Friday, September 11, 2009

Atmosphere etiquette

I arrived at the J-Bar about half an hour into Amber Norgaard's set. As her music wafted into the lobby, I told the friendly hostess that I'd like to sit on the patio, where she was playing.

"Oh," she said. "Do you have reservations? There's a half hour wait."


The last time I saw Amber perform here was a year or so ago. I came alone, sat at a small table, listened, ate good food, and generally chilled. Without thinking about it, I had assumed tonight would go pretty much the same, except that Ron the Drummer would be there too. I hadn't expected a crowd.

Fortunately, Ron had arrived far ahead of me. Also fortunately, a large table of Amber's friends and admirers had invited Ron to sit with them as he waited for a table. They graciously scootched over and made room for me too.

And then came the inevitable dilemma: I never know how to behave at atmosphere gigs when I'm with other people.

See, I know how it feels to perform at these things. You understand that your audience won't be paying much attention to the music. You accept that. But you also rejoice when people come to see you and listen to you. So when I'm the one in the audience, I like to focus on the artist or band I came to hear.

On the other hand, if I'm part of a group, I feel like I'm expected to socialize. Everyone else is. I don't want to be rude.

I ended up spending half the time listening to Amber and the other half attempting to be social. "Being social" in this case mostly meant directing my gaze at my tablemates and trying to follow the conversations -- somewhat difficult, as I couldn't hear anyone except Ron and the woman to my left, and then only when they spoke directly to me. Still, I hoped I was being sufficiently attentive to everyone involved.

Not until I came home did it occur to me that I was way overthinking this. Nobody else was paying attention to what I was paying attention to. Maybe I should've just done whatever I wanted.

Am I the only person who gives two seconds of thought to this kind of thing?


Jannie Funster said...

I guess if you want to you could take your chair and turn it to the stage, face the musicians, maybe even a little closer, make it pretty obvious you are there to listen. Maybe for one set?

cinderkeys said...

That could work. Maybe I could do that 'til the food arrives. :)

Unknown said...

I thought about this, but from a listener point of view. Many times I want to listen to the musician, but feel out of place. Every else is talking and joking. I usually want to watch and listen.