Posts Tagged ‘Upper West Side’

This past Saturday night, New York City let me down. I’ll explain.

My fiancée and I scored great tickets–Row A of the Loge section–for my favorite band, Death Cab For Cutie, at the Beacon Theatre on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. We’ve seen Death Cab once before, last summer at the Williamsburg Waterfront in Brooklyn. It was one of the best concerts either of us had ever been to. At that show, an outdoor concert, there were no seats; everyone stood and faced the stage, free to move about the giant lawn to dance, sway, or buy another beer, as the Manhattan skyline loomed at our backs. No one was fighting or jockeying for position; when people bumped  into you, they apologized.

Fast forward to Saturday night at the Beacon. The venue is beautiful inside–it reminded me of an opera house–and seemed fitting for Death Cab’s three performances over the weekend, which included an eight-piece orchestra accompanying their four usual band members.

The crowd seemed a little subdued. From our seats in Loge, one level above the Orchestra section, we could see a few heads bobbing but no one was standing up or dancing in their seats. But by the middle of the set, a few brave souls decided to stand, swaying and singing along. And by the time the set was over, everyone in the Orchestra was on their feet. (There had been tickets available in Orchestra, but I thought the first row of Loge would be a better value than the back of the Orchestra. I was incorrect.)

Meanwhile in our section no one was standing, save for a couple of energetic people next to us. When Death Cab came out for their encore, which is usually five or six more songs, my fiancée and I decided to stand up in our seats as the Orchestra fans were doing below us. That’s when we heard the people behind us. “Sit down please. Sit down please!”

We turned to address the angry couple behind us. “Are you kidding me?” I said. “This is a concert. It’s the encore! You could stand, too.” The male half of the couple said, “If we stand then the people behind us are going to hassle us.” Still incredulous, I implored them. “But it’s a concert!”

Then I got a response from the guy’s girlfriend that floored me: “This is the Beacon. If you want to stand, go to Brooklyn.”

Furious and frustrated (and a little confused by what the hell that even meant), we took to the aisle to stand, staying out of everyone’s way and hoping to enjoy the rest of the show. Within seconds, security ushered us right back to our seats, which meant we had two options: 1) stand and deal with the lames behind us for five more songs, or 2) give in and sit, and try to enjoy the rest of the concert on our butts. We opted for #2; as much as I enjoy arguing with strangers, I paid good money for Death Cab and they were my priority.

When Death Cab left the stage, my fiancée immediately turned back to our buddies behind us for a parting shot–but they were gone. While we were staying seated for their benefit (and to avoid the headache they were giving us) they had snuck out before the last note in an effort to avoid a confrontation. We couldn’t help feel a little disappointed–we were  hoping to get further explanation on the Brooklyn comment…

As I write this now, a day later, I’m still stunned. I don’t even know where to begin. Much has been made the last few days about fan etiquette after an incident at a Rangers-Yankees baseball game. And I’ve written before about fan behavior and  etiquette at the U.S Open. Part of going out to live sports or music event means dealing with people, many of whom have different opinions and habits than your own. But I’ve been to enough concerts to know that unless you’re at the opera (or possibly seeing the Beach Boys at Jones Beach), people are going to stand up to engage with the performance on stage. To look behind me and see 20 rows of people not standing–and yelling at us when we did–was and still is mind-boggling.

I don’t often ask for reader feedback on this blog, but I’m dying to know what you think. To sit or stand, that is the question!

UPDATE (11/7/12): I posed the question–sit or stand?–to the New York Times’ new The Ethicist columnist Chuck Klosterman. He settled the debate, kind of.

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