Last Saturday Joni Mitchell looked out at an already dwindling audience, and in Tim Hardin's defense, said, "You are very rude people." We didn't like Tim Hardin, so we walked out on him. Shame. Shame. Stony Brook pulled a "No-no." But why did Stony Brook walk out on this performer? Very simply, Mr. Hardin was lousy. I walked out on him, and I would and will walk out on anyone who comes up on that stage whom I feel happens to be bad.
The whole idea of audience etiquette at this school has not been established. Our audience has a bad reputation, true, not because it is rude, but because it is not sure how to act, questioning whether it should follow personal desires or sit politely until the lights come up. Performers have been given poor treatment here, and we have been unruly, but more out of confusion than anything else.
Let's divide a concert into three sections: coming in, staying, and walking out.
COMING IN -- Miss Mitchell gets the point on this one. "You just don't go parading up and down the aisles when someone is singing. We have feelings, too, you know." Miss Mitchell is right. An assembly line of people trouncing through the aisles during a performer's number is not only disconcerting to the performer, but to the already seated audience as well. But is all the blame on the late-comer? He shouldn't have come late, but if that door is open, why should he stand idly by for ten minutes? The blame lies on the SAB. When a performer has gone on, the ticket-takers at the door should prohibit the entrance of people into the Gym until the present song is finished. It is the same idea which is now implemented in most Broadway theaters. One waits for a suitable break in the performance before he is allowed to enter. It is the job of those at the door to keep the concert from being ruined.
STAYING -- Physically, it is rough on those who go to concerts. Unless you have a SAB pass, the seats on the floor are poor. It is hard for one to see and there is little if no room to put your legs. However, the bleachers make half the student body feel like Quasimodo, for the first ten minutes after the concert is over. One must find a comfortable way to sit without slipping a disc, unless you sit higher up, and then the whole concert reverberates into an extended wail. And the higher up you go the hotter it gets. But these cannot be alleviated.
As far as acceptance goes, the audience treated Joni Mitchell very well. One does not consider three ovations and encores being "scorned." On the whole, Stony Brook is fairly unappreciative, however. Partially this is due to the preoccupation of the student as to who else is sitting where, his annoyance that he can't smoke, and the inability to accept a performer as he is. But it is also due to who we have at the concerts. Those who like soul were pacified for a while with the first two concerts (one for which we had to pay for), but then the SAB went back to its own merry way of getting whomever it's little heart desired. Why isn't there a poll at the beginning of every academic year, or at the end of the previous one, asking what groups the students would like to see? It is their money; it should be their concert.
WALKING OUT -- This is the one that has caused the most controversy. Should one grab his things together and storm out in the middle of a song, because one is disgusted with the performer? Maybe he should stick it out until the end of the song, and then leave when all the late-comers are coming in? But isn't it best manners to stay no matter how bad the performer is because he is "an artist"?
If you are in a museum and you see a painting that is awful, what do you do? You walk away. If someone stands with a pile of garbage in his hands and says he will throw it at you, what do you do? You clear out. So when a performer stands up there and is throwing bad art, or verbal garbage (or whatever you consider it) at you, leave. No, do not sit and take the stuff he is throwing at you. Walk out! Walk out during his song: you don't have to wait. But don't storm out, rampaging down the aisles screaming, "You stink." Your leaving is a silent (you should be quiet if only for the courtesy of those who are staying) protest against this man's performance.
In Mr. Hardin's case, he may have a good sound on records, but he is not a decent performer. To paraphrase him, "He pissed in our canteen." One does not stand on stage, not uttering one solitary word, and then call himself a performer. Mr. Hardin was not pretty. He was ugly. Off key, and off color. I do not have to hear that he is stoned. It is no great shakes on this campus, and all I am interested in is whether or not he is good. If he is not, goodbye.
Whether or not Stony Brook students take these suggestions seriously is their business. But there is no need to be slapped on the wrist for doing what one feels he should do to remedy the pain in his eardrums.
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