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Sunday, 30 April 2017

Blowing the whistle on people whistling at gigs

You know how to whistle, don't you? You just put your lips together and blow.

Yeah, I know how to whistle, thanks. And unfortunately so do some of the people that go to the same gigs as me. Why's that a problem? Well ... SCREEEEEEEEEEEEEECHHHHHHH! And ... PHSIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIISSSSSSSSSSST!

Sorry, some idiot was whistling right by me just now ...

It's quite simple really. I go to gigs to hear some musicians do their stuff (good, mediocre, whatever) not some show-off guy (it's usually a man) doing one of those very piercing, high-volume whistles at the end of each song. Not only is it excruciatingly dull (whistling in the gaps between songs with metronomic predictability), but its laddish exhibitionism is the exact opposite of what I like about gigs in the first place. (Hey, look at me everyone! Check out MY appreciation of the band. Cool, eh?)

This sort of behaviour drags any musical event down. Similarly, those shouts of "yeahhhh!" - always now done in pseudo-American accents as if the humble British gig-goer can only be openly enthusiastic if disguised as an American. Dull.

No, in general I prefer an audience (preferably small in the first place) that's rather parsimonious with its appreciation. A little light clapping will do. Be grudging with your responses, not fawning over every small thing the band does. I usually refrain from even clapping if everyone else is whooping and frenziedly applauding. What's the point? The only time I actually make an effort with a bit of (relatively) sustained applause is when there's a single-figures-type audience and er, every pair of clapping hands counts.

It's a fine line sometimes. It's actually better if an audience almost doesn't like (or doesn't care about) the musicians out front supposedly entertaining them. As with those restaurant-bar affairs where a jazz pianist is toiling aware in the background just to provide a little atmosphere for the diners. Or, more interestingly, like those occasions where the band shows something like actual disdain for the audience (Sex Pistols, Selfish Cunt), which is quickly reciprocated by those watching.

But back to whistling. On the one hand it's out-of-fashion in everyday life (when did you last hear someone whistling to themselves in the street?), yet on the other it's often excellent when used in musical compositions themselves. Meanwhile, during the heyday of raves it was virtually a requirement for audiences to go along with referee-type whistles, shrilly blowing away to the thumping house beats and acting as if they were contributing to the music themselves (they sort of were).

That was different though. Exhibitionists whistling at small indie-type gigs are just irritants. On this blog I've previously moaned about all sorts of annoying behaviour at gigs - from audience and bands alike. Niluccio, the moaner-in-chief. It's almost like I'm a sort of traffic cop or referee. PHSIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIISSSSSSSSSSST. Yes! I'm blowing the whistle on people whistling at gigs ...



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