www.stillisstillmoving.com I am inspired by the wonderful Willie Nelson

September 8, 2010

To sit or to Stand? (at a Willie Nelson concert, I’d rather stand)

Filed under: Fans,News and Reviews — LindaLee @ 11:39 pm

Willie Nelson at Columbia, MO (5/20/2009)  photo by Valerie Mosley

by Michael Deeds

To sit? Or to stand? That is the age-old question.

Based on Letters to the Editor submitted to the Idaho Statesman this morning about Tuesday night’s Willie Nelson concert at the Idaho Botanical Garden, the debate won’t end anytime soon.

When about 200 concertgoers in front of the stage at Outlaw Field decided to stand rather than sit, fans directly behind them reportedly went a little berserk.

“When the sitters realized the standers weren’t going to sit back down, they started causing trouble,” concertgoer Casey O’Connell of Boise wrote me in an e-mail. “There were both whispers and shouts for people to sit down, or ‘Down in front!,’ and some of the sitters actually got up and started approaching the standers to ask them to be seated.

“I appreciate that many of the attendees have been Willie Nelson fans longer than I have been alive,” O’Connell continued, “but the fact is that their rude behavior and shouting was very distracting and upsetting. My husband and I remained seated because we didn’t want to get into a confrontation — that’s not what we go to concerts for. But that meant that we couldn’t see, either.”

“So what’s the etiquette for sitters vs. standers here?” O’Connell asks.

Etiquette is that people self-regulate at concerts and consider whether they’re spoiling the night for others. That said, standing is universally viewed at concerts as acceptable behavior. That’s the risk you take when you buy a ticket.

Which doesn’t make it any easier to accept.

“Drove 140 miles, spent $150, submitted to a search of all belongings and a check that our chairs were short enough, all to get in to see Willie Nelson at the Idaho Botanical Garden…,” Bonnie Stacy of Jerome writes in a Letter to the Editor. “Paying that kind of money to look at people’s backsides is not acceptable. Maybe the Botanical Garden will learn, but I for one, will not be back to find out.”

Greg Marchant, vice-president and COO of promoter Knitting Factory Entertainment, says staff repeatedly asked standing fans to sit down at the packed Nelson show, which sold out at the gate and was attended by about 3,900 people. When fans wouldn’t sit, well, it created a dilemma: “We can’t control the rude behavior of some people,” Marchant says. “You’re talking about the etiquette and courtesy of people. That’s often times impossible to mandate.”

“Our industry addresses crowd management regarding standing in a ‘majority rules’ format,” Marchant says. “If a few folks want to dance and block the view of others, we will approach them and kindly ask them to sit down. Conversely, if a large portion of the audience chooses to stand — whether they want to dance or they’re just excited — we will allow them to.”

It’s not like security can eject 200 people in front of the stage for having a good time. On the other hand, if upset fans behind them begin yelling or acting confrontational, well, that could be grounds for an escort out the gate.

Marchant says Knitting Factory and the Botanical Garden hope to bring some solutions to the table for next season.

All I can say is good luck.

It’s too bad Nelson didn’t address the situation. Maybe, at 77, he just didn’t notice. In the past, I’ve seen performers on stage — Rod Stewart, for example — encourage fans to sit down during slower songs as a way of policing their own crowds.

Still, to reiterate: Standing at a concert, though arguably rude, is not against the rules.

It’s shocking how people sometimes behave at concerts, but you have to bear in mind: Many are extremely excited to see their hero on stage. And alcohol is often involved.Read more:


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