One of my favorite experiences in life is attending a live rock concert. I have done this since the age of 14. I have countless memories from euphoric to disappointment. From confusion to a blur.
I always arrived early and gave the proper respect to every opening act. I have seen many great opening acts over the years that have upstaged the headliner. T. Rex, Van Halen, Judas Priest, Cheap Trick, Rockpile, Graham Parker & The Rumour, Patti Smith Group, just to name a few. Most often, these openers were unknown bands and they would try to impress an audience not there to see “them”. They are thrilled to be there. Many of them faded into obscurity and very often forgotten by the end of the night. I always liked when the main act would mention the opening act at the end of their show. It was their way of remembering where they came from.
Just recently, I attended The Who concert and the opening act was Vintage Trouble (pictured above). They were great, but 75% of that audience had no idea what they were seeing, nor cared to give them a chance.
I never understood why people attend a show and make it a point to miss the opening act. Even worse are the people who are rude during the opening act. Talking, booing, yelling “get off the stage”. How can you call yourself a music fan and show such disrespect. You could be seeing the next big thing in the early stages of their artistic expression. Before they are tainted by the hit machine. Now is the time to experience them at their most innovative, but you choose to dismiss them. You paid for the price of the ticket for a night of music. Perhaps you feel it takes time away from the main act? It doesn’t. The main act has the alloted time for their set and that’s it. The opener is there to buy time and hopefully entertain the arrivers. Quite often, the opening act is chosen by the main act. That alone should warrant them some attention.
Is there somewhere else you would rather be? Would you rather be sitting in traffic on your way to the show? Or stuck at work? There are many things I can think of worse than sitting and listening to the music of a band I never heard.
Back in the day, the opener was a chance to “set up shop” for a night of hooting and hollering in an arena filled with the sweet smoke of a concert experience.
I have attended concerts recently and the level of disrespect has increased. I have also noticed many venues pairing up dual headline acts to entice concert goers to buy a high-priced ticket with the promise of an all-star show. I have been to these shows and the opener, no matter how big they are, are subjected to the same obnoxious behavior.
I can’t figure out what went wrong. Personally, I think we have become so wrapped up in unimportant things like checking e-mails, texting, tweeting, tagging photos of cats and kids, checking sports scores, setting up DVR’s for the next episode of Breaking Bad, and working (oh god, imagine that). We have forgotten how to put it all aside and enjoy what we overpaid for. The Concert.
So, next time you attend a musical event. Give the opening band a chance to impress you. Take yourself out of your life for that half hour set and try to find something that you can remember years later when they become too expensive to see. There is a possibility they will be awful, but clap anyway. But, maybe one day you can say “I saw them when they were the opening act”. Trust me, it’s impressive.
If you don’t want to do that, fine.
Then I ask you to do one thing.
SHUT THE HELL UP, so I can enjoy the opening act of the concert I overpaid for.