Ten Kinds of People You Encounter at a Concert in DC

Sky Ferreira 930 Club

Sky Ferreira at the 9:30 Club, November 18

By Gretchen Kast

While some people like to spend their money on dining out or traveling elsewhere, I’m irrationally stingy, preferring to spend a spare $15 here and there and see some great, and sometimes not so great, live music. DC is a perfect city for this sort of flippant interest in concert-going, because we have a handful of smaller venues that attract a ton of really fun musicians. Between the 9:30 Club, the Black Cat, U Street Music Hall, Rock & Roll Hotel, DC9–there’s always someone of interest playing.

Over the years, I’ve begun to notice that, perhaps because of the more intimate nature of the DC music scene, you tend to encounter a similar cast of characters at every show. Take a look around the next time you’re at a concert, especially if you’re at one of the smaller venue stalwarts like 9:30 or Black Cat–I’m sure you’ll recognize at least a few of these people:

1. A bro with baseball hat

The bro with the baseball hat drinks the beers on draft and surprises you by knowing all the words, which he sings loudly into your ear. He doesn’t dance, save for an errant hand thrust into the air from time to time. He’s usually very concerned about those around him getting in his personal space.

2. A 12-year-old

Because I’m an adult and therefore no longer barred from any concert for any other reason than my own bank account, I never check to see if there are age restrictions on the shows I attend. And therefore when I see a 12-year-old lingering about, seemingly unchaperoned, usually wearing sneakers, it’s generally disarming. This is mostly because there are only a handful of occasions in which one finds oneself drinking around pre-pubescents and they tend to be family holidays. Also, how did you get here? Where are your parents? Why are they cooler than mine?

3. A pack of high schoolers

Again, depending on the age-limitations, this may actually be “a pack of college kids”. But the difference is negligible. The girls wear flowery skirts and crop tops and throw their hands in the air. The boys choose between “awkward head nod” or “goofy arm flail” dancing. There is usually one couple that bridges the gap between the sexes by standing back-to-front, ready to dance if the beat picks up enough.

4. A couple in their early 30s on a second OKCupid date

Ah, new love. New, awkward Internet love. He tends to be older, she tends to have long curly hair. They alternate buying drinks. She dances unabashedly as he places one hand on her shoulder and bobs his head.

5. Those drunk girls

Depending on the show, there’s usually just one group. College kids mostly, or recent grads. Everyone else tends to side-eye them as they dance wildly to whatever music is playing. But they’re also having more fun than anyone else at the show, so check your judgment fellow concert-goers, get another drink and enjoy yourselves.

6. Anywhere between one and three older men

These guys are truly inspirational. They are usually wearing something quirky like a bucket hat or an Adidas track suit. They soak in the music and sometimes strike up a conversation with the people who work at the venue. Said one to three older men are never together, I should note, but they’re usually spotted near the back or, if you’re at 930, up in the rafters, away from the crowds.

7. A girl in a leotard

This girl always has her hair in a top-knot and dances with the grace of a former ballerina. You look over at her and think, “you know, maybe I could pull off a leotard.” But the truth of the matter is you probably can’t. Also this girl may just be a mythical creature/hologram that American Apparel created to sell you said leotards. Don’t be fooled.

8. The photographer for a music blog

You can always pick out the music blogger because they stand near the front of the stage with a nice camera slung around their neck. They interact minimally with those around them and sometimes sip a beer between the bands.

9. The amateur videographer

This is the person that plants themself front and center and then proceeds to watch the entire show through their iPhone screen. I’d mock, but how else are we supposed to watch concert clips on YouTube. You do you, amateur videographer, but could you maybe get out of my way?

10. A man in suit

Just one. No more. No less. There is a strict one-suit quotient at DC shows and it is always filled.

Disclaimer, I have, at one time or another, been a combination of #3, 5, 8, and 9. No shame, no judgment.