Concert Etiquette (Or Lack Thereof) and Parasocial Relationships

Photo Source: Matt Moore, Sun-Times

Photo Source: Matt Moore, Sun-Times

Grace Pherson, Writer

In 2022, there was a surge in concerts post-covid. Artists were desperate to get back on stage, and fans were desperate to see their favorite artists live. This is all well and good; music is meant to be listened to live and in large crowds of people who all love the same artist. However, in the age of TikTok, concerts have become less about the music, and more about getting noticed by the artist. Fans will do anything to get their five minutes of fame; whether this be getting noticed by their favorite artist or going viral, fans will do anything. This includes spending days camping outside of the venue in the hopes that will be able to get to the very front of the pit. 

Concert culture has changed dramatically over the years. People care less about enjoying the moment, and more about getting their videos/experiences to go viral. Fans are blurring boundary lines and treating their favorite artists as if they are friends. Healthy relationships between the fan and the artist are great! The artist can be an outlet for that person, but when the fan loses sight of the truth, these interactives become negative. 


Concert Etiquette 

Photo Source: Getty Images

Covid shut down concerts for a solid two years, so when they started happening again, many young teens were experiencing their very first concerts. Everyone has their first concert experience: it’s where you learn how to conduct yourself and how to have fun and be respectful at the same time. Respect is incredibly important for a concert. You must respect the people around you, and the artist. Most importantly, the artist: they don’t owe you anything. They are playing music because they enjoy it, not because they have to. There is nothing wrong with first time concert-goers. Nothing beats experiencing live music for the first time, surrounded by people who all love the same artist. I think everyone should have the concert experience at least once in their lives; however, there is a proper way for it to be done that allows both the fans and the artist to have an enjoyable time. 

A lack of proper etiquette makes a concert unejoyable for everyone attending. Performers lately are even getting physically harmed: during one of Harry Styles’s residencies at the Forum in LA, a fan threw skittles on stage and one hit Styles in the eye. For the rest of the show, he was seen unable to open his eye. At a Phoebe Bridgers show, fans were seen sprinting and pushing one another to get to the front of the stage. Steve Lacy smashed a camera after someone threw a disposable one at Lacy while he was performing. Nobody really knows how to act anymore, making concerts seem more like a chore rather than a once in a lifetime experience. There needs to be a healthy balance between having respect and letting loose during a show. Respect for the artist is the biggest piece of advice for concert goers. They want to perform, but don’t turn it into something that feels more like a chore, rather than something they are meant to enjoy.  


Parasocial Relationships 

Social media has dramatically changed how people experience concerts. Gone are the days where people spent their time listening to and experiencing the music. Now it is all about getting that viral photo/video, or potentially getting noticed by the artist. Dazed and Confused Magazine called it the “main character syndrome.”  


The magazine used a quote from Dr. Bennett, a lecturer at Cardiff University:


 “Some fans experience a parasocial relationship – a sense of knowing their favorite musicians – even when they are one amongst potentially millions that follow the artist. This is then where a live concert can play a strong role – the artist is physically there in front of the audience, and there is a visible chance for a fan to be noticed, to attempt to make themselves more distinct in a sea of other fans, if only for a moment – yet a moment that can be immortalized on social media and shared with many fans online.”    


A few artists have complained about this phenomenon and how it takes away from their enjoyment, and the experience in general. Mitski, a singer-songwriter, tweeted last year saying, “…when I see people filming entire songs or whole sets, it makes me feel as though we are not here together. This goes for both when I’m on stage, and when I’m an audience member at shows…” Along with talking about the feeling of being “…consumed as content, instead of getting to share a moment with you…” Live concerts are all about connecting with the artist, and by trying to get the best photo, or the most viral video, takes away from this experience. 

Outside of concerts, fans have been invading the private lives of the celebrities they idolize. This is not a new phenomenon, but due to the influx in interactions between celebrities and their fans, many believe they are entitled to this access. People have become increasingly invasive, and even go as far to wait outside celebrities hotels. 


Camping at Concerts 

  The main contributor to this new form of concert-going is the change in camping culture. People now line up either days or months before the shows, just to get to the first row of the pit. This idea is a little isolating for fans who are unable to do this. Plus, the concert feels more like a chore or competition rather than an enjoyable experience. It’s reinforced that the only way to have fun at the show is to be right in the front, and if you are not, there’s basically no point in going. 

This concept has absolutely no merit to it. I have experienced live shows in many different venues. Sometimes I was in what would be classified as nosebleeds, and other times I was right on the front barricade. Personally, for small shows in small venues, being right up in the front is great. The performer is right there in front of you and you can see everything. For bigger shows, being up in the stands is a much better experience than being down in the pit. One, you don’t have to rush to get a good spot, and you aren’t spending days camping to get in the front. Also, the view is better; you aren’t struggling to see over heads and there is plenty of room to move around and enjoy yourself.     



Photo Source: Grace Pherson

Social media has dramatically changed the way we experience concerts. People care less about the show and more about getting attention from the artist. The photo on the side is one I took at a concert in September. All the people who paid a ton of money to get that close are just standing there with their phones held up to try and get the best photo. And yes, I understand wanting to remember every moment of a show, but my advice would be to only record the moments that are crucial for you to remember. Otherwise, keep your phone down and just enjoy the music. That’s the most important thing.