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A Call to Everlasting Arms

| Thursday, November 20, 2014

everlasting-arms-webSusan Zhu | The Observer
“Kids are all standing with their arms folded tight.”

Cool kids are the worst. I mean, look at ‘em, chillin’ with their Zunes or whatever next to the thrift store that remained underground post-Macklemore. They’re better than you, they’re deeper than you and they have way more sophisticated taste in music than you. Surely, these cool kids are in their element at concerts, where the only other kids around have a good taste in music and their favorite band is rocking their socks off on stage.


They’re all standing there with their arms folded tight, too cool to express emotion or any sort of interest in the world around them. So often at indie concerts, the crowd acts like a tranquilized Kanye West — awkwardly immobile and ridiculously pretentious. It’s as if none of them have heard (because you know, every cool kid has heard the entire Arcade Fire discography) “Month of May,” which I quoted at the beginning of this article, which angrily shouts at the hordes of too-cool-for-school kids who don’t dance, bob their head or appear to derive any joy from concerts.

As huge fan of indie music, I’m pretty sick of going to concerts where the energy on stage isn’t reflected by the crowd. No one should have to experience a Reptar concert where nobody dances. No one should have to endure a CHVRCHES concert standing in a field of barely-breathing statues. And nobody, nobody should be the only one raving during “Reunion” at an M83 concert. Yet according to my experiences, high energy indie bands have to play to lifeless crowds that are too cool to show any appreciation for their music all the time. My best concert experiences have been watching more mainstream groups like Foster the People and Grouplove, gigs where crowd members unabashedly yell along to the lyrics, dance their hearts out and never seem to act better than the fellow fans around them.

Unenthusiastic crowds aren’t simply a pet peeve of mine — they’re a systemic issue. First of all, they affect, in general, the experience of everyone at the event. The negative emotions of individuals of the crowd naturally bring down the people around them, even (and especially) those who are most “into” the concert.

Secondly, they affect the experience of the band playing. As a man who has been on stage numerous times with a high-school rock band, I can attest to the effect of a crowd on a band. When people are clapping along, dancing, nodding their heads, it inspires the band to play better and with more energy. There’s nothing better than seeing people enjoy your music as you create it. Being a good crowd member makes the band happier, which makes the concert better for everyone. But a bad crowd can deflate any energy a band has, consequently making the experience worse for everyone.

Finally, being a part of an unenthusiastic crowd makes your experience worse. Everyone has some control over their emotions — cheer yourself up and attempt to get into the music! If you just flatline through the concert and don’t put any effort in, you’re not going to walk away with new great memories in your noggin. Do yourself a favor and take advantage of the moment. Do it for the people around you, do it for the band and do it for yourself.

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