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Blog: Talking At Gigs: The Pub Quiz Paradigm

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Last night I played a gig (which I'll bang on about in a minute) where people were sat right at the front, talking INCREDIBLY loudly, refusing to stop when asked politely by five different sets of people (including barstaff) and me twice. People Talking At Gigs like this is not a new phenomenon - INDEED it has happened, and been discussed, ever since there have BEEN gigs. When the first cavemen banged rocks together rythmically for the first time i bet there was somebody nearby going on and on about the time they single handedly killed a mammoth, insisting when confronted that they had come to the clearing to socialise with their friends, and why shouldn't they grunt as loudly as they liked?

And it has always been a KNOTTY ISSUE. Some people seem to want gigs to occur in UTTER SILENCE, with the audience RAPT, looking up adoringly at the performers, hanging on their every word. Others would suggest that music occurs in a social setting and should be PART of that setting, enjoyed by everyone in their own way. From the point of view of someone on stage it would be NICE if everyone DID listen to you, but also you know you have to WORK for their attention, and actually the interaction can improve things. Meanwhile, if you're in the audience, you want the freedom to talk to YOUR friends if you'd like to, especially if the performance is a bit dull, but also want to be able to HEAR the music that you've come on purpose to listen to, without someone else ruining it for you.

What to do? How to GAUGE one's reaction? FEAR NOT EVERYBODY, for LO! I have completely solved the issue with one simple THORT, and it goes like THIS:

The Pub Quiz Paradigm

Would this behaviour be acceptable at a Pub Quiz?

And that's pretty much it. Whenever happens the Talking At Gigs issues arises ask yourself "Would this behaviour be acceptable at a Pub Quiz?" and you will have found the correct response. Here's some examples (NOTE: In this metaphor "Quiz" is a gig, "Quiz Master" refers to "Performer", "Questions" are "Songs" and "Pub" is ... well, a pub, or venue, or wherever you are).

Case Study One: Group Of People Loudly Talking Right At The Front, Only Engaging With The Performance By Applauding And Whooping Loudly At The End Of Every Song
Would this behaviour be acceptable at a Pub Quiz?
Clearly not. Everyone else has gathered to take part in the quiz, and these people are stopping them from hearing the questions. They clearly know this from their other actions and are taking delight in spoiling it for others. There are other rooms in the pub they can sit in for their social occasion, and indeed other pubs, and so should be asked politely if they could go and sit there instead please.

Case Study Two: Two Friends Having A Quiet Chat At The Bar, Blotting Out The Performer
Would this behaviour be acceptable at a Pub Quiz?
Pretty much, yes - if they become too boisterous then we move into similar territory to Case Study One but, really, it IS a pub where people have come to socialise and in this day and age we DO have PA systems which should make you loud enough to be heard over them. If they are too distracting for everyone then the fault may be with the Quiz Master having uninteresting questions or poor microphone technique.

Case Study Three: Making 'Amusing' Remarks After Every Song
Would this behaviour be acceptable at a Pub Quiz?
Yes - indeed it is all part of the fun of a live performance - after all, if you want to answer quiz questions alone with no interaction there's always the Deal Or No Deal machine in the corner (NB or "IPod", metaphorically speaking). If someone does this after EVERY question then one would expect their friends to tell them to pack it in, or at least distract them with CRISPS. If you're the sort of person who LOVES the attention gained by doing this, maybe you should think about spending some time practicing and then starting your OWN Pub Quiz?

Case Study Four: Joining In With Everything
Would this behaviour be acceptable at a Pub Quiz?
YES! Again, if you want to do a quiz in ABSOLUTE SILENCE, get a Quiz Book. If someone is joining in with EVERY answer, loudly, so you can't hear it then yes, that's annoying, but they ARE enjoying the same thing you're there for, they're just KEEN. Try moving to a different table.

Case Study Five: The Whole Event Is Incredibly Boring And Goes On Forever And, When You Mention This Quietly To A Friend, Everyone GLARES At You
Would this behaviour be acceptable at a Pub Quiz?
No, but alas it does happen - you might have been hoping for a fun, jolly night out, but everyone else is obviously being FAR TOO SERIOUS about it all. They probably have rubbish Team Names like "Dave And Ken And Margaret" and FROWN upon the mild LEWDNESS in the name you have chosen. There may be things going on you don't know about - perhaps it is a long running event, maybe something is at stake, or maybe the Quiz Master has earnt everyone's respect in another way. Whatever it is, it is clear that there is no GOOD TIMES to be had for you, so rather than complain about it or Get Arsey (and risk turning into one of Those Kind Of People who've annoyed YOU at other quizes) I always find it is best to cut your losses and clear off. After all, there will be other, better, quizes in the near future and better places to have a pint in.

So there you go, The Pub Quiz Paradigm. I think that answers ALL questions to do with the issue, which, if adopted worldwide, will stop anybody else in the future having to bellow "WILL YOU JUST SHUT THE FCUK UP!" at an audience member and then feel TERRIBLE about it all the next day...

posted 7/1/2011 by MJ Hibbett

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I've used the line "Do you want me to ask them to turn the music down so you can hear yourselves better?" That usually works. But that may also be because I'm quite a big scary looking bloke.
posted 7/1/2011 by Simon Fox

i don't feel terrible ;)
posted 7/1/2011 by Steve

My pet hate is people talking loudly at gigs. Personally speaking I'd have given them a good kicking and then told them to do one. It's disrespectful in my view. If people want to sing along to a song, that's perfectly fine, but we don't want to hear endless gossip and chatter about who X and Y are going out with, thanks very much.
posted 9/1/2011 by Warren

It's wrong if it's acoustic or a quiet song. I feel it's slightly more acceptable for people at the back to talk, but what's REALLY annoying is when people come right to the front and then talk/shout over the performance and don't even take any notice of it.
posted 31/1/2011 by Alex

I find this isn't an issue at small gigs (at lovely venues like the luminaire (RIP), the Lexington, and That Pub Hibbett Seems To Live In), because everyone is lovely. But the problem is I've spent so much of the past five years going to small gigs that when I go to large gigs (you know, like the Brixton Academy or the Kentish Town Forum or something.) I'm properly TAKEN ABACK by the rudeness of the punters, with their shouting and their talking and their taking blurry pictures with their iphones and their tactically being tall in front of tiny people* throughout, thus blocking my view. So I barely go any more. It's a shame because whereas before I'd stop going to see bands when they got to the Wembley Arena size, now I have to stop going to see bands when they get to the mid-range venue stage. Which is really STUPID and ELITIST and I should probably GET OVER MYSELF. * ok this is harder to criticise.
posted 31/1/2011 by jamboshoeshine

My comment made it sound like I am tiny. I am not. I often enjoy the company of tiny people however.
posted 31/1/2011 by jamboshoeshine

I too have pretty much stopped going to massive gigs, it's LOVELY. No more RAGE, no more FUMING at beer prices, instead lots more going to nice pubs Actually Seeing bands and Actually Hearing them too. There'll always be more bands along anyway, so when the current lot go to bigger venues just wait five minutes and there'll be about a MILLION more!
posted 31/1/2011 by MJ Hibbett

Suppose the quiz master has one question in which he invites the audience to shout out a few of the words in the middle of the question. Is it acceptable for an individual to add extra words to the standard expected audience contribution? What about if the extra words constitute an affection but somewhat harsh sounding ribbing of the quizmaster? I have sleepless nights over this situation although, naturally, it is not one in which I have ever found myself as the protagonist in real life. and certainly not repeatedly.
posted 31/1/2011 by Worried of New Zealand

For us insensitive types who are easily bored, I find that shutting up when someone asks you to usually works.
posted 2/2/2011 by Will

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