Annoying and abusive metal crowd behavior

Annoying metal crowd behaviors is something that’s been a hot topic for quite some time. I figured it would be fun to give my two cents. I’ll dive into the classics: smartphone filming, social media, violent and abusing behavior, boozy good times, and I’ll also give a second opinion on a different article on metal crowds.

About me –, music and more

Stefan Nordström - metal musician and content creator
  • Stefan Nordström
  • Musician, songwriter, content creator, digital freelancer
  • Stockholm, Sweden
  • Bands: Desolator, Soliloquium, Ending Quest, Ashes of Life, Trees of Daymare, The Ashen Tree
  • Social: Facebook | Instagram | YouTube

Filming, pictures and smartphones

Different people have different triggers, but my main one is certainly smartphone filming. Yeah, get your pic or clip, but please don’t push a phone in my face for 7 minutes straight. Some people and there to be in the moment, not watch someone pay 40 euro to film shitty, shaky footage, and ruining other people’s experience in the process.

This especially annoys me in the front rows, because there is usually movement and not much space yet there is this expectation to steer clear of the smartphone sights. No, the rest of the crowd won’t, and probably can’t. If you want an undisturbed environment to record content, I recommend the photo pit.

Disclaimer: yeah, I’m an Instagram microinfluencer, or whatever the up to date kids call it, but there’s a reason my gig pics look like shit. I take quick shots during the weakest songs in the set, if any. Don’t want to see that damn smartphone. 

Violent and abusive behavior at metal shows

Now that I’ve gone through my stand on smartphones and other social media-related phenomenons, I want to clarify: I don’t think uncalled for intensity is OK either. Metal Gandalf story time incoming below, kids.

But the difference between uncalled for and what just happens at shows can be hard to distinguish. I witnessed a person get her nose kicked in by a dumbass, spastic crowdsurfer (Suffocation, Rockstadt Extreme Fest 2017), and I watched an entire crowd collectively throw out an uber-aggressive dude looking for trouble (Immolation, Brutal Assault 2015). Not to mention getting sucker-punched in the groin (Skitsystem, Stockholm, 2012), and seeing an overly aggressive dude rather rightfully getting the shit beat out of him on the concert floor (Entombed, Märsta, 2012).

This said, I’ve attended more gigs where people in the front row want to be “left alone”, and other things that just aren’t possible. If you want to personal space, peace and quiet, the first few rows or the pit are not the places to go. There will safe spaces in other parts of the venue, where you won’t need to tell off those who are enjoying the gig in a different way. I know opinions differ on this, but it’s definitely my two cents. The other side of course is to not act like a maniac when you crowdsurf (see Rockstadt 2017 story).

These nuances are also very important for venue staff to be aware of. The recent incident involving Bodysnatcher is dumb as hell, and easily avoidable. If you book bands, the staff needs to be aware of what goes down; what is normal for a show of this type, and what is not? It’s a beatdown deathcore dance type band – prepare or just don’t book those type of bands. Similarly, this applies to the audience as well.

Also, I barely want to get into the douchebags that touch up girls, and in other ways make them feel uncomfortable at metal shows. Shouldn’t need to be said/repeated, but you’re scum.

What about talking and goofing around?

Many people are annoyed with unengaged, sometimes drunk people who talk and laugh through the show. This especially happens at festivals where many wind up going to random shows. And yeah, it’s definitely something that can be annoying. 

But there’s a huge difference between cheering in Jäger over and over again at a Testament show, and acting similar at an intimate, atmospheric show. This is an aspect where you really need to read the room. I’ve definitely been guilty of a few fuckups here, intentional and unintentional. These, however, occurred in the middle of big festival crowds or in the back. I don’t head up to the front, unless I intend to thoroughly immerse myself in the gig. Many could learn from that.

Alcohol and drunk people at shows – annoying?

I guess talking and goofing around also leads us to the elephant in the room: the booze. Many people are really tired of people who are stumbling around and dropping their drinks all over the place, and I can see why. Personally, I definitely indulge in a beer or seven at most metal gigs and festivals, as it’s simply a part of the experience for me. But I’d never get blacked the fuck out and pass out at a gig I actually care about.

Booze or not, I still think it’s about how the individual chooses to read the concert/festival environment and act. After all, there are shows where a rowdy, pissed up crowd fits perfectly. Thrash metal comes to mind, and sillyness like Gutalax, Spasm, Rectal Smegma and other awesome goregrind novelties definitely do.

Gutalax – The type of metal concert where I’d say it’s completely OK to be drunk and rowdy

Different genres and styles

As I’ve already been getting into a few times, the genre and setting has a huge impact on what I consider acceptable audience behavior. Generally, open air festivals are more free game, simply because people come and go from gigs on different stages. The more extreme the music, the more likely the crowd will be rowdy and physical.

This should affect how physical/active you decide to be, but also what you will be willing to accept. There are safe spaces if you want to escape rough and tumble, sweat and potential injuries.

Geography and metal crowds

Also, metal crowds in different countries have vastly different cultures. See the same tour package in Sweden and Czech Republic, for instance, and you will likely notice a huge difference. Nordic audiences are, contrary to popular belief, among the more reserved.

Cross the Atlantic and go anywhere in America, and in my experience that completely changes. If you attend a metal gig in a foreign country, you need to observe what’s going on and, if necessary, adjust. This is one of many reasons I prefer attending concerts and festivals in other parts of the world to the Nordic countries. Extreme gigs are usually more of an interactive event, for good and bad.

Medium’s list of 6 annoying metal crowd/concert behaviors

I also found several videos and articles about annoying metal crowd behavior. One of them is by Shelby Reeves at Medium, and I find myself agreeing with some, and disagreeing with some. I’d say headbanging and yelling random shit is completely fine, unless it’s a soft show or something like that (read the room, etc). A big thumbs up for going after the smartphone people, though.

Profuse headbanging - not an annoying metal crowd behavior according to me
VOLA live in Bonn, Germany in 2018 right after the lockdowns – I was mildly excited

The one I didn’t include yet, that I find myself agreeing with, is the end point: people who are not having fun. I can understand if you’re tired or if your mood is shit, but if you’re going there grinching, you have no right to impact my show experience. Incidents of these kind have occured, and I’m usually on the “let’s have a good time” team. Life is enough of a funeral as is, don’t need to make the gigs into dread as well.

Summary – annoying metal crowd behavior 

I think my end two cents is that annoying metal crowd behavior and reasonable respect goes two ways. I don’t want a smartphone shoved in my face, but I also don’t want uncalled for violence. Sometimes, the line is thin, and the opinions differ. That’s why we need to discuss these type of things.

Do you agree with my points? Do you have completely different triggers and dislikes? Tell me! And if you appreciate my content, please give my band Soliloquium a shot. If you don’t appreciate emotional/atmospheric type metal, hit up my death metal band Desolator instead.


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