Idol Thoughts: Fan Behavior

Sorry for the late post, but I got this idea and couldn’t stop it.

Last night I went and saw Arctic Monkeys perform at a local venue. It was a really fantastic concert; Arctic Monkeys have become a pretty big deal, but they keep coming to a pretty small venue that holds 1500 total (to be fair, this is a pretty well-regarded venue for rock acts). But one thing I’ve noticed whenever I go to concerts for rock acts is that there’s generally not a lot of specific fan behavior; people cheer and clap, to be sure (I may have yelled REALLY loudly when they started playing my favorite song by them, ‘Flourescent Adolescent’), but it’s a really big contrast to go to a rock concert in the US (by a British artist, but still) and then watching idol acts.

It’s just interesting, how the atmosphere of concerts changes. I’ve gone to one idol live (an international one, as well, since I’ve never been to Japan), but I’ve been to really small club venues and I’ve also seen concerts at huge arenas. All of these have their own merits and demerits; seeing Freelance Whales at 7th Street Entry was really fun and intimate, but seeing Katy Perry at a huge arena was a major spectacle. However, the one thing I’ve always noticed from idol lives that I’ve never quite gotten is that sense of crowd unity that only comes with things like fan chants and glowsticks.

I’ve seen people criticize idol fan crowds because of this type of conformity of sorts; that you can’t be an individual with that. This might be true, in a way. Personally, I think the worst thing (and in a way the best thing) about fan chants is how they treat the other; unless you know what to shout when, you’re going to feel like an outsider at an idol concert. If you don’t know the mix to shout during the overture, you might have a worse experience. The reason I say this might be one of the best things is just because (I imagine) it would make you feel like part of a community.

The reason I think I’d prefer going to an idol concert is that sense of community. Going to see Arctic Monkeys last night was really fun, and I enjoyed myself a lot, but I didn’t feel that connection to the rest of the crowd. I was happy to be at a place where others liked the same music I liked, and it was fun to get pumped up when they started with “Do I Wanna Know?” from their latest album.

However, it’s easy to get drowned out when shouting at a concert like this, and I know that personally I look forward to going to more idol concerts and shouting along, as conformist as it may be.

3 thoughts on “Idol Thoughts: Fan Behavior

  1. I have only ever been to two lives; a 30 seconds to Mars concert, and a small Pub live by an amazing Welsh band called 4th Street Traffic. Both were terrific lives, however I never found that there was much communication between fans during either of these lives as, in general, we Brits stick to whoever we’re going to these performances with – we don’t really mingle unless we’re going out to do that sort of thing specifically.

    From what I see on videos or from concert clips is that Idol Fans actually come together, as you said – in their chants and how they react to the songs or who is performing. However here, if you chant, it’s usually between you and your friends rather than everyone – the only time we come together is to scream lyrics when the performer stops singing for a second to let the crowd sing along. Really, we don’t join as a whole community of fans, we’re just individual fans in one huge space, watching the same performer.

    I want to go to an idol live because I want to just be around a community of people and feel like I belong, rather than standing there as an individual who is seeing the same person as everyone else, but doing their own kind of thing.

    Interesting article, it definitely made me think about the only two lives I have ever been to, and how disconnected the fans are from each other here!!!

  2. I’ve been to about 60 or 70 concerts in the last 15 years or so, ranging from extreme death metal/black metal to electronic music as well as plenty of idol concerts and even a few random country and bluegrass shows. I’ve been all over the spectrum, and while some concerts generally do have a kind of “community” aspect to them, I never really get too involved in that kind of thing. Here’s an attempt at explaining why.

    I guess just as a personal thing, I don’t like associating myself with a crowd or group of people too closely, and not just for some silly fear of “conforming” but I’d just rather be someone taken as an individual. In any group of people I find that I do have something in common with or do find something I can relate to them on, there’s usually at least an equal amount of things about those people that I am against and don’t agree with and don’t want to be associated with. And that’s a part of life, is celebrating being different from others and still being able to get along with them, but there’s something about being part of a “crowd mentality” and blindly banding together with other people that makes me uncomfortable. Again, while I do find things that I can get along with people about, becoming part of “the crowd” just for the sake of community rubs me the wrong way, so I usually just do whatever I feel like doing, regardless of what everyone else is doing.

    As I had said earlier, maybe a good example of this is like I said on twitter before, the type of show doesn’t necessarily dictate what kind of “community” or bonding you’ll have with other people. I’ve been to loud, crazy death metal shows and met some of the nicest, most considerate people I’ve ever run into, and run into some of the biggest and most inconsiderate assholes at idol shows. Contrary to everything usually associated with idol music, not everyone who likes idol music is a good person by default or someone I want to be associated with. Just as I’d like to be viewed as an individual, I view everyone else as an individual and don’t use my association with a certain crowd or group to define myself or fill in parts of my personality.

    I love and value meeting new people as much as anyone else, especially when I have things in common with them, but it doesn’t mean I instantly want to become their best friend and become part of a “community” with them.

    It also rubs me the wrong way how much they put forth this kind of “community” and togetherness aspect amongst idol fans (Japanese ones in particular) at the live shows and stuff, but then proceed to be hateful, disrespectful, and otherwise very unfriendly to other fans in the online space and at some other kinds of idol events that aren’t concerts. It makes the “community” that they represent at concerts feel a lot more hollow and dishonest as a whole, when, in a different environment, they act completely differently.

    Hopefully some of this makes sense, even if it seems like we just have different kinds of personalities and approaches to these kinds of situations and may disagree in the end.

  3. An Arctic Monkeys concert would definitely be a lot different to an idol concert. I’ve only been to idol concerts here in the UK, France and Korea so I’m comfortable not to go out to any other ones.

    Indeed I agree the atmosphere is different in both concerts but I’m used to hearing people do fanchants and feel a connection with their idol at a concert that I love it. This is how I felt when Perfume came to London last year.

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