Is a Lack of Crowd Interaction at a Show a Deal Breaker?

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Today’s Think Tank article is brought to you by the ursine with the divine mind (no, not the Finnish one). Our own Leif Bearikson watched some drama unfold on the twitter, and he just had to speak his piece about the absurdity.

Today’s Question: Is a lack of crowd interaction at a show a deal breaker?

Over the weekend as I was perusing my twitter and trying to keep up with the musings of my tweeps (am I doing this right?) I came across someone advocating against seeing Dragged Into Sunlight live because they ignore the crowd. Seeing as how we are only a few weeks removed from a set at Maryland Death Fest that has widely been heralded as THE show of the weekend, and a U.S. tour that I’m quite excited for, this position struck me as quite odd. I have yet to experience DiS in a live setting, so I was unaware that the band generally tends to play with their backs to the audience. No banter or calls for fist raising, just backs, drums and distortion. If anything, this actually made me even more curious about their live show and has all but ensured that I won’t be missing them.

I certainly don’t find a lack of crowd interaction to be a deal breaker in any way. Every band will go about their live show in their own way, whether it be the slew of black metal bands clad in black leather and face masks (preventing the musicians from being a distraction from the music itself) or just the frontman throwing out generalities like asking you to open up this fucking circle pit. The thing is, interactive or not, that is (obviously) completely within the band’s right. If they believe they play tighter or that being masked and ignoring the audience fits their band’s aesthetic then they can, should and probably will do it.

In the case of DiS, to feel ignored seems to be the point. They play an incredibly aggressive and abrasive brand of metal and they opt to let their music and atmosphere do the talking for them. To demand that they turn to their audience and acknowledge them for coming out of their way to the show would be to take away from that atmosphere and the music and turn that focus onto the audience itself. This, of course, isn’t the case for a band like Dillinger Escape Plan. DEP goes to the next level and actually makes the audience a part of their live show, either by allowing them on the stage with the band or by running out onto their heads. Bands like DEP are a relatively rare example of such an act, but one that absolutely needs to interact with the audience for a live show. They’re a band that thrives on it.

Now if DEP didn’t have the reputation for live shows that they do and I was going to see them for the first time, would I choose not to go or walk out if they weren’t interacting with the audience? Definitely not, but their live performances are clearly elevated by it, and it suits their aesthetic 100%. This type of showmanship just isn’t something that works for everyone, and I wouldn’t want it to work for everyone or every genre. I want every live show to be its own experience, whether it’s Mikael Akerfeldt or Frank Mullen cracking jokes, Mastodon blazing through their set with no breaks, or Dragged into Sunlight going for a full on aural assault.

Do you prefer a band interacting with you at a show? Has it ever been a deal breaker? Let me know in the comments!

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