Ever been to a rock/metal concert and saw a guy hold up his cell phone when the singer said "Show me your lighters" and wondered if it's legal? Wonder no more! Over the years, I've compiled my personal set of rules to which I strictly adhere and hope you will remember at your next face melting. Keep in mind that these are not official, and varying opinions exist for almost every rule:
1. The mosh pit is not a place to blow your emotional powder keg.
Seriously, it's just a place for a bunch of idiots to slam into each other for no apparent reason! No one cares if your boss treats you like shit or if you get picked on at school, leave your anger out of the mosh pit! The people who break this rule are always the ones who take it a step too far and forget that the people around him are, in fact, his brothers. Help someone up if they fall, but feel free to shove them when they get on their feet! The only exception to this rule is to knock the exceedingly drunk/douchebaggy guy on his ass who's ruining everyone else's time--feel free to deliver an elbow to his mouth.
2. Your cell phone =/= a lighter (unless approved by lead singer)
If you don't smoke, then you're going to be S.o.L. when the slow song comes, unfortunately; just sit there and enjoy the song. The exception to this rule is if the singer specifically adds cell phones to the "let's see your lighters" command. This is a rather minor rule, but it's more of a rule of principle--don't look like a jackass.
3. A foot is like a concealed weapon, use it to trip the shovers.
You're a decent length away from the stage, and you can't get any further due to the mass of humans in front of you, but does that stop the shovers? Hell no. These dicks will weasel their way through a thick chunk of people to get closer to the stage, thinking that they have more of a right than anyone else to be close. Luckily, due to the high densities on the floor at metal concerts, you can easily stick your foot out in front of their path and slightly impede their quest. This rarely trips them or does anything, to be honest, but on rare occasions it will trip them, and though it might not stop them, it will make their troubles even worse. Once again there is an exception to this rule. If someone is walking AWAY from the stage, it's probably because of a dire reason (injury, bodily fluids, insatiable desire for a beer, etc.) so it's generally considered best to give them passage.
4. You are allowed to yell "Freebird!" four times in your life. Use them wisely.
This practice of yelling the name of Skynyrd's immortal epic has been old probably even before I was born, but why should the old farts get all the fun? Because this practice has been old for a very long time, you are limited to yelling Freebird four times before you are awarded a punch on the shoulder for subsequent shouts.
5. TIP: Drink plenty of water before the show
Not so much a rule, I strongly advise being well hydrated before a metal concert, because it is an extremely physically draining experience (unless you are in assigned seating). This serves another purpose of you avoiding the forced purchase of a $3 bottled water at the venue. Of course, the catch is that you will have to piss at one or more points during the show, but that's why the metal gods gave us ~30 minutes in between sets!
6. Feel free to act like an idiot; shout, scream, sing along, play air guitar, profess your Man Crush for one of the members, just don't violate any of the other rules.
It is generally accepted that the guy who looks like the biggest fool is enjoying the show the most. Being reserved is for a folk-rock concert (nothing against folk-rock, of course :) ) so when your favorite song is played, scream your lungs out! Additionally, the band's energy is proportional to the crowd's energy, so it takes a group effort to get the most from the band on stage.
7. If you don't like one of the bands on the lineup, go get a drink, take a piss, or stand in the back.
Fairly self explanatory, no matter how much you hate a certain band on the lineup, there's almost always someone there that likes them. Generally, Rock lineups stick to genres, so you won't see Simple Plan touring with Cannibal Corpse, so there's no justification in booing an opening act. Give them a try, and if you don't want to, see one of the practices above for what to do if your ears are bleeding.
8. TIP: Guitar picks/drumsticks/sweaty towels/armbands are the most valuable things in the world, sacrifice life and limb to acquire them!
Despite old notions of value and monetary worth, the aforementioned items are priceless artifacts worthy of being show to grandchildren. If you're in the vicinity of one of these object, prepare to fight tooth and nail to get it, and if you do, prepare to become the envy of everyone within a ten foot radius!
9. The Hard Rock/Metal genres are vulgar by nature, parental discretion is advised.
I wish I didn't have to say this, but I have seen parents scolding other concert goes for using the dreaded F word and staring daggers at anyone who would dare jump or head bang near their young children. If you want to bring your kids, great! Spread the Metal plague for generations to come, but remember that the closer you get to the stage, the more vulgar and violent the crowd becomes. Enjoy the show with your kids near the back and remind them of how Metal never actually died in the 90s, it just went into hiding to avoid dying from exposure to pop culture
10. Do NOT extend your thumb when flashing the horns!
As stated by Maddox in his best-selling book The Alphabet of Manliness, the horns + extended thumb = gesture of peace, and the last thing you will find at a Metal concert is peace. Do not make Lord Ronnie James Dio spin in his grave; use your thumb to restrain your middle and ring fingers.
11. The most important rule: ignore the previous rules! It's Metal, bitch!
Why do you think Death Metal band Amon Amarth randomly breaks into a violin instrumental during one of their heaviest songs? Why do you think Metallica cut their hair and significantly toned down their intensity in the mid 90s? Why do you think Howard Jones, lead singer of Killswitch Engage, called a heckler on stage and punched him in the jaw? Because Metal has no rules and is completely unexpected! Nothing is official, except that you need to officially enjoy yourself if you are at a show!
What else annoys you at concerts? Are some of my takes on these violations to harsh or too wussy? What about those damn white trash guys who can't ever seem to keep their shirt on? Spill your guts!
Until next time,