On Audiences

Dancing is legal in all 50 states, but you would never know it from going to a Carnegie Mellon concert. Last Tuesday, the 8-Bit Alliance Tour rocked Rangos, but there was no fever pitch. As New York’s Anamanaguchi played the last act of their month-long U.S. tour, I couldn’t help but notice that our crowd was stiff and our emotions dissonant.

With no kick from the crowd, Anamanguchi was surprisingly upbeat. I wondered what it would be like to follow these guys with a camera on a concert tour.

I’ve always found rock documentaries a little funny because, while you follow the band through their trials and tribulations, you also follow their audience. A good audience is what butters a musician’s bread. Audiences should learn how to give their performers a good show because concerts aren’t cheap, and it’s hard to get what you pay for. Concert documentaries have to be the best way to learn to dance and feel comfortable looking like an idiot.

The Rolling Stones have documentaries like Shine a Light and Gimme Shelter. They are the head-banging concert documentaries that, when made by such famous directors as Martin Scorsese and the Maysles brothers, have inspired the rest. The Maysleses revealed a harrowing image in 1970 with Gimme Shelter. I personally prefer the documentary A Skin a Night that followed the band The National. Under Great White Northern Lights, the documentary about The White Stripes, was screened on campus just last week.

Concerts have the potential to become amazing experiences, but I wonder if people don’t see them that way. I remember watching The National’s concert documentary and thinking I would give anything to be at that show. Maybe that was when I stopped standing at concerts and started dancing.

Why doesn’t Carnegie Mellon have more dancing at concerts? I don’t know. I just hope we do our part and get a great concert someday. Besides, if no one else is dancing, I just look like an idiot.

-Stephen Epple