Opinion: Live band- Dead audience

Andrew Paulsen

Andrew Paulsen

Andrew Paulsen is a senior electronic media production major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].

There’s nothing quite like the energy at a rock concert — especially when a band gives you an electrifying, entertaining show instead of just a musical performance. One of my favorite bands that meet this description is MUTEMATH and I was fortunate enough to catch them at the Cleveland House of Blues on Sunday night.

It was a great experience that featured a spectacular light show, amazing on-stage action and creative uses of confetti, an inflatable mattress covered in LED lights and Christmas lights (head to Youtube and search live videos from the Odd Soul tour if you want to see more). However, one of the things I was sorely disappointed with at the show was entirely out of the band members’ hands.

The audience.

To be fair, most of the crowd near the front of the stage was clapping, jumping and singing along with songs. But everyone else was taking his or her “standing room only” ticket a bit too literally.

The people up in the balcony were doing even less. While I understand that certain people paid extra money to get box level tickets, these concert-goers were standing motionless (practically lifeless) and made me question why they even bothered standing up at all, since they splurged to have seats in the first place.

Additionally, after the band finished its set, waved goodbye and walked offstage, there was hardly any applause. While all bands have the obligatory encore set nowadays and audiences can expect that a show is never over until the fat polo-shirted security pushes you out, there was hardly any attempt to begin an encore chant, a slow-clap or any other form of ovation.

In fact it was so bad that when MUTEMATH came back out, lead singer Paul Meany said that they would played a few more songs, but that it wasn’t an encore set. Instead he said that they took a short break to reset for their final set of songs.

How embarrassing is that?

Spectators put so little energy and effort into calling the band back out that the MUTEMATH needed an excuse to return and finish the show.

Another gripe I had was with the “documentarians” in the crowd.

You know who I’m talking about.

The people who had cell phones and cameras out the whole time, up in the air, blocking everyone else’s view so that they could get crappy, shaky video of the concert. It would be one thing if they wanted to snap a picture or two of the band or get a quick clip of video to remember an awesome part of the show, but recording the whole concert on an iPhone?

How do you even enjoy the performance?

As a media production major, I can attest that most of the time when I record live sports or any function as a cameraman, I rarely remember the details of the event. If all they wanted was video of the show, these “cinematographers” would be better off waiting six months to get the live DVD so that they could have saved the extra $20 from the ticket cost, plus they’d actually have a watchable recording with decent sound.

I realize that people are free to do as they please when they drop $40 on a concert, but I just wish they could match the liveliness and vitality of the performers that they pay to watch.

When a band that you like tours city to city each day and plays a show at a different venue each night even though they’re exhausted, the least you can do to give back to them is reciprocate some enthusiasm and keep them going.

Otherwise, what’s the point of a live show?