Ask Dr. Rock

What's the biggest annoyance at rock shows?
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Question: What's the biggest annoyance at rock shows?

Guardian calendar editor Duncan Scott Davidson answers: Loudmouths. Hecklers are usually silenced quickly enough, but it's the person who thinks his or her banal conversation is more important than the band that drives me apeshit. A few months ago at 12 Galaxies, some guy behind me talked through 16 Horsepower's set. I guess he thought he'd score underground cultural cred by asking his date to see a random band she'd never heard of. He got a little lubricated and soliloquized at a volume greater than that of the group, while positioned only a few feet from the stage. Simple etiquette, folks: would you go to a movie and shout through the whole thing? And that film may screen five times a day at five different theaters, whereas an out-of-town band may not play here for another year, if ever.

I bonded with the guy beside me over lover boy's boorishness. "Let's rush him," he said. Instead, I turned to the happy couple and said, "Excuse me, I don't mean to be rude, but would it be OK if I asked you two to talk by the bar? I'm having a hard time hearing the band." At which point the dude started to tell me it wasn't OK and I was being rude. Fortunately, the loudmouth's date, being more attuned to social mores and imminent bodily harm, spoke up, saying it was a perfectly acceptable request.

Remember, at a show it's never a bad idea to assume that people have come to see — and hear — the band. This type of cultural absolutism makes snooty Yale professors weep, but I say rock 'n' roll is high art, and people should be allowed to appreciate it without interference. For my money, a quiet café or restaurant is a better place for a date conversation. Maybe a bar or a dance club, if you enjoy shouting at your love interest.

Are you a musical artist with pressing career questions? Or a puzzled fan looking for answers to pop culture's little unmentionables? E-mail askdrrock@sfbg.com.

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