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Why are American crowds better than Canadian?


TimmyB
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Last night I saw Eric Clapton for the second time this week. The only reason I have not seen Clapton (7x's) as much as Neil Young (32x's) or Bob Dylan (20x's) is that Clapton doesn't mix it up much through out the tour. The set was the exact same from the Wednesday and Friday night shows. I regret not going to Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival in Dallas, Texas, a week before bonnaroo this year. That way I could have saw Clapton perform with Jeff Beck, B.B. King, Carlos Santana, J.J. Cale, Jimmie Vaughan and maybe a few others too that I don't recall as I wasn't there. I regret it because Clapton mainly just mixes it up from tour to tour if he has guests on stage.

The only difference between the two shows was that one was in Canada and the other was in the United States of America. Though I'm sure there were some Americans at the Air Canada Centre and there were some Canadians (like me and my friends) at the HSBC Arena. The majority of the crowds in each respective arena were from the country the arena was in.

I bring up this difference in crowd, because the Americans on Friday were way more receptive and were louder and gave way more standing ovations, than the Canadians on the Wednesday. The Yankees were louder than the Canuks even though the show at the ACC was sold out, while the HSBC shows upper bowl was half empty. Meaning that 11,000 Americans are louder than 15,000 Canadians!

Due to the increased amount of appreciation from the crowd in Buffalo, though the set was the same (if you want to know the set read my review of the ACC gig), Clapton and his band played five minutes longer than in Toronto. During those five minutes of increased playing, Clapton and his gang on stage played more inspired and longer solos. I especially remember these instances during "I Shot The Sheriff" where the whole floor and and a good portion of the crowd rose to their feet during his guitar solo. That never happen in TO, and it also occurred during solos in "Got To Get Better In A Little While" and "Badge." Both Crowds sat the majority of the night until "Layla." But the cheers of the crowd in Upstate New York through out the night made a noticeable difference.

This is no isolated event in my concert going experiences. I have seen Neil Young, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Page and Plant, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, R.E.M., Pearl Jam, The Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Beck, Phish, The Dave Matthews Pand, The Allman Brothers Band, Crosby, Stills & Nash and the list goes on, in both Canada and in the States. In evey case the crowds were better in the USA. Why?

I remember clearly watching certain artists on the list above, pleading with their audiences in Canada to get more excited during their show.

Specifically each time I have seen Beck in Toronto, he seemed disheartened by the lack of enthusiasm that the Toronto crowds had. He once said in 2000 "We're up here on stage breaking our backs for you, why aren't you dancing." At another gig in 2002 Beck said to the crowd "I won't dance, if you won't."

Once seeing Robert Plant at Massey Hall in 2001 "You know you can get out of your chairs if you want." And the whole night while he was doing amazing cover tunes by and Led Zeppelin classics like "In The Light" he begged the crowd to get into it.

I've seen Tom Petty in both Canada and the States. In Canada the crowd was on their asses almost the whole show and hardly into it. Everytime I see him in the US the crowd is on their feet screaming and singing to nearly everyone of Petty's rock anthems.

Sometimes I think that it's just shows in Ontario as I remember concerts in Montreal, Quebec having way more amazing crowds. Show like Clapton, Page And Plant, Lenny Kravitz and the Black Crowes where I have seen them in both Toronto and Montreal, the crowds were so much better in Montreal.

During the 1995 Page and Plant tour I couldn't even hear the first two minutes of the opening song in Montreal because the crowd was so loud.

In 1996 during a Lenny Kravitz show the crowd was like an orgy of dancing. Girls everywhere losing their minds and Kravitz even had a good portion of the front rows come up on stage to dance with him. The two times I've seen Kravitz in Toronto it wasn't even close to the same.

It saddens me that my favorite city Toronto has such reserved crowds. The one positive thing is that they are polite and there is less likelihood of a fight or a riot. But how often do we really have to worry about a riot? Not too often.

The upcoming Bruce Hornsby show in Toronto at the Glenn Gould Studio on Monday July 26 will be a perfect gig for Toronto. We'll be respectful and receptive during a gig where the performer will be playing solo on a piano. I've never seen Hornsby solo before but who knows we might even still get to go on stage and dance while he plays, which often happens when he has a band.

Also Hornsby since joining the Grateful Dead in the early nineties now has a hippie element that attends his shows. And hippies are great at gigs (for the most part), they are more receptive and enthusiastic than most people.

Unfortunately the next night after seeing Hornsby, I'll be heading over to the Air Canada Centre to see Prince. The Artist one of the greatest Rhythm and Blues and Rock And Roll artist ever to live will definitely be disappointed by the Toronto crowd when the a good portion of them will be sitting instead of dancing.

I'll enjoy both shows but will probably only enjoy one of the two crowds. And all I want to know is, why?

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its the demographic your looking at.

you cannot compare Toronto and Buffalo (or most of western new york) equally.

Toronto has a lot of business folk. Its not just in concerts. Go to a Leaf game, then a sabres game, and tell me which one has more fans leaping from their seats, wearing their team colours, not suits on cell phones.

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I'm not just talking about Buffalo and Toronto. I'm seen the same artist in Toronto as I've seen in Buffalo, Detroit, Chicago, New York City, Boston, Albany, Atlanta, San Francisco, Washington D.C., Pittsburgh, Miami, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Nashville, Norfolk, Philadelphia and some more American cities.

I think if Toronto is the New York City of Canada then why are the New York, New York crowds better? Same with Chicago?

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Yeah, it's not Canada... it's Toronto! It's a yuppie town where people go to shows to say "so I saw Clapton last night" at the water cooler the next day! Toronto has THE shittiest audiances in North America and I think most touring acts would agree. Toronto apparently "loves" the Rolling Stones yet two years ago at the ACC you couldn't have got people to stand up with a cattle prod. I don't think it has anything to do with Canada though.. it's just Toronto.

Glad you had a good time in Buffalo though

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Canadians are apathetic. it our greatest fault. we don't/won't/can't get worked up over much besides 2 canadian teams facing off for the stanley cup. I'm speaking in general here, but given ANY circumstance americans will be more boisterous, loud, energetic and engaged in the experience than canadians. I have a lot of thought on topics like this, and apathy is the only answer to why this happens that I've come across. Then I remember the other Canadian flaw of constantly comparing ourselves to Americans and thinking we're not as good when we're different. Maybe Canadians are a more cultured crowd who like to sit back and take every note and light flicker in at the show or event, and going wild and crazy would detract from that "full" experience they're looking for. who knows?? maybe it's the "i need to be polite and don't want to bother anyone else with my loud woo-ing and i don't want to obstruct anyone's view with my dancing, and i don't want to do anything bad ever so i should sit here placidly and enjoy the experience." type of canadian in us all

seeing newriders thing...yeah it's a toronto thing too. the crowd for the show, size and hype wise for theNEWDEAL show in toronto last week, after their 6 month hiadus was nothing compared to what it would have been if in the states according to some hardcores from boston and jersey i spoke with at the aftershow....and tND is from toronto....

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I don't feel it's just Toronto, though most of the shows I've seen have been there.

I lived three years in Ottawa when I was attending university and Ottawa crowds were the same as Toronto. If not worse.

Also growing up in Burlington and now living in Hamilton, I've seen a lot of shows in the Hammer. And Hamilton crowds suck too.

The worse crowd I think I have ever seen in my life was a Blue Rodeo show at Hamilton Place in 2001. Actually I've seen many Blue Rodeo shows in Toronto that were better than the ones I've seen in Hamilton.

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New Rider, I did have a great time at both shows,thanks for the words.

Alexis, I have thought of many of those points and I agree those could very well be some of the reasons that we are like that.

But the question remains when Beck and Robert Plant and many others for that matter are begging the crowd to get more into it? Why don't we?

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Maybe.......you go to U.S.A. gigs on the weekends and Canadian ones on Wednesdays and Mondays....Check the dates on those stubs and see if that has anything to do with it....or go with the "we are laid back and chill thing"(it's not that bad of a way to be)

Nice list of artists you've seen! Neil Young is my most seen concert....I love seeing Neil!

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It pains me to admit it but Ottawa audiences can be pretty lame. At the Reckless Kelly show at Bluesfest last night most of the audience was in lawn chairs or standing about twenty feet from the stage even though there was a ton of space up front begging to be a dance floor. The band even asked the crowd, twice, to move up front but to no avail.

People tend to sit in their seats a lot here too.

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Gotta go with you there, Ollie, Ottawa crowds really piss me off ... I tend to end up meeting a lot of musicians just because I am the only one up front giving it up for the performance. Ottawa is the sit on your hands capital of the universe. I don't know about Toronto, but Montreal crowds seem a lot more into it.

RnB

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Hey MamaRed, Thanks for that suggestion of looking at when I'm going to shows. I never thought of that before and it is true that the gigs I see in America is more likely to be exclusively on weekends.

Though I've been averaging over fifty concerts a year, with over forty of them being ticketmaster events mostly in Toronto. Therefore I also see many weekend shows in Toronto, Hamilton and when I lived in our nations capital Ottawa.

Neil Young is the best! Dylan would stand alone as my favorite artist if he still performed like he did circa 1963 to the mid 1980s. Neil is tied with Dylan in my eyes because seeing him in the 1990s and in 2000s he can and still sounds the same as Neil in the sixties and seventies.

What Neil Young shows have you seen?

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Then I remember the other Canadian flaw of constantly comparing ourselves to Americans and thinking we're not as good

That's funny, I'd say most Canadians know they are better than Americans (at least the one's I know) ;)

Actually what I should say is that most Canadians I know, know they are not inferior to Americans.

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For sure American crowds are generally more rambunctious, but they have 10 times the amount of people to draw upon than Canada does. Also, I think Americans behave differently at concerts because the music and bands that they have grown accustomed to hearing are U.S.born. Listening to jazz, blues, rock, hip-hop etc... is imbedded into the fabric of U.S. culture and the collective American melting-pot psyche.

Although I generally agree with the criticisms, not all crowds suck in Canada, and in Toronto in particular. Even though jamband fans who travel the U.S. are accustomed to standing and dancing for an entire show, it just won't happen here en mass in Canada ( Dave Matthews and Phish crowds excluded ). That doesn't mean that our crowds suck. I've been part of big Toronto concerts where crowds sat for parts or most of the show, however they were generally loud and responsive - see The Who, The Stones ( 1989 ), Pete Townshend, B.B. King with Jeff Beck, both Down From The Mountain shows and Radiohead in Barrie ( to name a few ). Even smaller venues have had great turn-outs and even better audience responses. One of the best crowds that I have ever had the privilege of being a part of was for the great rock band The Soundtrack Of Our Lives at the Opera House last year: in my opinion, the best concert of 2003. The audience danced, sang, shouted and grooved for the entire 2-plus hours and demanded two encores. Ben Harper crowds no matter what venue he plays in in Canada, draw well and are noisy and responsive.

In this country, I see concert crowds as being a bit of a microcosm of what it is to be Canadian. We are: curious, knowledgeable, loyal, respectful ( unless you are opening for The Who in Toronto ), demanding, generous, self-loathing, expectant, peaceful ( to a fault ), insecure, reserved, polite, unpredictable and when inspired to be so, extremely boisterous. I love American audiences, but we Canadians celebrate concerts in our own unique ways, even though it can be occasionally infuriating and frustrating. I can't see anything changing for the better in the future, but it's not all as bad as has been reported either.

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I agree that american crowds get into it more- i've always suspected that some canadian fans don't realise that bands respond to noise and 'into it-ness'

it's almost as if we see a kind of barrier between the band and the crowd; although that said, quite often if you know a lot of people at the show, then there tends to be a lot of chatting going on- this can affect the overall mood.

But nothing pisses me off more than the *VIP* areas at ottawa blues and jazz fest- it's as if no-one, and i mean No-one in the VIP areas listen to the music. i've told off idiots in the VIP areas who have yelled at us to sit down (more than once)

arrrrgghhhhhh

but yeah, I also agree with the water cooler suggestion

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I think another bad trend I see with Canadian audiences is their tendancy to expect deserve an encore and thus won't cheer for one. It happens all the time at shows. It happened recently when I saw the reunion concert for the surviving members of seminal hard-rock band The MC5. The audience expected an encore after a spirited and heavy 2-hour concert, so they just stood there and stared at the stage. I was really pissed. Fortunately they came out for a great encore, even though the Phoenix crowd didn't earn one.

Most bands that play Toronto don't wait too long, but one artist that did punished me with no encore: Derek Trucks at the Comfort Zone 3 years ago. Derek played a spirited 2 hour concert and left the stage. The lights dimmed and some of the crowd cheered, but most were not as loud as I was - and I don't have a loud voice. Anyway, Trucks didn't come out for a curtain-call. I don't blame him.

It seems Canadian crowds expect encores instead of trying to earn them.

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I agree that american crowds get into it more- i've always suspected that some canadian fans don't realise that bands respond to noise and 'into it-ness'

it's almost as if we see a kind of barrier between the band and the crowd; although that said, quite often if you know a lot of people at the show, then there tends to be a lot of chatting going on- this can affect the overall mood.

Yes Davey Boy,

That's exactly what I was talking about! If the crowd cheered more, when they should, and were more into the gig they would get more out of the artist on stage nearly every single time!

Too often I've seen a band on stage looking at each other wondering what they were doing wrong. And I've seen way more than just Beck and Robert Plant openly ask the crowd to be more involved.

A concert experience whether it be a laid back blues gig or a in your face punk band should be interactive. At a blues show, if their are seats you for the most part should be sitting down, but you should still cheer for solos and say things like "That's right" at perfect moments.

That happened to me once at a Van Morrison show at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. At an oportune moment I screamed at Van "That's right!" and he replied immediately back into the mic, "That's right!" I was alone at the gig but people I didn't even know said wow he said that because you did. I was happy he did and that's what a blues or soul gig should be like. Even during a sit down show.

If your at a punk gig people mosh or do whatever they do to get the band on stage to do more.

Both gigs are different but both crowds can still interact with the artist on stage.

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I can't see anything changing for the better in the future, but it's not all as bad as has been reported either.

Hey Jaimoe, I don't see it changing either. But I disagree, it is as bad as I reported.

When Beck is up on stage giving an amazing show and thinks we aren't into it, I tend to agree with him we're not as into it as he's used to.

If we were more receptive so would the artist on stage and we would get a better show.

Now a lot of the bands you've mentioned, like The Who and The Rolling Stones and I've seen in both America and in Canada. And the crowds in America were better.

One specific example I have is when I saw the Who play at Neil Young's Bridge School Benefit in 1999. Each performer at the Bridge have to perform acoustic. Even during the acoustic performance of the Who after a long festival day, with the crowd being very tired, they were more receptive than any of the Who concerts I've seen in Toronto.

I'm not saying that the Who shows in Toronto were worse than the show in Mountain View, California. What I'm saying is the Toronto show could have been even better if the crowd was even more receptive.

I do know that Pete Townshend has spoken kindly about Canadian audiences comparing us to British and American audiences. Townshend said that we were like a hybrid of the two countries. We're respectful like the english but still party like America, right in the middle of the two nations.

I just remember too many times where the band looked at a Canadian crowd and wondered what was wrong with us?

Like your later post about encores, we don't cheer enough for the artist on stage. And I don't feel it's just for the encore it's the whole show.

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That's funny, I'd say most Canadians know they are better than Americans (at least the one's I know) ;)

Actually what I should say is that most Canadians I know, know they are not inferior to Americans.

I not saying that Canadian's as human beings are inferior to Americans I'm saying that Canadian crowds at concerts are inferior. Americans know how to get the most out of the artists that are on stage.

And I don't judge people as a nation, that's prejudice. I judge people on an individual by individual basis.

As a Canadian I feel that Canada is a better country to live than in America, mainly because of our socialistic values. But that doesn't mean I think that as a Canadian I'm better than American. Talking about arrogant?

Were talking about concerts here in each nation, not whether or not Americans or Canadians are better. All people no matter what country they are from are equal as human beings.

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I agree with you Timmy on all accounts.

I don't have deep enough points of references when comparing American and Canadian audiences like you ably do. I guess I am comparing Canadian crowd responses from concert to concert, band to band, and musical genre to musical genre.

That being said, you'd be hard-pressed to get better crowds than the ones that I was a part of when attending the Mighty Mighty Boss Tones show at the Guvernment a few years back and when I saw the punk/mod band ( and one of my favourite newer bands I might add ) The International Noise Conspiracy at The Reverb in 2001.

I've been told Edgefest has good crowds, although outside of Tool, that annual festival books musically abhorrent bands and draws equally abhorrent fans.

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For sure American crowds are generally more rambunctious, but they have 10 times the amount of people to draw upon than Canada does.

It doesn't matter if America has 10 times the amount of people to draw upon than Canada. If a show seats 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, etc. in either America or Canada that's all that fit in the venue. An Theatre or Arena gig is the same size in America or Canada. It's not like each gig in the United States is 10 times larger than each Canadian gig.

Also my post started because there were four or five thousand more people at Toronto than Buffalo for Eric Clapton this week. But the Buffalo show was still louder and cheered harder than Toronto.

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