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Concert PDA Is Not Okay

You wouldn’t fingerbang at a bus stop, so why is being at a concert any different?
June 1, 2014, 5:15pm

On the whole, I really enjoy going to concerts. A good gig, whether by a band I know well or one I’m seeing for the first time, can make me feel alive. Unless something ruins it. Or, more specifically, two things, coming together in slimy congress.

When I’m at a show, I’m there to watch bands play. Sure, I’ll drink and socialize, but really, I want to watch the band because, well, that’s the whole reason I’m there. So imagine my dismay—or rather my sheer, abject horror—the other night while I was at the Studio at Webster Hall watching Foxing when I noticed (as if there were any way not to notice) the couple right in front of me, making out like a pair of giddy teenagers who’d fucked for the very first time just minutes before. Maybe they had—I didn’t ask—but they both looked like they were in their 30s and should have known better.


I was suddenly transfixed by their sensual dancing, their slow-motion twerking, their hip- and butt-thrusting. All of it was out of sync with the band’s twinkling, wistful, star-gazing tunes, but, as much as I wanted to, I couldn't stop watching them. There was back rubbing and ear nibbling, sideways dancing and tender licks to the neck. At one point, the guy was pulling on his girlfriend’s belt loop (or maybe he was pushing on some pressure point) and her leg was kind of jerking up and down, the way a dog’s hind leg twitches when you’re petting its sweet spot.

Look, I like seeing couples, young or old, who look like they’re in love. I think it’s sweet when a husband and wife go to a concert together. But there are limits, people! I don’t want to see you re-enacting the kind of things you do to each other when you’re naked and in the privacy of your own home, and I don’t imagine anyone else does either.

Public displays of affection can be a bit much in any setting. But when it’s a confined public space that people have paid to get into and you’re blissfully swapping teaspoonfuls of saliva (and maybe even other bodily fluids), then it’s really not cool. Trust me, no one needs to watch your boyfriend’s hands pant-diving down past your presumably sweaty butt crack into whatever clammy mess lies beyond, nor do they need to see you two awkwardly re-enacting the last time he fucked you from behind. It’s not just gross, it’s lame. Yet for some reason, it still happens. The other night wasn’t the first time some selfish, horny idiots have ruined a great band for me, but I’m sure that every time I hear Foxing from now on, that’s what I’m going to be thinking about.

We'll make an exception if the artist decides to get involved

When you’re tongue deep in someone else at a gig, it’s incredibly rude and obnoxious to everyone around you. It’s worse if it’s a tiny venue where even the band can probably see you, but even if you’re at an arena watching Miley Cyrus ride a hotdog, don’t do it. You wouldn’t fingerbang at a bus stop, so why is being at a concert any different? It’s a public space. Making out is a private thing. That’s not a hard distinction to make. Maybe people should be thrown out of venues if they cross that line of common decency to the point that their PDA is affecting the experience of the show. There used to be a great venue in London called The Luminaire that would tell people off (and then, if that didn’t work, kick them out) for talking at a show, so maybe some kind of rule system can be implemented for excessive PDA.


Also—and this seems somewhat dumb to point out, but whatever—watching bands live is very different to listening to their record. It’s an interactive experience. They move around and talk and do interesting and exciting things. Sometimes they tell stories before songs, sometimes they jump around, and usually they’ll engage with the crowd. There’s personality and meaning infused in how the song is performed by whoever’s onstage, and if your eyes are closed and your tongue or fingers are shoved somewhere they shouldn’t be, you’re missing out. Not to mention you're making the experience wholly miserable for everyone in your immediate vicinity. If I wanted to watch people getting it on, there are places I could pay to go and see that stuff. Or I could make use of my laptop, where they’d be naked and better looking.

When I’m at a concert, I want to watch bands. I have, in fact, chosen that very moment in time to do so in a place designed for people to do so. Presumably, that’s why you’re there too, otherwise you wouldn’t have bought a ticket, and you wouldn’t be there. And if it’s a support band you don’t like? You know what? There’ll be other people there who do like them, so don’t ruin it for them. If you really have to make out right that instant because you’re seized by a sudden and uncontrollable surge of lust, go to the fucking bathroom and let your juices flow there. Otherwise, have some respect for those around you and have some respect for the band playing onstage. Most importantly, have some self-respect. And you never know, you might enjoy the band if you actually watch them.


Mischa Pearlman is the guy at the concert practicing making out with his own hand.


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