Observations: A respectful plea for silence at the Brixton Academy

Simon O'Hagan
Friday 19 February 2010 01:00

There were three of them, and they were standing right in front of me, yelling into each other's ears, shrieking with laughter, and generally having a high old time. And why not? Well I'll tell you why not. While all this was going on, Vampire Weekend were up on stage, giving the first of two shows earlier this week at the Brixton Academy. And this trio of concert-goers were not alone in preferring each other's incessant high-volume chit-chat to listening to a terrific performance by the zestful New Yorkers. There were plenty of other people around us who happily chatted their way through the music, and during the quieter songs a hubbub of conversation could be heard all over the auditorium.

Now I know the Brixton Academy is not Wigmore Hall. You don't go to a Vampire Weekend gig in order to stand in silence all evening. But how come so many people these days spend money to hear live music and then just treat it as background to a night out with their friends? It's hugely irritating for those of us who do want to hear the band, and hugely disrespectful to the band itself.

I've noticed it particularly at the Brixton Academy. It's a boisterous venue and that's great. I saw the Specials there last year and the atmosphere was incredible. But the band coming on didn't stop the audience yakking. It was the same when the Pixies played.

Is it time that rock concerts started putting a polite request not to spoil people's enjoyment of the evening like they do in the cinema?

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