If concert attendance is a choice, shouldn’t your applause be as well? According to some rock stars, the ticket price you pay is actually an agreement to hand over your free will.
On September 13th, 2014, Kanye West was performing a show in Sydney, Australia. During his performance of “Good Life”, he stopped the song and demanded everyone in the audience to stand on their feet, and I do mean everyone on their feet. “I can’t do this show until everybody stand up.” Kanye said. “Unless you got a handicap pass and you get special parking and shit”, he continued. It sounds as though this may not have been Kanye’s first time making such demands on the fans during shows, since he expected the possibility of there being someone at the show unable to stand on command for the self proclaimed modern day “Shakespeare”. According to the Daily Mail, Kanye then said’ “This is the longest I’ve had to wait to do a song, it’s unbelievable”. One concertgoer told the tabloid that two fans were not standing up like ordered by the rapper. One fan then waved her prosthetic leg up in the air in hopes of Kanye giving her a pass at having to stand, which Kanye granted the young woman. The second fan still was still sitting due to being in a wheelchair. Even though many people on the audience tried to inform Kanye of the wheelchair, Kanye still wouldn’t continue performing “Good Life” until he could verify the wheelchair’s existence. Once the singer’s bodyguard, Pascal, could make it through the crowd to see the wheelchair for himself, he motioned to Kanye in the affirmative. Kanye then said into the microphone “He’s in a wheelchair? It’s fine!”, and continued to perform his music for the now vertical fans.
In similar fashion, Disturbed’s frontman David Draiman, also took issue with an audience member who wasn’t performing up to the lead singer’s expectations. In a video uploaded to YouTube titled “Disturbed puts woman in her place”, on March 23rd of this year Disturbed was performing a rock show at House Of Blues, when suddenly Draiman stopped the show to scold a woman in the balcony. “Oh, up in the balcony, what am I gonna do with you?” Draiman said. He continued, “Especially this one. Yeah, you, the brunette. Yeah. Hi, how are you. So what is so important going on in the world that you need to be texting the entire fucking show? The whole show!”, he continued, “You’re right up front; I can see you clear as day. You’ve had your face in your fucking phone the whole goddamn show. Are we that boring?” While we can’t hear her response, we hear Draiman then go on to say, “Don’t tell me to go fucking kill myself; you already did by looking in your phone instead of paying attention”, he then turns to the rest of the audience, “I’m not wrong. Am I wrong? If you were up here and I did that to you, how would you feel? Seriously! It’s fucking rude. It is! If you don’t wanna watch, don’t watch, but don’t stand there in front of the fucking stage in the front row of the balcony where everybody can see you texting the whole fucking time on your phone”. Draiman then wraps up his rock star tantrum with, “I’ll tell you what. Can I at least have your word that I will have your attention for the rest of whatever’s left of the set?” He then turns to the audience one last time and says, “Now she’s all pissed off. She thinks that I did something wrong to her. I love it. Welcome to the age of the Internet, ladies and fucking gentlemen” before returning to performing. Close to a week later the fan spoke out to The Dallas Observer regarding the incident. It turns out, Shannon Pardue, had an important reason to be looking to her phone at the time. Her 14 year old daughter was at home at the time, and there were nasty hail storms moving through the area.
With the price of shows today, shouldn’t the acts be more concerned with the performance they’re giving, and less concerned with the performance they’re getting? Since when do fans owe these entertainers the price of constant attention, on top of the price of admission? If they can dictate our actions when we pay to see concerts, I would hate to see what they expect from those who attend a free show. Kanye, Draiman, and anyone else who feels they aren’t quite center of attention enough during their concerts, should take a lesson from Beyoncé. During a May 4th concert this year, one fan was caught reading a book during her performance. For granted, he was busted by other concert goers and not by Beyoncé herself. However, Beyoncé has not lashed out to the man for failing to catch every moment of her show, and other fans in attendance are able to laugh about the incident. When one fellow concertgoer, Michelle Gardner, posted a video of the man reading a book while seated, other Twitter users tried to best caption the image with some humor. Gardner herself wrote “When your wife makes you go to a @Beyonce concert with her.”
Whether you’re looking out to a sea of screaming teenagers, a group of moshers in a pit, or a crowd that looks like an “early bird special”, one should simply be thankful people show up at all, let alone pay the price of admission. I hope all entertainers realize the purchase of a ticket is a one way contract. The act is obligated to perform the concert on the agreed upon date, or to issue a refund if unable to perform at that time. There is no contract from the buyer to the seller, once the price has been paid, and therefor no longer any obligation.