My wife and I attended performances by Lady Gaga and Marc Maron recently. They were not on the same bill, or even in the same venue, yet had something in common. At both shows, fans in the crowd felt the need to shout something out.
In Maron’s case, as a professional standup comedian, he’s quick-witted enough to handle such situations. The loud guy wasn’t a heckler, just another person who doesn’t understand the meaning of the word “monologue.” I wonder if he talks back while listening to Maron’s podcast in his car.
At Lady Gaga’s show, more than one person felt the need to yell, “I love you, Gaga!” Each time, the singer instantly responded, “I love you, too!” I bet the screamer went home and told everyone Gaga — who couldn’t see this human in a crowd of five thousand — said she loves her. But after it happened a third time, Gaga added, “I love all of you,” probably in an attempt to preempt any further declarations.
The worst of these interruptions occurred when Gaga was — as I described in my piece about her show — honoring her late friend Tony Bennett by putting down her microphone and singing “Fly Me To The Moon” a capella and unamplified. Despite the song not being over, people in the audience shrieked their approval (“woo-hoo!” “oh, yeah!”) after every line.
Compare that to when my wife and I saw Tony do it. You could have heard a pin drop in that theater, because no one else made a sound. We were all mesmerized by what we were seeing and hearing; a moment that needed no contribution from anyone else.
For some reason, too many audience members think they’re part of the show and couldn’t care less if their actions negatively impact the concert-going experience of anyone around them. If they want to stand up mid-show, turn around, and take a selfie with the artist in the background, they just do it, oblivious to the imposition on everyone nearby. It’s more important they have something to post on Instagram — because the most impressive part of the evening was their presence.
I have never seen this obnoxious behavior at plays or musicals. No one leapt to their feet during “Hamilton” and shouted, “I love you, Lin-Manuel!!” Nor did they interrupt the courtroom scenes in “To Kill A Mockingbird” to yell, “You go, Atticus!” The closest we’ve come recently was Lauren Boebert and her date vaping and fondling each other at “Beetlejuice.”
This narcissistic conduct has been a pet peeve of mine for a long time. I wrote about it a few years ago after re-listening to a Linda Ronstadt concert recorded in 1980 and noticing how the audience stayed quiet while she sang, saving their reactions until she’d finished each song.
It’s really apparent while she performs her cover of Willin’, a song Lowell George wrote and recorded with Little Feat. When Ronstadt and her backup singers get to the chorus, they pause for a second or two between the words weed, whites, and wine — and you know what you hear during those moments? Nothing! No one in the audience whoops, cheers, or shouts “Yeah!”
Perhaps it was a sign of the times, but I bet that every live album recorded in the last decade or two includes some nitwit feeling like they have to fill the silence anytime a performer pauses during a song. These are the same idiots who shout out song requests from 30 rows back, which serve as nothing more than an annoying distraction to the performer, who already has a set list worked out in advance. Or the ones who don’t give a damn about anyone else attending the show, so they hold up their iPads to capture it on video, thus blocking the view of everyone in a direct line behind them.
I fully understand how stimulated people can get when they’ve paid a lot of money and had weeks to get psyched to see a performer they love appear right in front of them. Their reactions may be intensified by the consumption of any number of liquids, herbs, or gummies. Not to mention announcements made just before the show starts, designed to pump up their excitement level even more.
But perhaps there should be one more announcement:
We’re glad you’re here tonight and hope you have a great time. But please be respectful of others in this room and don’t do anything that will detract from their experience. The only person allowed to speak is the one on the stage. That’s why they have a microphone and you don’t.
In other words, please remember this evening is not about you.