The Dos and Don’ts of Concert-Going

by Ama Debrah

Miss The Silversun Pickups for midterms? I think not.

I’ve never been one to keep a calendar. Although I’d like to say it’s because I like to live in the moment and be spontaneous, it’s more because I’m lazy. Keeping a calendar means that I have to go through the physical act of writing information down or – even worse – clicking on the iCal application. Plus, if it’s really that important, I’ll remember it, right?

WRONG.

Therefore, it came as no surprise when, this past week, I realized that in addition to the paper and take-home midterm I had due that Wednesday, I also had agreed to see Silversun Pickups and Mika the preceding Monday and Tuesday. It was essentially a recipe for disaster.

How did I manage to justify seeing two concerts back-to-back in the eye of Hurricane Midterm? In addition to acknowledging that, yes, I will fail school and be forced to live in a cardboard box on 116th Street (who needs exposed brick when you can have cardboard?), I decided that after I witnessed some disgraceful manners on behalf of some of my fellow concertgoers, I would put together a do’s and don’ts list for having the absolute best concert experience possible.

Don’t:

Who needs a degree when you can see Mika live?

Expect your favorite band to play every song they’ve ever recorded
Do you know what’s worse than going to a concert and having the band not play your favorite song, even though it’s a hit that everyone loves? Nothing. (Yes, I’m talking to you, Incubus, and I’m referring to “Dig”). It’s best to go into a concert with absolutely zero expectations of what the band is going to play. That way, if the odds are in your favor and the band plays all your favorite songs, it’ll be even better. Thankfully, both Silversun Pickups and Mika understood my pain, and each artist played all their hits to their full glory.

Expect the band to go on stage on time
But, actually. Each guitar is going to be tuned eighty-five times, the mics checked sixty-four times, and then we have to wait for the band to finish watching Lord Of The Rings: The Return of the King. How much time could we cut out of the set-up between bands if, I don’t know, maybe three roadies tuned and/or tapped wires to the ground at the same time? I really don’t think the stage is going to break if there’s more than one roadie setting stuff up at once, but then again, what do I know.

Mistake being at a concert for being at the library
Surprisingly, both Silversun Pickups and Mika had an extremely grouchy crowd. At Silversun Pickups, some fourteen-year-old pre-pubescent boy kept giving me the stink-eye because I (gasp!) yelled during “Panic Switch.” Finally, I returned the stink-eye and demanded in my best NeNe Leakes impersonation, “Yes? Is there a problem?” He then realized he was giving the stink eye to a grown-ass woman and backed down. Similarly, at Mika, a fight almost broke out in the crowd when someone tried to push their way to the front, and I was also berated for allegedly poking some fussy German woman during the opening act.

Do:

Expect the opening act to suck
More likely than not, the opening act will be worse than Franklin and Gob’s compilation CD on Arrested Development, so don’t expect too much. Silversun Pickups had two openers, one of which was a band called Cloud Nothings, who I fondly dubbed “Angry Males Yelling Angrily.” I couldn’t really name a song they did, because the majority of their set was a cacophony of the lead singer screaming “NO FUTURE NO PAST,” and all the instruments playing at once in the background. When Jimi Hendrix goes on a twenty minute guitar solo exploring the depths of his LSD high, it’s classic. When an opening band that has already been playing for forty-five minutes does so, it’s not as cool.

Atlas Genius in their quite attractive glory.

That being said, the first opening acts for Silversun Pickups and Mika were actually pretty great. The first opener for Silversun Pickups was the Australian alternative group, Atlas Genius. And while they certainly did a great set, playing such hits as “Trojans” and “Symptoms,” I was slightly distracted from the music because I was compelled to shout, “But really now, they are quite attractive,” in my friend’s ear every five seconds. The opener for Mika, The Dolls, a European duo composed of a DJ and a violinist dressed in neutral tones, also made for prime concert viewing. As they remixed Rihanna’s “Diamonds” and Roybn’s “Indestructible,” a projector flashed random iconic moments of 90s television, including scenes from Hey Arnold!, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and The Cosby Show. I tried to uncover the hidden meaning behind the projections, but then I decided that The Dolls are just nostalgic for the nineties like the rest of us. They also had the craziest props; the DJ table was covered with gaudy Christmas lights, a neon-green Buddha statue, and a monkey mask while they threw plastic maracas into the crowd.

Take a moment to appreciate the lighting
Both concerts put a lot of emphasis on lighting, adding overall to the performances. The spiraling neon lights used during Silversun Pickup’s “Lazy Eye” made me feel like Marty the Zebra flying through that rainbow in Madagascar 3 (don’t pretend like you don’t know what I’m talking about), and Mika essentially had a separate light show coordinated with every song.

Have high expectations for your concert
I’ve seen a lot of concerts, but seriously guys, Silversun Pickups and Mika are absolutely incredible live. Although they’re pretty much on opposite ends of the musical spectrum, the artists brought so much passion and enthusiasm to their performances that it was impossible to get through their entire set without a ridiculous grin on my face.

In retrospect, Mika’s concert was hands-down the best concert I’ve ever experienced in my entire life. I had already seen Silversun Pickups in concert four years ago so while it was also great, it didn’t leave the same fresh impression as Mika’s concert did. I danced crazily with the crowd during “Love Today” and “We Are Golden,” openly sobbed during his acoustic performance of “Stardust,” and sang along with every falsetto note during “Grace Kelly” (much to the delight of everyone standing around me).

Ama Debrah is a junior at Barnard and On Campus and Features and On-Campus Editor for The Nine Ways of Knowing. 

Images courtesy of CBS San Francisco, Mika Fan Club, and Celebrity VIP Lounge.

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