10 Concert Etiquette Rules That 'Freebird' Guy Isn't Following

Reserve your "Freebird" requests for actual Lynyrd Skynyrd concerts. Michael Putland/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Lynyrd Skynyrd was playing a live concert in 1976 when lead singer Ronnie Van Zant asked the audience what they wanted to hear. He was answered with a deafening roar of "Freebird!" The rendition of the song that followed became legendary. Years later in the early 1980s, indie rock fans developed the habit of shouting out the song title as an ironic sneer at classic rock. Later that decade, famed Chicago radio personality Kevin Matthews called on all KevHeads (his diehard followers) to yell "Freebird!" at a concert by Florence Henderson (of "Brady Bunch" fame) as a form of sabotage.

The practice has snowballed, and today it's hard to go to a concert without hearing some guy (it's usually a guy) shout the feared two-syllable "song request," whether ironically or otherwise. In fact, it's so ubiquitous that musicians have evolved various strategies for dealing with it. Some flip the bird ("Here's your free bird!"), some try to ignore it and still others actually fulfill the request, playing variously goofy or sincere renditions of the classic [source: Fry].

But should they have to? Should we just put up with "Freebird" guy? No, we shouldn't. Nor should we tolerate a host of other aggravations encountered at your common concert. Perhaps what's missing is a set of rules that people actually follow. To help fill the gap, here are 10 commandments for concertgoers.