It seems the pandemic wiped our memory of how to behave at concerts. Over the past year or so, conversations around poor audience etiquette have reached fever pitch as artists call out annoying, odd or straight-up menacing behaviour at their gigs. One of the strangest to fall under this category is the phenomenon of fans throwing objects onstage and injuring the musician performing. Here's a list of some of the things that have been lobbed onstage in the last year alone: a wheel of cheese, water bottles, cold chicken nuggets, countless iPhones, Skittles and most alarmingly, a fan's dead mother's ashes. The plot? Absolutely lost. People's shame? Unable to be found.
Bebe Rexha, Harry Styles, Pink, Kid Cudi, Azealia Banks, Steve Lacy and Drake are just a handful of artists who have been on the receiving end of all this inexplicable object throwing, with Rexha needing stitches after being struck by a phone at her concert in New York City last month and footage surfacing of Harry Styles wincing in pain due to an unidentified object hitting him in the eye during a performance in Vienna on July 8.
The slate of injuries has even caught the attention of Adele, who spoke out against poor concert etiquette during one of her latest Weekends with Adele concerts in Las Vegas. "Have you noticed how people are like, forgetting fucking show etiquette at the moment? People just throwing shit on stage, have you seen them?” she said. “I fucking dare you. Dare you to throw something at me and I’ll fucking kill you," Adele warned.
Azealia Banks famously vowed never to perform in Australia again after cancelling her tour in December 2022, citing previous gigs in Melbourne and Sydney in 2013 when she narrowly avoided being hit by beer cans and bottles (as well as the country's reputation as a "culturally stale white nation" – read us for filth, baby!)
Granted, crowds throwing items onstage isn't exactly new. David Bowie was once hit in the eye with a lollipop while playing in Oslo and Akon received a fine and 65 hours of community service for throwing a teenager off stage after the same 15-year-old tossed a can at him while performing. However, these examples aside, what was once reserved as a gesture of appreciation and harmless interaction has morphed into something intended to disturb and in worst cases, harm.
Is it all in the name of virality? Are individuals just trying to manufacture moments for TikTok? Or have people genuinely forgotten how to hold themselves while listening to live music? Everyone has their theories. Lockdown and social-distancing means younger audiences have missed out on acclimatising to live music spaces. Hell, there was a time when those of us that did experience that education struggled to recall what it was like for musicians to appear so unguarded and vulnerable in a room of hundreds or thousands. Why would we risk all that again for the sport of shock and impulse?