I’ve blogged before about how contemporary society has coarsened and become careless about simple courtesy, such as RSVPing, returning messages, and cussing in public.
I’ve been noticing another example of how we’re all getting ruder and louder and more selfish.
I had the opportunity recently to see Diana Krall in concert. She’s been one of our favorite musicians for quite a while. A few years ago when we were in the midst of some severe trials, her music buoyed us and helped us keep on. We’d get more bad news, look at each other, and say, “Time to go buy another CD.” Ms. Krall doesn’t tour often and gets to the west coast even less often, so we were thrilled that she was coming to a small historic theater an hour from home. We bought our tickets months ahead, as soon as we knew about it. We waited and anticipated a fun evening.
When we arrived, the ticket takers said, “If you have to leave the theatre, please wait until the end of the song to return to your seat.” They made eye contact while saying this. The lobby was lined with signs that said the same thing. The restroom mirrors had the signs. There was no way you could enter that concert without knowing the expected behavior.
Sure enough, during the first song, a couple with drinks in hand, scooched along the front row to take their seats. Not thirty seconds later they stood and scooched back to a different pair of seats.
Ms. Krall and her trio played a few more minutes, then paused to welcome the audience. She barely opened her mouth and people started yelling, “We love you, Diana!” and “Tell about Rio!” She sighed. Said, “I love you, too.” Every time she tried to talk, people yelled comments. “Where’s Elvis?” was next.
When did buying a concert ticket give us the right to badger and interrupt the performer? When did knowing and loving someone’s work become an illusion that we have a relationship? And when did it become okay to treat a theatre or club or concert hall like our living room? People in the front row at the Krall concert placed their drinks at the edge of the stage. Ms. Krall did say to the late arriving scoochers, “This isn’t a bar,” and soon the drinks were removed.
She responded with grace and courtesy to the boors who called themselves fans. Too bad they don’t give her the same honor and courtesy to perform for those of us who were there to listen to her music, not find out if Elvis had left the building.