- 11 Sep 23
London-based artist Lucy May Walker causes an online controversy over the topic of etiquette rules at shows paid for by audience members. Fans and other artists have shared their thoughts.
This past week, folk singer-songwriter Lucy May Walker shared a photo via Twitter/X of a list of rules she wishes for her audience to follow during her upcoming UK tour. The post has been re-shared and quoted thousands of times, causing a debate over the idea of ‘gig etiquette.’
“After my many interviews with various news outlets about gig etiquette, I’ve decided to print these off for my upcoming solo tour,” she wrote.
After my many interviews with various news outlets about gig etiquette, I’ve decided to print these off for my upcoming solo tour. I’ve not seen this done before (& I’m sad it’s come to this) but I’m hoping it will encourage people to behave. Thoughts? pic.twitter.com/3CrEt4PNfV
— Lucy May Walker (@Lucymaywalker) September 7, 2023
“Just one person can ruin it for everybody else,” she wrote in the set of rules, which include not talking during the show, being in the moment (including keeping flash off while taking photos), not singing too loudly, and – ending on a more positive note – having an amazing time.
Walker then responded to her post, adding, “For context, I am a relatively small artist and for this tour in particular it is just me on stage, acoustic, playing super intimate rooms…”
The post fired up an online and media debate, which widely criticised Walker and the idea of setting rules for audience members at a gig they paid for. During Good Morning Britain, Happy Mondays singer Rowetta spoke about the post, voicing her opinion that, “To have a set of rules for a gig when they’re paying, I think that’s really awful, honestly. You should be a teacher or a prison officer.”
The TV headline ‘Do audiences need behaviour rules?’ coincides with the online debate surrounding Walker’s post, in which many fans and artists are calling the artist’s line of thinking ‘entitled.’
“This new wave of concert ‘etiquette’ is astonishing,” wrote one user, with another voicing, “I understand the frustration of people talking while you play, but this just comes off as rude, demanding, and inconsiderate.”
However, others have echoed Walker’s take. One user responded to her post, “It all seems like common sense but it never hurts to give grace and remind people what respectful etiquette is. I appreciate this!”
Walker herself responded today to Rowetta’s comments on GMB, as she also appeared alongside the fiery Happy Mondays singer on the show. “Why are you buying a ticket to see me, Lucy May Walker, and then talk through my set?” she said, bringing up the fact that audience members have talked over her more sensitive songs.
Singer Lucy May Walker is taking on audience misbehaviour by tweeting her ‘Gig Etiquette’, including no talking during the performance and a reminder that the audience have not paid to see you.
Do audiences need behaviour rules? pic.twitter.com/J9l7qixQaV
— Good Morning Britain (@GMB) September 11, 2023
To this point, one online user shared, “Despite Rowetta’s over exuberance, the point of laying down laws to audience members is excessive. It’s for the act to adapt to the venue, not the other way around.”
The current online debacle comes after a summer of more than a few audience incidents that have sparked similar online outrage. Last month, pop singer Bebe Rexha was struck by a cell phone during a show and had to receive stitches above her eye. Rapper Cardi B caused controversy when she retaliated at an audience member who threw a drink at her onstage by launching her microphone at the culprit.
In July, Adele spoke directly to her crowd during one of her Caesars’ Palace ‘Weekends with Adele’ residency shows about the matter of show etiquette. The singer said, “Have you noticed how people are, like, forgetting fucking show etiquette at the moment, throwing shit onstage? Have you seen that?”
More artists who have spoken up online about inappropriate audience behaviour include Steve Lacy, Kelsea Ballerini, Pink, Lil Nas X, and Kid Cudi, who walked off the stage during his Rolling Loud Miami set after warning audience members to stop throwing objects at him.
However the question remains: is it fair for artists to demand specific etiquette, like not singing too loudly, from their paying audience? Where is the line between intolerable and simply unpleasant crowd behaviour? The internet remains, as ever, divided on the matter.