15 Rules of Etiquette for Rock Concerts

I've logged a lot of concert time. After seeing hundreds of bands, mostly at general admission shows (seats are for wimps), you learn a thing or two. I've done it all: backstage, onstage, met bands, crowd surfed, moshed, stood in the back, and been all the way up in the front. Back in my heyday, there were rules you followed at rock concerts. I liked the rules. They ensured that people didn't get hurt and that everyone had a good time, respectfully. The guys watched out for the girls, and we all took care of each other. Now, all that's gone to pot.

I haven't seen a good list of rules for rock concerts in a long time, so I decided to put one together myself. I admit that this is coming from a very jaded place of going to too many shows and dealing with too many kids who have NO idea what they're doing on the floor, so if this sort of perspective offends you, you may want to go read an article about fluffy bunnies instead. You can walk away now and continue to be THAT GUY at a show (the one everyone can't stand), or go on and read the rules:

Even Bill Murray doesn't want you to be THAT GUY.
Even Bill Murray doesn't want you to be THAT GUY.

Note: Specific rules really depend on what type of band you're seeing. I've tried to keep these as general as possible.

1. Don't sing louder than the band.

Singing is good; the band likes it when you sing along. But keep it to a dull roar. The people around you would like to actually hear the band they paid to see. I'm not going to say that tone deaf people shouldn't sing at all because half the rock bands out there can't sing too well either. Sing it up, tone deaf people! Just...not louder than the band.

2. Don't wear the shirt of the band you're seeing to the show.

People who do this are called "THAT GUY". Don't be that guy. Yes, we know you like the band. That's why you're at the show, dummy.

3. Keep your flailing to a minimum in close quarters.

 Once you start hitting people, that's your cue to bring it in tighter. Rocking out in a very small space is a learned skill--watch the veterans do it right. One important part of flailing in close quarters is keep your arms DOWN. [Except if you're in the front dealing with crowd surfers.] You will only hit people in the head by keeping your arms up, therefore pissing them off. Flailing your arms in the air while throwing bull horns is just about the lamest thing you can do. Nobody thinks you're punk rock. Just stop.

4. Don't just stand there with a serious look on your face, for crying out loud.

 It's a concert...at least PRETEND like you're having a good time. If you don't know how to have a good time and want to continue looking like you're at a funeral, at least stand in the back where the band can't see you. It's embarrassing for the rest of us to see you standing right in front of the band like this is the worst day of your life.

5. If you want to talk through the whole show, stand in the very far back...

...where you won't annoy all the other people who came to the show to hear the BAND, not you and your annoying friends. Honestly, why see a band if you're there to socialize? Go to the mall instead.

6. Showing up to a concert 5 hours before it starts is for NSYNC fans.

There is no reason to be that early, unless you want to be the person against the barrier...which is just about the last spot you should want to be in (or maybe you enjoy metal bars crushing your internal organs slowly). Don't be a fan geek. And keep reading because the next one goes along with this one.

7. Dressing up for a concert in the same thing you wore to the club last night is also for NSYNC fans.

Yes I mean you, mini dress and 5 inch heels. The lead singer of All Time Low is not going to make out with you, so please stop trying so hard. It pains the rest of us to see you wobbling on your heels and hiking your skirt down all night. Use your common sense and wear something comfortable.

8. It's a mosh pit, not a laser death ray out to kill you.

You don't need to charge like a rhino into the person in back of you to avoid ending up in the pit. If you're THAT afraid of getting near moshers, stay off the floor.

9. Keep the screaming to a minimum.

I know you're excited, but screaming at the top of your lungs in between songs, during instrumental breaks in songs, and before the band even comes onstage is bound to annoy the crap out of everyone around you. Plus make them deaf.

10. Don't yell things at the band.

Nobody cares that you love the lead singer. Nobody cares that you want them to play that song. And 99 times out of 100, whatever you're saying is neither clever nor funny. Keep it to yourself. Concerts should be more like comedy shows, where the people who yell out stupid things get heckled. Now that would be awesome.

11. If you don't know how to mosh, don't mosh.

Too many times I've seen three 12 year olds start a "mosh pit" when all they're doing is creating wasted empty space and slamming themselves into little girls. 3 people do not make a mosh pit, you ninnies. And you running full force into your friend, who then slams full force into somebody in the audience, only gets people hurt. It does not make you cool. Real mosh pits have barriers (aka people who stand on the edges of the pit to ensure that the moshers stay in the pit and don't go careening into the crowd), they're contained, and much safer for everyone. If you don't know what I'm talking about, you should NOT TRY TO MOSH.
p.s. Mosh is a stupid word, and I'm ashamed I've said it so many times here.

See how silly this looks?

12. Keep the crowd surfing to a minimum.

Crowd surfing practices depend a lot on the type of band you're seeing. Some shows attract crowd surfing more than others. But here's the general rule: You should only crowd surf a few times through the show. Don't be THAT GUY (there's that phrase again) who crowd surfs over and OVER AND OVER AGAIN....he's usually the only one crowd surfing too. Don't be that guy. It's no fun for everyone else who has to hold your ass up as you crowd surf during every song.

13. Help the people around you.

I'm talking to you, 6'5" guy who for some reason needs to be in the very front. I don't know what happened, but nobody looks out for each other anymore. I'm a very small girl, and when I first started going to shows, the guys around me would always ask me if I was ok. They'd get crowd surfers away from me and protect me from the pits. 5 years later, those same guys were shoving me to get in front of me, I was the one holding up crowd surfers AND protecting other girls from the pit. What the hell, guys? When did everybody turn into such a douche bag?

14. If you're claustrophobic, stay off the floor.

There's always one person who freaks out at other people touching them and/or getting too close...common sense tells you that if you're on the floor at a concert, there WILL be other people touching you. If this bothers you, go stand in the back. Please don't stand all the way up at the front, then proceed to flip out when the band starts, almost faint, and have to be carried away by a security guard. Know your limits.

15. Don't just take a picture with the band and not say anything to them.

If you're lucky enough to meet the band, the least you could do is say something to them. And "Hey can I take a picture with you?" doesn't count. Tell them you like their music. Tell them they played well. SAY SOMETHING for goodness sake. How would you like it if you had people stick cameras in your face all night and not say a word to you afterward? Hey rude-o. The band you like is right in front of you....talk to them instead of focusing on getting a new Facebook profile pic.

[I would put all the pictures of me with bands I've met here, but I was too busy talking to them to take pictures.]

Please share your 2 cents below in comments. Do you have pet peeves I haven't included here? Show off that snobbery!

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Comments 14 comments

Neil Sperling profile image

Neil Sperling 6 years ago from Port Dover Ontario Canada

Only thing you missed was puff puff pass.... LOL

prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 6 years ago from malang-indonesia

You have tons of useful tips. I am glad to follow your tips while attending a rock concert. Good information. Thanks for share with us.


M. Rose profile image

M. Rose 6 years ago from Orange County, CA Author

HAHA Neil, thanks for pointing out my clear mistake of not including that.

Many thanks, prasetio! Appreciate you stopping by and commenting.

kid rock 5 years ago

16. PUFF PUFF PASS not PUFF PUFF PUFF PUFF PUFF PUFF PUFF PASS. don't be "that guy" who hogs the joint you didn't even roll. share with the rest of the potheads or they'll be pissed. and maybe take the joint from you and throw you into a mosh pit of 12 year old boys. ew. you don't want that. and unless your at a hannah montana concert, theres gonna be some puff puff passing.

M. Rose profile image

M. Rose 5 years ago from Orange County, CA Author

Why thank you kid rock for your insight.

Mary Larson 5 years ago

Thank you for this. I just spent a weekend at a music festival with my family. One of my brothers insisted on singing at the top of his lungs, screaming, and constantly talking throughout the entire show. I asked his over and over again to please tone it down, as I couldn't hear the bands over his volume. He became very angry at me, and so escalated his already annoying antics to prove to me that I wasn't going to shut him up. For the tickets and camp passes and gas and whatever, I spent over $1,200 sponsoring this trip, and I couldn't hear any of my favorite acts. He says I think I"m the "Fun Police" and ruined it for him (he never did shut up the whole way through). Needless to say, I will not go to a concert with him in the future - unless I really don't care about the act at all.

M. Rose profile image

M. Rose 5 years ago from Orange County, CA Author

Mary Larson, your brother should be punished for such abhorrent concert behavior! At least now you know to never attend another concert with him. Loud singers ruin the concert for everyone :( I hope you made him read this to see the error of his ways LOL. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

Invictus Sanguine 4 years ago

Addition to #12

Don't crowd surf with an open drink in your hand. I don't want your drink all over me, and I'm sure you don't want to have to pay $8- for another beer or $12 for a jack and coke

Double0Individual profile image

Double0Individual 4 years ago from City of the Angels

Excellent! Especially the ending about the camera - I took a camera to two concerts (both Pink Floyd) and got two historic shots. Other than that, like you, close to a hundred shows with only my memory taking the pictures. Great hub, great sarcastic humor properly placed!

Rosie 3 years ago

I would also add to #7: and if you did take 3 hours to dress up and arrive at the concert right when the headliner goes on, don't think that you can steam roll your way up to the front row to show the lead singer how hot you look. The lead singer doesn't care, and everyone around you is just going to be pissed off at you. Also, leave your designer purse and shoes at home. It's a rock show. If you're stupid enough to bring a $400 handbag or pair of shoes onto the floor where they can get beer and god-knows-what-else spilled on them, you don't deserve to complain about your ruined purse, pumps, boots, etc.

Michelle 2 years ago

These are very good tips, but here's a new one to add for this day in age.

Don't take pictures or record videos throughout the whole concert! I've noticed that not only am I seeing more cameras and phones in the air, but tablets too! If you must take pictures, then at least get a good camera, wait for the right moment, if you have a setting that takes three pictures at once - use it, snap the pic and then put the camera down. Or better yet, unless you are a skilled photographer, leave the camera at home and let the professionals take the pictures. Besides, it's better to enjoy the concert with your own eyes and not through a camera lens, otherwise you might as well watch them on TV or on Youtube from other people who decided to break these rules.

Beach Mick profile image

Beach Mick 2 years ago from Eastern North Carolina

We promote a number of concerts including Rock, Country, Pop, etc., and your article is dead on! There are a number of people who have no idea about etiquette or respect for those around them. Hopefully, peer pressure will help correct this over time.

Thanks for your article!

Michael "Beach Mick" Hudson

Editor - Beach Carolina Magazine


t. russell 16 months ago

youza scaks

Todd Martin 15 months ago

Boy George Concert and 6 Facebook Selfie girls BLAH BLAH BLAH ME ME ME sat on the back of my chair to get a picture of Boy in the background. Then 3 more girls stood up in front and danced so I couldn't watch the show and Im6'5", it's called a concert for reason- clubs are for dance. The lack of awareness and manners......of other beings in the world. People are not pets.....

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