Ginger Sherry is familiar with mosh pits. As an avid concertgoer, she knows that sometimes party fouls — like spilling beer on someone — will happen.
But at shows these days, Sherry, 25, has noticed what appears to be a vibe shift among fellow concertgoers. She’s seen things like excessive pushing outside of the pit, which can lead to crowd crushes, and people in crowds throwing things.
“I feel like there’s a lot of new people post-Covid, and I feel like, in general, people just don’t know concert etiquette anymore,” Sherry said.
Across social media, Sherry and others have increasingly been sharing anecdotes about their latest experiences at some of their favorite artists’ shows. Some have said they’ve witnessed rude interactions between fans or been shamed by other concertgoers for behaviors like screaming lyrics or dancing. Others said they feel that the concert environment can feel competitive, with fans forgoing social norms.
The recent influx in perceived bad behavior led Sherry to make a TikTok advising others on how the should behave when they’re in a concert setting and some best practices — like not bringing beer into the mosh pit.
“I wanted to make a video about, like, what is proper concert etiquette and like being in a mosh pit and how to be respectful,” Sherry said. “Crowd energy is very contagious … People can get out of hand and people also act differently when they’re with other people.”
The conversation around concert etiquette has ramped up as artists like Taylor Swift and Beyoncé embark on wildly popular tours. Some concertgoers who spoke with NBC News suggested the bad behavior stems from some fans’ desire to compete with others for the best video or the closest spot in the crowd. Better video means a better chance of going viral, and with social media in its own video-forward era, it can sometimes feel like every phone is out, which can create an obstructed view. Others said they believe the pandemic took a toll on people’s social skills and behavior.
“Going to pre-pandemic concerts, I just felt like everyone knew how to act, and concerts felt like this really safe space for people to kind of share, shared love of music with each other,” said TikToker Hannah Hawthorne, 27, who made a video about concert etiquette best practices. “When I went to a concert for the first time after the pandemic, it was such a stark difference … it was like everyone didn’t know how to act.”
Erin Dihn was on the receiving end of a rude interaction at a concert that she said left her “gutted.”
After waiting months to see Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour, she finally made it to a March show in Glendale, Arizona. Dihn, 27, a disabled U.S. Navy veteran, said she was experiencing respiratory issues, so she had to be wheelchaired into the venue by a member of the arena’s staff.
The crowd entering the venue was “packed like sardines,” which gave Dihn an opportunity to compliment a nearby concertgoer in a sequin dress.
“She just said, ‘Thanks. By the way, wheelchairs are for disabled people only’,” Dihn said. “I was very taken aback by that comment.”
She later made several videos to share her experiences at The Eras Tour, both the good and the bad moments. In one of her videos, she responded to another Eras Tour concertgoer. That person had recorded someone who was seated during the show. It appeared the person recording was making fun of the seated person.
“Honestly, it doesn’t even matter the reason she was sitting," Dihn said in her response. "You don’t need to film her and try to shame her on TikTok just because she’s sitting at a concert."
David Thomas, a professor of forensic studies at Florida Gulf Coast University, said concert venues — like social media — allow for more anonymity, which gives people the ability to act on their worst impulses. Add intoxicants into the mix with attendees vying for the best video to post on social media, and the crowd becomes a bomb waiting to detonate.
“A large crowd offers anonymity. So the things that you might be thinking that you wouldn’t normally do, that would be against normal social values, are exactly the opposite in the crowd,” said Thomas, a former police officer with an expertise in the psychology of crowds. “You kind of feel that you could disappear in that crowd, and it’s hard to point the finger at an individual.”
There’s a balance of enjoying yourself and being obnoxious.
— TikToker Hannah HawthornE
Fans said they also believe concert etiquette goes hand in hand with safety.
Sherry and others who spoke to NBC News pointed to events like the 2021 Astroworld festival — in which 10 people died — when emphasizing the importance of being conscientious of others in the crowd.
“Safety is so important because you don’t want people to die at a concert that we’re just going to for fun,” Sherry said.
Artists themselves have also been on the receiving end of bad behavior — crowd members have thrown items at artists like Harry Styles and Lady Gaga. In March 2022, rapper Tyler the Creator told fans during a concert to stop throwing items on stage.
To Hawthorne, proper concert etiquette is all about balance.
“I have heard conversations of people talking about, ‘Oh, everyone’s screaming the lyrics,’ but I mean, that’s everyone’s always screamed the lyrics at concerts,” she said. “There’s a balance of enjoying yourself and being obnoxious.”