Is The Band Interfering With Your Conversation?

What's Your Beef?

Pat Hill

At first I thought it was because it’s been kind of a long winter around Bozeman this year, and people were getting cabin fever, or rather, trying to shed themselves of it.

Then I started to hear about it from friends and others as well.

But a trip out of town might have confirmed it.

I’ve had a sneaking suspicion lately that a lot of folks who attend live music events in Bozeman have absolutely no interest in the band. It seems that they may have no interest in respecting the folks that did come for the music, either, and the city’s music fans are paying the price.

In March, a friend and I attended a sold-out show in Bozeman where we were treated to oh-so-much more than the music. As the band was playing, it was hard to tell if the shoving outpaced the conversation among the crowd in attendance. It wasn’t hard to see the elbow repeatedly hitting my friend in the face courtesy of one of two tall individuals who thought it was appropriate to plant themselves between us without a word being spoken. Eventually I began to move around the venue seeking somewhere a bit more comfortable, but it seemed that even as we were leaving the show, we encountered people engaged in conversation and planted in the middle of aisles crowded with folks trying to exit the venue.

To say the least, I was underwhelmed with the experience. So were many of the other folks at the show. But to be fair, not everyone in the crowd was less than respectful--not even close. But you know what they say about bad this case, it seemed like the few fouled it up for many of the rest of the crowd. I tried to understand just what it was I witnessed, and at first, the closest thing I could come up with was, “Those people are just oblivious.” Then I thought, “Well, maybe they just want to be seen.” What I did not want to think is that they just didn’t care.

I was able to compare that experience with another show at an out-of-town venue a few weeks later. The venues were somewhat similar, and the latter show was also a pretty packed affair. One difference was that the attendees at the out-of-town gig were there to hear the band. Another difference seemed to be the respect people were showing each other, from offering up a seat to offering up a beer. I pondered the contrast between the two shows, and eventually fell back to my cabin fever theory. I don’t want to draw hasty conclusions about the city I live in and love, and it has been a long winter. I hope I’m right.

We in Bozeman are lucky in that we have a very vibrant music scene in our city. Besides being able to boast of outstanding local talent, our hard-working promoters bring in a wide array of national acts, with an equally wide array of venues to choose from. I know those folks take pride in bringing the music to Bozeman (and I’m proud of them, too). I think one way to show our appreciation to those folks is by showing more respect to each other, and by extension, to the bands that are bringing us together.

As summer approaches, more and more live music will be coming to our area, which I await with great anticipation. It’s going to be a fine season. Let’s get out there and enjoy the music as well as each other’s company, and show everyone yet another reason why we are proud to call the Bozeman community home. 

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Pat Hill

Pat Hill is a freelance writer in Bozeman. A native Montanan and former advisor to Montana State University’s Exponent newspaper, Pat has been writing about the history and politics of the Treasure State for nearly three decades.

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