Why would you pay money to go to a music concert just to sit and talk to the friend who had gone with you? You could have talked to your friend at work, or in your house, or in a bar filled with people talking, why would you go to a concert to not just ignore the music but to spoil the experience for others attending?
Just as infections tend to appear first on the East Coast and spread westward, so the anti-social practice of talking at gigs, which one might have assumed was a Celtic Tiger phenomenon, seems to have spread west, to the annoyance of Limerick blogger Bock the Robber.
Attending a Counting Crows concert in 2009 was my worst Dublin experience of trying to understand why people who had no interest in the music had gone to a concert.
The band had started playing at 9.30. The last of the drinkers came in from the bar at 9.40. The first of the departures for the toilet came around 9.50. By 10.00 the drinkers needed refreshment and had to go out again. The toiletgoers then started returning followed by the drinkers. Then they started getting muddled up; some of the women seemed to have very weak bladders and had to head out again by 10.20, but their numbers were swollen by those who could not survive half an hour without a drink. The band only played until 10.50, by which time the musical chairs in the rows in front had become very excited as some of those who had hardly watched anything all night anyway decided this was the point at which to leave. By the time the band reappeared for the encore, there was a steady stream out of the doors.
When they were not going to the bar or the toilet; many of the people had just sat and talked among themselves. Why had they paid €55 for a ticket that gave them the chance to buy and recycle grossly overpriced drink while talking to their friends about what had happened in the office that afternoon? Why hadn’t they saved their money and spent it on even more lager or vodka, or put it towards shoes with even higher heels?
It’s not just concerts, the rugby is getting as bad. At an early season match last September, I sat and watched as the Leinster out-half lined up a penalty. The match was close and the kick was important. There was a hush around the ground which made the woman’s voice all the more audible, ‘Excuse me, can we get out?’
We were directly in the kicker’s line of sight, ‘After the penalty has been taken’, I hissed back. She sighed loudly and crossed her arms and stood pouting like a spoilt child. Why had she come to the match at all? It’s even worse at the end of games, once seventy of the eighty minutes have passed, people begin going home, even when the game is close. This does not happen in France; their supporters stay until the end, (even when, as happened at Bayonne v Toulouse in September, when the home team were 33-6 down in the 80th minute and the opposition kicker was lining up a conversion to make it 35-6; even then the 15,000 supporters waited until the final whistle).
Is it that the Celtic Tiger years created a sense of wanting to be seen at events, wanting to say one had been there, even if the time was going to be spent drinking; or is it that we have just forgotten our manners?