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Live show etiquette... is this why we can't have nice things?

Live show etiquette... is this why we can't have nice things?

With COVID-19 restrictions easing and artists getting back on the road again, it has become alarmingly clear that some concert-goers have forgotten how to respect artists in their places of work - and what is meant to be a safe space for both the artist and the audience to enjoy the joint experience of a live show together.

When Mitski tweeted recently that people in the audience filming her entire set on their phones made her feel a disconnect between herself and the crowd, she explained: “But sometimes when I see people filming entire songs or whole sets, it makes me feel as though we are not here together. This goes for both when I’m on stage, and when I’m an audience member at shows... When I’m on stage and look to you but you are gazing into a screen, it makes me feel as though those of us on stage are being taken from and consumed as content, instead of getting to share a moment with you. Ultimately it’s your night, and I want you to enjoy it as you like. I don’t want to be greedy, I’m fortunate to get to play! Just putting out there that sometimes, if we’re lucky, we can experience magic at a show."

Fans and foes of Mitski alike dog-piled on the statement, ultimately leading to the thread being deleted. 

Clairo recently rescheduled 'Sling' tour dates after she came down with a sinus infection. Via an Instagram story, the artist ended her announcement saying: "I also just need to take a step back from performing in general (for a little bit) I hope you understand." This statement comes alarmingly soon after videos were shared online of concert-goers shouting, "You're so hot," during a performance of 'Blouse' (a song that details her experiences of being sexualised in the workplace) at a recent show. 

This all comes eerily soon alongside the rise of the 'tiktokification' of 'sad girl' female artists like Mitski, Clairo, Phoebe Bridgers, and more recently, Lucy Dacus. With the term 'tiktokification' referring to the reduction of these artists down to a 'sad girl' mentality, downplaying these women's emotional experiences and characterising them by their trauma, or demanding they be something that they're not.

In response to a fan saying her music is for "sad bitches", Mitski said earlier this year: "The sad girl thing was reductive and tired 5-10 years ago and it still is today. Let's retire the sad girl shit, because sad girl is over."

Last year, Lorde faced similar criticism over her latest album, 'Solar Power', in which she finds a new sense of joy, with critical fans mourning the one-dimensional 'sad version' of Lorde that they thought they knew.  

It's hard to know where the line between adoration and disrespect lies when it comes to supporting artists...

Is shouting aggressively complimentary statements during a sensitive song loving?

Is filming your favourite artist's entire set causing a disconnect?

Is it reductive to stereotype women artists by personas forced upon them?

It's all a lot to think about, but it's hard to sit back and watch this snowball into a toxic real-world environment that artists are now having to endure as a part of sharing their art.

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