More From The Chat: Getting Concertgoers Charged Up

Here's a post that I didn't have time to address in yesterday's Freedom Rock chat:

Anyone who responds to one of those, "Is everyone having a good time? What? I can't HEAR you! Get LOUD, DC!" kind of stage exhortations is a chump. I am so much better than any of you. The artist will not be impressed if you can yell louder than last night's crowd in Philadelphia.

The artist probably won't be impressed - but s/he/they might be inspired to play with more intensity. Particularly if the crowd continues to respond at high volume following said exhortation. I think you're kidding yourself if you believe that performers don't feed off of the energy that's flowing from the audience to the stage. Not all of them will, of course; I can't imagine Bob Dylan cares how the crowd is responding when he's on stage, and Interpol doesn't seem to notice that there are other people in the room when they're performing. There are also some artists who respond to indifferent audiences by seething on stage. Very punk rock.

But I think it does matter to most. Consider an artist like Springsteen, who clearly performs better when the audience is, in fact, yelling louder than last night's crowd in Philadelphia. There's a bit of chicken-and-the-eggishness to the equation (does the crowd get revved up if Bruce and the band are dialing it up? or is it the other way around?); but I really believe that the audience drives the action. Sunday's Springsteen show was better than Monday's because there was more electricity inside the arena. You could just feel it when the band took the stage, before a single note had been played.

If Bruce exhorted the crowd on Monday, it was all in the service of the show. He was simply trying to take it up a notch. If you were there and refused to play along, then it's quite possible that you're the chump.

By J. Freedom du Lac |  November 14, 2007; 4:09 PM ET Chat , Concerts , Crowds , Springsteen
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Ok, but there's a clear delineation between those performers who are trying to catch a wave with the crowd and those others (like say Kiss) who try and jump start the loudness between every song.

For some shows the electricity is so great the performer doesn't need to do anything, and that's fun, but it's also good for the crowd if they can get one without electricity going.

Posted by: Hemisphire | November 14, 2007 4:43 PM

Oh for sure musicians dig on a revved up crowd, especially if they're a top tier name. Few years ago at a bar in SF, Bruno's, there was this amazing funk-jazz band that was totally kicking booty. The crowd thow was a bunch of lame hipsters and barely nodded their heads to the groove. Anyhoo, me and my pal chat up the band afterword and it turns out they were feeling bad about the audience response. I told him to come perform in Oakland, where we know about groove!

Posted by: Oaktown357 | November 14, 2007 5:46 PM

I've seen a metric ton of concerts, but when I drove north to see Springsteen last month in Philly (of all places), it was genuinely transcendent. I have never seen a crowd that big (basketball arena) that loud pour that much of themselves into a concert, and I may never see it again - combinations of artist and city like that are pretty rare. It was a crowd of true believers and people who view his music as more than just entertainment, and you could tell the band felt the emotion. How could they not? I can't even get close to a description that does it all justice without sounding cornball-ish. How about the fact it was my last night on leave from Afghanistan? If you thrive on detachment and irony, there's a wide world of other music for you. But there's a reason his music and the place it comes from speaks to so many people.

It would be obvious to anyone, band or not, that the next city (or two or three cities later) doesn't share that same feeling. Although I don't understand how that could be with impassioned, intense people like John Kerry in the audience. (I love you, DC, but there are some things you just can't deny...)

Whoever left that comment doesn't understand that it doesn't make you cool to be unable to let loose at a concert. And Patti's song definitely equals a chance to rest and kinda sort of maybe listen a little.

Posted by: John M. | November 14, 2007 9:57 PM

If you paid today's ticket prices, then unquestionably you're a chump already. Three serviceable hookers and a bottle of Jack will produce similar levels of excitement and most of the money you spend will stay in the local community.

Posted by: Castulo Guerra | November 14, 2007 11:30 PM

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