The courtesy of concerts

Molly Schreiber

This past Sunday, a friend and I drove out to Brooklyn to see the iconic and elusive band, Pavement. The legendary group, playing at the gorgeous Williamsburg Waterfront, was both prompt and powerful, delivering a professional and engaging show.

Dutifully rushing the stage at 8:15 p.m., Pavement played a focused set of 25 songs. Opening with “Cut Your Hair” and finishing with “Range Life,” Pavement truly lived up to their epic reputation. While the music itself was spectacular, the experience was less than stellar.

Perhaps it was the exhaustion that ensues after a series of Parents’ Weekend parties and unfamiliar Villanova tailgates, but the crowd was unbearable; the gaggles of hipsters simply refused to stop talking.

So instead of surrendering to the awe that comes from witnessing a truly groundbreaking band, I found myself focused on trying to ignore the aggressively chatty concertgoers.

As I stood to the right side of the stage, wedged between a bearded man bellowing something about his connections with NYPD and a teenage boy scoffing at the girls behind us, my irritation swelled. Why go to a concert if you aren’t there to hear the music?

As music fans, we’ve all had this experience. We get to our venue of choice, stake out our perfect spot and prepare ourselves for the upcoming experience. Suddenly, a man or woman (probably much taller than you) weasels his or her way directly in front of you. With the stage blocked and the music interrupted, you can’t help but be confused. Yes, they spent money on tickets, but do they really deserve to be there?

I’ve always likened concertgoing to a semi-religious experience. If you choose to attend a concert, you silently acknowledge that certain rules apply. As a member of the audience, you promise to defer to the conductors of ceremonies mounted upon the stage. You agree to refrain from unnecessary chatter and irreverent interruption.

At the risk of sounding absurd, I ask my readers: have these rules died out? Has the age of auto-tune deafened the ears of concertgoers?

Of course, sporadic chatter or echoes of enthusiasm are allowed, even encouraged, by fellow concertgoers and band members. When it came to the Pavement show, however, there was no such thing as moderation. By the middle of the set, we were fuming.

Just as Pavement had done in 1999, we decided to break up with the rest of the crowd. Sacrificing our up-close positions, we fell to the back of the audience in hopes of finding a purer sound and fewer talkers. What we lost in proximity, we gained in substantiality, reminding us that, ultimately, it’s all about the music.