Chamber music concert, small hall, 400 seats or so, half filled. One piano, one violin, one cello, three Czech musicians playing Suk and Rachmaninov and Dvorak – pretty out-there programming for the mainstream Chinese audience.
Just as the musicians finished tuning, a lady in the front row let out a recording of their tuning sounds on her phone. She was recording the whole thing, but the stupid inconveniencing musicans just had to add two minutes of noise before her music, and so she had to get rid of that bit but ended up pressing the wrong button.
As it turned out, no one cared about some random trio written by some random Czech whose last name is one letter short of Suck. Phones were switched on from minute one, a sea of glittering messenger apps, people showing the backs of their necks as they bent over their tiny keyboards, typing shit, or staring blankly and waiting for the other person to type shit.
At least no one clapped between the movements.
The second item was Rachmaninov’s Trio Elegiaque, which was like riding a stormy sea on a dingy while high on anti-depressants and tackling two sharks at once. It was loud, emotional, tuneful – all appealing traits. A little girl in the second row started crying, which was strange, since the program note said that children under 12 were not supposed to be sold tickets.
People clapped the shit out of that one.
The second half was Dvorak’s trio Opus. 90, which was fairly demanding for the casual listener – weird structure, mood swings at a blink, and a misleading lyricism that makes you go ‘oh that’s kinda ni – wait what?’ about 30 times.
The audience didnt know what to do with their phones. Like attention-deficit little kids, fully grown adults were on – off – on – off their fucking messengers at a whim, furiously typing at the ‘boring bits’, then lifting their heads at the ‘good’ bits.
In this kind of high-freqency usage situation, instead of pockets and bags, people like to shove their phones between their legs, under their butt, to pull it out at a moment’s notice.
Concert chairs have these swingy seats that have large gaps at the back, and six, six, fuckin six times people dropped their bricks on the hardwood floor while music was playing – once at the end of a quiet movement, as the violinist was lingering on a whispering note. The cellist pretended to cough to stop himself from laughing out loud.
Sorry Dvorak. The pinnacle of your life’s work wasn’t enough to entertain this bunch. They’d rather spam emojis. They’d rather record the live music then listen back on tinny speakers than actually paying attention while it was playing. They’d rather tell friends that they were at the concert than listening to one.
This was not a display of ignorance. People don’t just randomly drop a chunk of money to listen to classical pieces no one has heard of – they all knew what they were in for. It was wilful disrespect.
Fancy-dressed women with Gucci handbags and glittering heels, men in suits and flat-as-board slacks – they can’t display the same level of etiquette as a row of music students in baggy jumpers and old sneakers. And when they are warned they just wave it off – the attendants know they’ll raise a scene if the issue is forced, and that’ll irreocably ruin everything for everyone forever.
Imagine spending 10 hours baking a cake for a group of friends, only to see them take a collective shit on it.
Wait…this blog is just a rant and doesn’t say anything about how to actually be rude.
Not like anyone really needs instructing.