Borderline experimental: is it ok to say “fuck you” to the performer?


I don’t know what is about SPEIGAS festival making people want to hit each other, but I kinda start seeing the pattern.

Couple of years ago there was that  disagreement between musicians and the sound guy, this year we had a “let’s dance” moment between headliner and a couple of overwhelmed gentlemen in the audience.

Before I start the rant, I got to say that I am biased because I am an ultimate fangirl of Sudden Infant (to the point where I go to another country just to see him play live), and I think he is a cool dude overall, so I cannot be objective. But of course, being objective is impossible yada yada yada and anyway this post is not about the exact event, but about the attitude of some people who go to Agharta events. 

So, here is the summary: There were two buzz filled guys, who were a) Trying to climb on stage when specifically asked not to; b) Shouting “Fuck you” and random gibberish; c) Lighting the lighters and putting them up as the performance was some sort of acoustic version of “Kumbaya”. I repeatedly asked the guy nearby me not to act like an asshole. Joke repeatedly asked him not to act like an asshole. Then Arma took the other guy away, because apparently organizers have to work as security guards, too. Then the performance continued, and that other guy, who was all in “Kumbaya” spirit, started shouting “Fuck you” again, Joke went down from the stage and pushed him. Then he went back on the stage, the second guy was taken away.

That’s all to the story.

And there were some people not pleased. Because how dare the performer ask the member of the audience not to act like a shithead.

I understand it, of course. I can be the first one to go all mosh-y and “interactive”, because I love experimental music solely for the reason of “why not” – why not take your shirt of, why not push that fat guy, why not drink vodka from a bottle and dryhump that teenager who is so sweaty and stupid. Why not throw old tires from the second floor of the venue. Why not to try to light some wood on fire. Why not go to an old spoon factory in Latvia, when it’s -20 degrees and dance all night to the point where you cannot feel your body.

Why the fuck not.

And all of this “why not” is based on one simple rule of thumb – do your thing, don’t be an asshole to others. I love experimental community in Vilnius because I feel safe and know that even though anything is possible, nothing bad will happen.

If you get pushed, someone will help you stand up, if you are too drunk, someone will bring you home, if you are acting like a shithead, someone will let you know.

Experimental music is a lot about interaction. Good live gigs are like sex – it takes two to party. If a performer hides behind the laptop, it becomes a boring masturbation session in seconds, giving nothing to the audience. If the performer cares about the music, you will understand that passion the second they are on stage. Sometimes you have sex with someone and there is no chemistry between you. Sometimes you listen to a concert which does nothing for you. And that is ok – you don’t need to like everyone. Feedback is always welcome, musicians are always around after the gigs – go to them and tell them how you hated/loved the performance and why.

But it all goes down to the fact that the person on stage is opening up for you. All performances are very personal. They are basically standing naked in front of you, because, again, no one in experimental is there for the money. They are there because of the community, because of being able to express themselves, because we all form a big net of individuals who want to be understood and respected. As a listener, I am there because I like being in the community where there is respect,  different approach and expression towards sound, visuals and philosophy, and it is cool to chat with others over a beer about music, cats, politics, and all in between.

Not respecting the performer is basically saying that “I payed 10 euros for the gig, so now entertain me, peasants”. It is a position of a consumer, and I don’t think that experimental scene is a place for consumers.

The whole experimental music thing is based on listening to each other and interacting. Performers listen to the audience, audience listen to the performers, performers become the audience and the other way round. That is the beauty of experimental scene – anything can happen.

So, back to the question: is it ever ok to say “fuck you” to the performer? 

Of course it is. Especially I recommend it saying it eye-to-eye. Everyone is an adult, most of the people like feedback, and they can probably handle it because they are not teenagers with low self-esteem. On the other side, I also recommend not going to a concert if you feel that your self-esteem today is low, and you want to get attention so badly that you forget that no one, on stage or anywhere else, is there to insult you personally, so you decide to shout “fuck you” to them from the dark.

Feedback is great, there should be more of it. Raising discussions and commenting is wonderful. Interaction is all what the scene is about – just look at Kiras, in the picture on top of the text, drunkedly interacting and not being an asshole.

Just, as anywhere in life, don’t be a fucking asshole and be able to handle your booze.

Photos from Launagis and Živilė: Vilnius; Kaunas

Photos from Lauryna


3 responses to “Borderline experimental: is it ok to say “fuck you” to the performer?

  1. the same thing was with Z’EV show about year ago in Vilnius, when a little drunk over 40 years old guy was shouting that: ” it’s shit, it’s not Z’EV”, so I had to get into conflict with him

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