Lost in a Crowd: Why are audiences different?

I’m in research mode again, and for some reason, that always makes me a little more inquisitive about the human condition…or the fan condition, since that’s appropriate here!

I wrote about Lollapalooza yesterday, or at least about the crowd. Admittedly, I’m at least partially fascinated by it because I’ve never seen anything like it at any of the shows I’ve been. No, I don’t go to festivals, and but even if I had—I just don’t think we draw the same sort of crowd. But, I wasn’t sure, so I checked!

As a sort of baseline for myself, I started with what I knew. I couldn’t find a firm attendance number for Voodoo Fest in 2006, but I do know that the following year’s crowd shattered all previous records at just over 100,000 for the three days.  That tells me that however many people stood watching Duran with me the year before, it probably was not as many as Lollapalooza in Argentina. This was not a surprise, but I decided to go check Coachella’s figures.

According to Forbes.com, Coachella averages about 99,000 on each weekend (it runs over two weekends).  Lollapalooza is at 300,000…but this is the US Lollapalooza, because the article was comparing US music festivals in terms of attendance, ticket price, and cost to hydrate (water bottles).

 

So in terms of attendance, I was wrong. They’ve played to nearly the same amount of people here on occasion.  I just don’t remember it being such a big deal. Do you?

Before someone emails me, yes – I read John’s book and yes, I saw he mentioned it in there. I can remember when John alluded to being on the bill for Coachella right on Twitter and there was no denying his excitement. I remember seeing the show online, and I remember the band commenting about how cool it was, too. So there is that. But somehow, I felt like Lollapalooza was different. I wasn’t there, but I’ve seen the show. I really watched the crowd whenever the camera panned over them. It was very different from anything I’ve ever seen.

First of all, I think my (American) culture very much plays into this. I’d love to say we’re a peaceful people. I’d love to say we’re full of love and joy….and to some extent, we are and do. But, we’re also big into territory and personal space. We build fences around our property. (no political comments necessary) We like to know that what is ours, is ours alone. I don’t find that Americans are an especially “huggy” sort of people. I tend to stick out my hand before I ever offer a hug, for instance. Here, we hug our friends and people we love, like family. Other countries hug, go for a kiss on the cheek, or even both cheeks. We’re not used to that so much here. Suffice to say, if I’ve hugged you, it’s because we’re good friends and I care about you. I’ve had to get used to the fact that Duranies are pretty huggy people!  So, at festivals, and even GA shows, while most other cultures don’t mind being on top of one another for hours on end, it (can) make an *American’s skin crawl.

In watching the footage from Argentina, I saw a lot of generally good partying going on. People clapping, hugging, laughing… I think that happens here too, but maybe to a lesser extent?  I don’t know, at the shows I’ve been to (and I have been to more than one festival in my life, just to be clear), it seems as though while MOST people are there to have a good time, there always seems to be a group of people who, for some reason, are out to ruin it for everyone else.  I can point to any number of things that ignite that behavior: drugs, alcohol, anger…lack of space, lack of food, etc.

Anger is a weird thing here because it seems like for any celebratory thing that happens, it creates anger as some sort of side effect. I don’t know how often this happens in other parts of the world, but I know it happens here frequently enough to take notice.

I suppose to most people, this type of thing isn’t very interesting, but to me it is, particularly because I think it may influence fandom. My friends from South America tell me that there is nothing like the audiences there, and I really just want to understand why that is the case.

Maybe what Amanda and I need to do is research audiences!

“Sorry honey, I have to go on a business trip around the world to research audience reactions and see what correlations exist between audiences and cultures.” 

Somehow, I doubt he’d buy it, but it’s an interesting thought.

I will still end with the same thought I had yesterday: I wish our audiences could excite the band as much as the Lollapalooza audience did the other day. While I personally am not anxious to be in a crowd of that magnitude, I would love the band to see how much they are loved here in the states. For as often as they visit the states, it would be nice for them to feel that same sort of gratitude from us.

-R

*The caveat being that I’m finding younger generations—younger festival goers, for example—are a little less “this is YOUR space and this is MY space” than say, I might be.  My kids don’t have quite as big of a hang-up about space (among other things), for example. I have some theories about why that may be, but I’ll save that for another day.

 

 

One thought on “Lost in a Crowd: Why are audiences different?”

  1. This topic is really interesting and I also recognized that the crowds at the shows around the world are really different.
    I am from Germany and I saw shows all over Europe and Canada.
    And I agree that cultures plays into it but also mentality.
    In Europe the crowds in the Southern countries like Italy, Spain, Portugal are much enthusiastic and the Northern countries are more reserved.
    There are even big differences between the crowds in Germany.
    The people in Munich are much more enthusiastic than the people from Hamburg.
    Maybe it has also something to do with the climate (temperatures, hours of sunshine etc.).

    You don’t need to go the big festivals to learn about it.

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