I’ve had it with you. And you. But not you — you’re a real fan.
People who talk incessantly (probably too busy talking to read this) during shows fall into many different categories. Some don't even realize they're being rude. Others are drunk and also oblivious to how their actions affect the people around them. And some know full well and don't give a crap.
Many artists — Ray LaMontagne, Jeff Tweedy, Bruce Springsteen — have been known to stop playing to address the issue from the stage. Neil Young recently posted a long message to his fans titled “Rough Night” describing a boisterous crowd in Detroit: “Unfortunately for the audience, everyone else misses out on what might have happened while I am distracted by those celebrating their favorite song titles, yelling them as loud as they can.”
I still can't listen to Elvis Costello's starkly beautiful “I Want You,” as performed at the Wiltern some years ago, without the memory of some dude yelling while Costello was opening his heart.
But how are we, the paying fan, supposed to deal with jabberers? A few venues (namely the Hollywood Bowl, where gabbing seems to be the norm) encourage patrons to report disruptive behavior to a staff member during the show.
The following are proven tactics, ranked in reverse order of effectiveness.
1. The Long Stare
Also known as “the Evil Eye.” Hold eye contact for at least five seconds. Do not turn away.
2. The Long Stare, Plus Guilt
If you have the nerve, add, “Since you seem to believe you are the show, it's only right that I should listen to you.”
3. The “Shush”
Repeat as necessary.
4. The Tears
I was once so worked up by bros jovially talking like they were in their living room during Roger Waters at Staples Center, it took actual crying to get me to turn around and beg them to stop. They didn't, and I felt even worse. But if your offender has a heart, it could work instantly. And bonus points for making them feel bad.
5. The Bill Holdship
6. The Innocent PAQ (Passive-Aggressive Question)
This one has been tested many times and works really well. Whether it's two people or more talking, usually there is one who is blabbing the most. Get the attention of the others, and gently ask, “Does he/she ever stop talking?” Make sure the major talker hears you. There will be a moment of stunned silence. Works like a charm 85 percent of the time.
7. The Honest Approach
Forget subtlety. Declare firmly, “Your constant conversation is distracting.” You will probably get an angry stare.
8. The Honest Approach, With “Fuck”
Not all of us like to break out the “fuck” the first time. Adding it and making it, “I paid good money to see Paul Simon sing and not to hear you talk, motherfucker” cuts to the chase quicker.
9. The “Shut the Fuck Up!”
Takes gumption to deliver. Never fails when used by a small group, so enlist your fellow music lovers.