Even with musical genres melting into one another like so many popsicles kept in a broken freezer, the Show is one place where fashion, topical norms and geography all come together to help us identify one another. People dress up to go to shows, often wearing what they wouldn't during the day to help them feel part of the action and/or fuse with their musical brethren. Given that youngsters are particularly eclectic these days, here's a short guide to what to expect when you step out into a live music situation of your choosing.
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The Uniform: For both guys and girls, it's all black, almost all of the time. And the more clothing, typically the better - guys tend to be decked out in sweatshirts and larger pants, as Fear of Hipsterdom keeps tighter or close fitting clothing out of the mosh pit. Ladies are allowed more leeway and ripped Bathory shirts and tights and (feminine) spikes seem a constant.
The Scene: Less gleeful than the crowd you'll hang out with at Burning Man, that's for sure. Metal people aren't unfriendly, necessarily, but it's a group of people who - by nature - tend to be comfortable with wearing graphics of exploding skulls on their chests, so don't anticipate a million hugs or offers of back massages.
What The Artist Expects: Metal is not a spectator sport, and bands frequently will ask (yell) for a pit, for metal horns, for more, more, more. Clap politely after a song (or at all, really) and you'll look like a goof. Scream and throw up the horns, and you'll fit right in. Standing around won't work, and might result in an elbow to the face if you've got your arms crossed and aren't watching how people are moving around you.
What The Crowd Expects: Lots of rock, riffs by the ass-load, and total shredding.
The Uniform: Hip-hop shows are odd in that it can feel casual (shirts and t-shirts) or as fancy as like one of those club scenes in a T-Pain video that don't seem to exist in real life.
The Crowd: It's always nice to see actual, good dancing at shows, and there's a high chance of that here. If you're at Usher, there's a chance of him getting kicked in the face.
What The Artist Expects: A lot - hands in the air, (waved) like you don't care, maybe some call and response, like "Hip! Hop!" and possibly for you to shake dat ass.
What The Crowd Expects: If it's a rap show, probably a bunch of hits spliced up into other songs, with each no longer than a minute.
The Uniform: Seemingly casual clothing that tries to split the difference between caring too much and caring just enough. Plaid shirts, glasses and maybe bike apparel for the guys, and a variation on that for the girls.
The Crowd: Don't expect a lot of effusive emotion from this gang, more like nuance and practiced shrugs so precise that they can only be detected with the most sensitive of sensitivity-sensitive instruments.
What The Artist Expects: Every once in a while you may be sheepishly asked to clap along or even hum a part of a song, but mostly what they'd like is for you to enjoy their music and laugh at hammy between-songs banter.
What The Crowd Expects: Something to brag about later.
Image From Gamespot
The Uniform: A multi-colored vomit of tight, bright clothing and all the rave trappings combined with some sort of Urban Outfitters catalog explosion.
The Crowd: Lots of kids, most of whom really are out to have a good time, maybe partake in drugs, and definitely partake in some wonky bass.
What The Artist Expects: DJs want you to move, and that's their modus operandi. If they can't manage that, it's probably their fault.
What The Crowd Expects: BASS, the more wobbly, the better. WAIT FOR THE DROP...