Hey guys, just got back from our annual Weekend at Ernie’s party and your pal Ernie is dead tired. But not too tired to bring you a Random Fact!
Now, we here at S-T.net are always on our best behavior at shows, and we know our readers are, too. You mind your manners, you don’t get into fights, you don’t throw things, you don’t steal, and you certainly obey livehouse’s special rules… Right? Most of us know what constitutes “proper” or “polite” behavior, but what about when livehouses have their own standards for what is appropriate or not?
Managing a livehouse is more than just booking bands. Sometimes, fans forget that behavior they consider innocuous can actually be a major nuisance for venues and performers. Certain actions can even be a liability, like moshing or climbing on structures, so naturally, concert halls do what they can to put a stop to them. Usually, a brief sign or PA announcement is enough to remind the audience what they should or shouldn’t do. But once in a while, fans get some really strange ideas that require something of an official response.
1. Stop sitting on the floor. Seriously.
Let’s start with the image above: a sign posted by staff at Shinjuku RUIDO K4. It reads:
NO sitting. Absolutely none.
It’s a tremendous nuisance to other customers. [Sitting] can lead to trouble and injury, so we ask your cooperation in this matter
Most small and mid-sized venues in Japan are general admission, standing room only. Often, either before a show starts or during set changes, fans get bored or tired, but they do not want to lose their spots to the crowd, so they sit right where they are. Unfortunately, this can pose a hazard to staff, performers, and attendees alike. Some venues will have staff making repeated announcements over the PA to discourage fans from sitting on the floor, but often, the requests fall on deaf ears.
What’s interesting about the sign above is the phrasing. It’s rather direct, and more like the way you’d talk to a child than the diplomatic way you’d phrase an official announcement! So there’s your first rule: don’t sit on the floor. If you are at a concert and find that you need to sit, try to move to the walls or find a seated area (some venues have them in the back). Certainly, avoid sitting on steps, in narrow hallways, or any areas of high traffic.
2. Don’t send gifts directly to venues.
Here’s another one: The hall on the hill Takadanobaba AREA has been inundated with gifts. Yes, gifts. Disappointingly for the staff, the gifts are meant for artists and performers, not the venue itself. Apparently a substantial number of fans (or a small number with deep pockets?) have been sending these gifts and letters to the venue itself, to the extent they needed to add the following announcement to their homepage’s sidebar:
A Request to Our Customers
Please stop sending letters and presents for performers, as well as other such parcels, directly to our venue.
We apologize sincerely, but we will no longer accept these deliveries. We ask for your understanding.
In general (though there are exceptions), if you wish to give something to a specific artist, please wait until after that artist performs on their scheduled performance date, and hand it to them directly; otherwise, if such arrangements have been made, please leave your item in the artist’s designated present box [on the day of the performance].
To avoid disturbing our neighbors, loitering outside of our venue as artists enter or exit* is prohibited, so please stop handing over your presents in the vicinity of our venue.
With regards to flowers, if you contact us prior to the expected delivery date, we may accept the flowers from the vendor.
In such a situation, please refrain from sending excessively large items or items that need to be plugged in. We [also] cannot accept requests regarding where the items are to be displayed.
As well, please refrain from picking flowers from the bouquets we have received.
We humbly beg for your understanding and cooperation.
*入待ち “Irimachi” and 出待ち “demachi” are the names given to the acts of waiting for a band as they enter the venue and as they exit the venue, respectively. Almost all venues discourage or explicitly prohibit the former, as it is disruptive to performers as they are trying to set up and rehearse and any such interruptions can delay a show; many venues also discourage the latter out of concern for their surroundings. Irimachi and demachi are informal and can include as little as watching or waving at a band from afar, or as much as approaching performers to deliver gifts or strike conversation.
Translated by jazz
Apparently, fans were treating Takadanobaba AREA as a proxy for their favorite performers’ management. It’s one thing to send a flower arrangement for an anniversary live, or to hand-deliver a heartfelt letter or thoughtful gift on the day of a performance. It’s quite another to shower a venue in gifts with the expectation that they will pass it on to the appropriate recipient!
Again, this is an announcement written in a remarkably straightforward, though polite, manner, which is somewhat uncommon in Japan. AREA staff’s words are direct and strong: stop sending stuff! We imagine this must have been a real problem for the small, 450-capacity basement venue, if they had to make such a terse announcement. So rule number 2, fans: if you’ve got a gift to give, make sure it goes to the right person, and don’t burden a third party with your gesture.
3. Electricity theft is a crime. Don’t touch a venue’s appliances. And electricity theft is a crime.
This goes without saying, you’d think, no? If it’s not yours, don’t touch it – especially if it’s an electronic or electrical device. Apparently, attendees of lives at HOLIDAY NEXT NAGOYA missed that message, so the venue staff took to Twitter.
[Mar 13 13:12] A word of advice and warning to our customers
In spite of previous warnings, we have received a report from our supplier that there is evidence that our ice cream vending machine has been deliberately unplugged to steal our electricity. At the risk of being redundant, stealing electricity is a crime. As well, we’ve been experiencing [mechanical] failure as a result of [people] selfishly disconnecting our vending machine from the power source.
[Mar 13 13:11] According to our supplier, ice cream vending machines use over ten times the electricity of a regular refrigerator. Carelessly touching such a high-voltage machine’s power source can lead to terrible accidents.
[Mar 13 13:10] If this electricity theft continues despite our warnings, we will have no choice but to rethink whether we should have this ice cream vending machine installed. Additionally, even if for only a moment, energy theft is energy theft, so we are also looking into legal action [against the offenders]. Livehouses are places used by many people. Please limit your actions to the realm of common sense.
[Mar 13 13:14] It pains us to have to make such a statement when we are trying to manage our livehouse in such a way that everybody can have fun. Although there are so many people who enjoy our ice cream vending machine, it’s the actions of a few thoughtless persons that has led to this. We reiterate. Energy theft is a crime.
[Mar 13 13:17] The most recent incident was not even just a case of [somebody] unplugging the vending machine to charge [a personal device;] rather, [somebody] maliciously put some sort of cheap tap or extension cord between the vending machine’s power cord and the power outlet, and as such, the power was on the verge of shorting out. Speaking frankly, we were all appalled*. We hope that we never encounter something like this again.
via @HOLIDAY_NEXT on Mar 13, 2014, 13:10-13:17 JST
*呆れる – “akireru”; literally translates to shock or amazement, but it has a negative, almost accusatory connotation. In English, it would be similar to the way the word “amazed” and “impressive” are used in a derogatory manner in the following: “I am amazed by your stupidity” or “Your audacity is impressive.” It’s a loaded word, so this statement is much stronger than it may seem!
Please also note some of the announcement was posted out of order so it would read naturally despite Twitter’s most-recent-first layout.
Translated by jazz
Apparently, fans desperate for an outlet threw caution to the wind, or the vending machine, and decided to steal electricity in a rather dangerous way. It seems, from the wording of their announcement, that this is a repeat phenomenon rather than an isolated incident. You’ve probably heard the expression, “a few rotten apples spoil the bunch,” and it certainly applies here. If those selfish fans continue acting as they are, then nobody will get to enjoy ice cream at HOLIDAY NEXT anymore.
So rule 3: don’t steal electricity, and don’t mess with appliances that aren’t yours!
There you go, readers. Three simple rules for enjoying shows in Japan that maybe never crossed your mind. Maybe you’re thinking, “that should go without saying!” but, clearly, some people took advantage, and so it was said!
Have you got any weird rules you’ve encountered at livehouses in Japan? Did you ever find yourself accidentally violating a rule (hey, we all make mistakes!)? Let Ernie know in the comments below!