catalog dedicated to none other than pissing Mr. Geffen off ...

Flash forward a few more years and he takes this same philosophy to the stage .. performing new material to the exclusion of anything the audience is familiar with ...

Flash forward a few more and he is now doing something he said he would never do ... a greatest hits show ...

Neil is Neil ... he does what he wants, when he wants to amuse and keep himself engaged ...

So appears it's do as I say not do as I do when it comes to the studio and stage ... it's art when he does .. when we do it .. .the fan doing it .. well, it's obnoxious ...

For the love of god ... it's 2014 ... people are going to be doing this .. like it or not can't stop it ... in 50 years, the recording and grainy photos will be loved and embraced as much as the archives are today ...

Etiquette ... just do what you are moved to do at the concert ... enjoy it ... and challenge the artist the way he challenges you ... :-)

At 1/12/2014 09:37:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've got a picture of Crazy Horse playing Mr Soul taken from the rail. I cropped it and had it printed on a 16 x 24 piece of canvas and it hangs behind my recliner next to the Alchemy poster in my den. It's an epic picture and I enjoy it every day. Some times I just stare at it and go Driftin Back. It's a precious gift it is.

Thrasher, I bet you took that Mr Soul pic you've got hanging from Germany too, didn't ya?! Come on, fess up! We certainly weren't a nuisance to get it. Those colorful lights filled up those big Fender amps and it was a photo op if there every was one.

But I do sympathize with the people who can't stop. I have to force myself to put my camera away at times. It's like a sickness. And I know the pics are going to look like shit, unless you're on the rail of course! I'm better now at snapping a few and putting it away but a lot of people are still fighting this illness. They're all around us!! So annoying. Just announce and enforce and people will put the shit away right quick!

Thomas Violalgis, you said it best!! Thank you for that. I love it when other people put my feelings into words.

God Bless Neil Young

Negative Man

At 1/12/2014 10:04:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Better yet, allow one photo op. Everybody get yer camera's out and snap the fuck away! And then that's it. Put them the hell up.

But this doesn't apply to the bootleggers with microphones in your shoes. You guys keep up the excellent work!!

Negative Man

At 1/13/2014 03:11:00 PM, Anonymous nemouse said...

On sit vs. stand. I was at the Chrome Dreams tour show at United Palace Theatre. Awesome show. Generally all good in terms of the crowd. I'm happy doing whatever the crowd does, in this case mostly sitting. But during No Hidden Path, all were sitting, except for two people several rows in front of me, directly in my line of sight. Literally, they were the only ones standing, and they knew it. I honestly would have been perfectly happy standing, but that really would have been disrespectful to those around me. So I ended up hearing an awesome live version of No Hidden Path, but I can't say I really saw it. Sometimes it's just about common sense and respect.

In terms of the smart phones, a few pictures are fine, but when there is a sea of phones held in the air to record a video, it's just plain silly and really does kill the vibe. It's like people have become lemmings and are addicted to recording (and sharing) everything. The point no longer is about being there in the moment. I'm sure Neil or any artist sees and feels this, so the frustration is understandable.

At 1/13/2014 04:46:00 PM, Blogger Atom Smasher said...

Thrasher et al might call people out for filming concerts on their phones, but you're not so bothered by them that you won't post those videos on your blog as soon as they appear on Youtube, are you?

At 1/13/2014 06:49:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Saw Neil during Silver and Gold tour in Portland, Ore. He stopped mid-song and asked everyone to stop clapping along. Threw his rhythm off. Said we were the whitest audience he'd ever seen.

At 1/13/2014 07:34:00 PM, Blogger SONY said...

Yeah, it's always a treat to be surrounded by bores who put their own want's and desires above courtesy and proper etiquette. To have to listen to loud conversations thru songs, people standing up all night doing the same stupid dance to every song, and drunks being loud and obnoxious. Yes, these times are such a joy.

At least the Crazy Horse shows have open festival seating for those who want to stand and close in on the rail. I applaud you all for those times. Personally, I'm there to absorb the intimacy of the song and the delivery of the artist - NEIL FUCKING YOUNG - and to be enveloped by the music. Thankfully the CH shows are generally loud enough to drown out the BS.

At solo shows I barely talk to anyone, including who I go with. They know it's gonna be that way. I'll be moving my feet and body all night as I'm trying to catch the uninterrupted vibe in all it's glory, not pay attention to anything else. Yeah, am I a bore at that point? Maybe, but I'll buy ya a drink at halftime and rock with ya before and after all ya want. But Neil is like EF Hutton to me, when he's playing I'm listening. That's it.

SO if Ihear ya getting in the way at a solo Neil show you're gonna hear from me right away.

At 1/13/2014 08:05:00 PM, Anonymous Johan said...

Far be it from me to tell Neil Young how to conduct a concert but why doesn't he just take a break between the first and second song each night and politely ask the audience not to take pictures or yell out requests or record the show or text everyone on earth to tell them how cool the concert is. Most people are too clueless to know and I have to point out that this very site is full of pictures and videos taken at his concerts and every night's setlist is texted live to these pages by people who supposedly appreciate his music so obviously he can't expect everyone to know the 'rules' without him mentioning them.

At 1/13/2014 10:15:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

@Atom Smasher - it's a fair point and at the risk of being called the dreaded "hypocrite" word, we'll try and be concise.

There's a time and place for everything. As you may know, we're all about being discrete. Without getting into too much detail, we've got a bit of a clue about how some of the "pros" pull this off.

IOW, folks bring back quality stuff without anyone around them having the slightest clue.

So if you're going to take a souvenir, be discrete, that's all we're saying.

As for what we use here at TW, we have no idea whether the file was captured discretely or blatantly.

Obviously fans have always wanted to have as much of the experience as they can and we try and be judicious about what we do and don't publish, as you know.

We're just trying to share the memories. ;)

At 1/14/2014 09:57:00 AM, Blogger asg said...

"just do what you are moved to do at the concert"

well, some people are "moved" to be assholes...what's so cool about that? just askin'

At 1/14/2014 04:09:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My lord; some of you prudes are such self-righteous bores; shall we have prune juice and ear plugs delivered to your overpriced seats; when all is said and done, we're talking about a folk/pop/rock concert; it ain't the London Symphony folks; there is nothing wrong with clapping, taking pictures, and drinking at a pop concert! The baby boomers are showing their cranky, geriatric colours! Stop whining about the lively, colorful people around you and enjoy the awesome music. If you want silence, go to your local library; if you want rules and regulations, join the military; if you want to just hear Neil stay at home and listen to his records!!!!

At 1/14/2014 08:41:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

So these cell phones and rich folks who can afford the big bucks for prime seating distract me from what I am doing and make me feel like I am on display in a museum.- Neil Young, Waging Heavy Peace; pg.134. Neil goes on to say that's why he has strongly preferred festival seating. I must say, that particular seating arrangement has made for the very best Live Neil Young experiences I've ever enjoyed. Up front, absorbing the acoustic expressions and in back during the "plugged". Then I could dance till my feet no longer could identify a floor beneath them...


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