If you’re new to making music or are just plain aloof, it might seem like the world of live music is a free-for-all where bands and their fans can do whatever they want, but that attitude is a classic hallmark of being “that guy” when it comes to shows. Music scenes are sort of like elephants in the way that they seem to remember even the smallest details about musicians and how they conduct themselves publicly, so what you do at shows is actually really important whether you’re performing or not. Here’s a few of the more prominent “that guy” traits that every musician should avoid:
Talking over someone’s set
You hate it when people talk during your performances, right? So why would you do it to other musicians? “That guy” draws attention away from the stage and hogs it all to himself when he talks over a band’s set. Reasons why anyone would talk through a band’s performance range from drunkenness to boredom, but it takes on a whole new level of disrespect when it’s a musician doing it to another musician. If you’re looking for an easy way for everyone in your local scene to not ever want to work with you, this is a good way to do it.
Taking your time removing your equipment off of the stage
Respectful musicians remove their stuff off stage after a performance as soon as possible, and failing to do so will downgrade you to “that guy” status instantaneously. It only makes sense that during the post-show period musicians are tired, filled with emotion, and want to talk to fans, but it’s hugely disrespectful for bands to take their sweet time loading off when other musicians are eagerly waiting to play. And even if you’re headlining, leaving your stuff on stage too long after the show will keep the venue staff waiting because they can’t leave and pack up their equipment until you do.
Being an obnoxious drunk
Whether you like it or not, drinking is a big part of live music. It’s a way for people to have fun and a huge source of revenue for venues. Most musicians and audience members do fine with alcohol, but it only takes a few bad actors to ruin it for everyone. It can be hard for performing musicians not to drink too much at shows because there’s so much time between loading in and performing. But being loud, rude, and drunk at shows will earn you a bad reputation in a jiffy. This applies whether you’re wasted in the audience or during your own performance. If you’re eager to party, try waiting until the music portion of the evening is over. And if you’re a performing musician, this means waiting until your equipment is off the stage. Everyone from the venue staff to the other bands performing that night will thank you for it.
Patrick McGuire is a musician, writer, and educator currently residing in the great city of Philadelphia. He creates music under the name Straight White Teeth, and has a great affinity for dogs and putting his hands in his pockets.