Queen for a Day
July 6, 2017 5:20 PM   Subscribe

As a crowd of 65,000 people waited to see Green Day perform in London earlier this week, they did this (SLYT).
posted by flyingsquirrel (67 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
 
Massive group head-banging at 3:50.
posted by amanda at 5:29 PM on July 6, 2017 [2 favorites]


Ladies and gentleman, please join us in singing along with one of the greatest songs ever written, followed by, uh, Green Day.

Oooh, sick burn!

My distaste for Green Day aside, this is awesome. Does anyone know if this is something that is regularly played before Green Day shows, or was this just a special thing?
posted by jonathanhughes at 5:29 PM on July 6, 2017 [5 favorites]


Gah there's no reason for me be tearing up at this but goddammit I am, so there you go
posted by gorbichov at 5:35 PM on July 6, 2017 [15 favorites]


“Only Queen can rock an entire stadium without even being there.”
posted by cheshyre at 5:36 PM on July 6, 2017 [45 favorites]


Chills!! WAY TO GO HUMANITY!!!
posted by riverlife at 5:38 PM on July 6, 2017 [5 favorites]


Most people will probably miss what is most impressive about this, which is that it is an unbelievable demonstration of sound environment design.

Those "crosses" in the distance are both lighting and speaker arrays. The speed of sound is a big problem for crowd situations this size, as it takes sound almost a full second to travel from the stage to the back of the crowd. So how is it that this huge crowd seems to be singing in unison, when that shouldn't be sonically (if that isn't a word it needs to be) possible? Well the answer is that they did a bunch of sound design with those speaker arrays to make sure everyone in the crowd gets the concert sound with minimal interference and in milliseconds of visual speed-of-light time -- and this little event is using that design in reverse.

The first time I ever saw this achieved was at the Las Vegas Experience, a canopy with animated underlighting that traverses Fremont Street in Las Vegas for something like 1/4 mile. Every hour after dark the neon lights go dark and the canopy does an animated show. And when it first opened I was astonished that no matter where I went on Fremont Street, the sound and animation were in perfect sync and there was no interference from some other out of phase element.

Still the FSE was a one-dimensional linear walkway. This is a two dimensional field solid with people stretching at least a sound-second in every direction.

This video should have been nothing but an incomprehensible muffled roar. The fact that it's not isn't only a great teaser for the crowd, it's gonna be somebody's virtual business card for a long time.
posted by Bringer Tom at 5:42 PM on July 6, 2017 [164 favorites]


Thank you for that, Bringer Tom, because my first thought was "FAAAAAAAAKE!" since I couldn't figure out how they perfectly mic'ed 65,000 people. Delighted to hear (ha!) that I'm wrong!
posted by Frayed Knot at 5:47 PM on July 6, 2017 [1 favorite]


gorbichov, I had the same reaction. Something about crowds where everyone feels happy, or does something in unison—it always gives me chills and makes me tear up. It's as if my brain can't contain the big wonderfulness of it all, so it shorts out.
posted by flyingsquirrel at 5:49 PM on July 6, 2017 [8 favorites]


Well I claim no insider knowledge, but I have seen what the tech can do and that seems more Occam's Razor than faking this by mic'ing 65000 people. (Also earbudding them since they got the clapping and headbanging in sync.) It was quite the demo of the tech doing its magic.
posted by Bringer Tom at 5:50 PM on July 6, 2017 [1 favorite]


Would 65,000 people show up for Green Day? Surely there was someone else.
posted by Bee'sWing at 5:50 PM on July 6, 2017 [1 favorite]


I was part of a crowd of a few thousand that did this once; indeed, there were two songs, and I kicked off the second one after the first song came to an end another minute or two passed with no still sign of the headliner.

Of course, because we were Canadian, the songs in question were Barrett's Privateers and Northwest Passage, but I consider it equivalent, eh.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:54 PM on July 6, 2017 [12 favorites]


punk rock


... but Queen II is better ...
posted by philip-random at 6:02 PM on July 6, 2017 [1 favorite]


This American would pay cash money to be part of a crowd singing Barrett's Privateers
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 6:13 PM on July 6, 2017 [3 favorites]


Gah there's no reason for me be tearing up at this but goddammit I am, so there you go

The writer P. J. O'Rourke once said in one of his pieces that huge crowds singing in unison is just profoundly moving on a gut level. It almost doesn't matter what they're singing, he said; "with 10,000 people singing it, even the theme to The Jetsons would be thrilling."

and now you are imagining a huge crowd all singing "meeeeeet george jet-son" and you have a tiny taste of the inside of my own head you're welcome
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:39 PM on July 6, 2017 [35 favorites]


Barbara Ehrenreich's Dancing in the Streets: A History of Collective Joy is all about the use and control of music in crowds.
posted by clew at 6:55 PM on July 6, 2017 [8 favorites]


Not fake- I've seen crowds in England do this before. Basically, if you play "Bohemian Rhapsody" in any kind of stadium setting in the UK, this will happen. Maybe not with quite the degree of unison, but close.


Would 65,000 people show up for Green Day? Surely there was someone else.

All we hear is radio ga ga.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:56 PM on July 6, 2017 [5 favorites]


Choir Choir Choir needs to step up their game pronto.
posted by Beardman at 7:11 PM on July 6, 2017 [3 favorites]


I was once on a camping trip with a big bunch of software engineering interns. We were trying to sing songs around the campfire, but between the beer, general incompetence, lack of internet to look up lyrics, and not actually knowing any songs, we were unable to actually get through an entire song successfully. And, I mean that; we tried "Row Row Row Your Boat" just for the sake of getting to 100% on something, but it was too stupid to maintain our interest. This proceeded until someone suggested "Bohemian Rhapsody," which we, completely inexplicably, all knew by heart and rocked. I still have no explanation for this and wonder how that was possible, and I'm still open to the possibility that we were all just too drunk at that point to realize how much we butchered it, but yeah, there's something unique about that song.
posted by zachlipton at 7:15 PM on July 6, 2017 [6 favorites]


I know it says July 1, but I swear I have seen this linked on MetaFilter before, maybe in a comment. And on preview, perhaps it was a different stadium crowd doing it.
posted by yhbc at 7:33 PM on July 6, 2017 [1 favorite]


Looks like Green Day does it as a crowd warmer? There are a quite a few of these (all from Green Day shows) on Youtube.
posted by unknowncommand at 7:39 PM on July 6, 2017


E.g.
posted by unknowncommand at 7:40 PM on July 6, 2017


This video should have been nothing but an incomprehensible muffled roar. The fact that it's not isn't only a great teaser for the crowd, it's gonna be somebody's virtual business card for a long time.

Not to be too much of a bummer, but it's pretty much a standard set of delay towers, which has been normal for that size venue since digital delays became accurate enough in their ability to reproduce the audio for the purpose. They're not timed to line up with visuals on stage, they're timed to line up with the sound coming off the main speakers. This is so they can have more uniform coverage throughout the area and so that the people in the back can hear without having to blast the people in the front. If they did time the delay towers to the visuals on stage, it would be terribly disconcerting, because the people behind the towers would hear the sound twice, first from the towers and then a noticeable delay later when the sound waves from the main speakers reached them.

Think of it like dropping two stones into a bathtub, one at the head and one halfway back. If you dropped them at the same time (which would be the equivalent of timing to the stage visuals), the waves would be all messy, they wouldn't line up with each other. But if you could precision time dropping the halfway back one at exactly the right moment as the initial wave reaches it, you could line it up so that the wave gets bigger but doesn't get messy.

To be the inverse to capture the singing with less delay, they'd have to have microphones spaced out out in the audience, which I don't believe they've done.

What is in play is that the sound from the people in the back has the greatest drop-off in volume as it reaches the mic on stage, such that the people that are most in sync with the recorded playback are substantially louder than the ones in the back. Sound levels drop 6 dB every time you double the distance, so if you compare the volume of someone singing 100 feet from the mic to someone 800 feet from the mic (which is a bit under a second of traveling at the speed of sound), that's a 24 dB reduction.
posted by Candleman at 7:42 PM on July 6, 2017 [34 favorites]


Yep, unknowncommand - now I'm 99% certain that the Emirates stadium video in that link was the one I saw here before. I remember now it started off after the beginning of the song and was from a fan's POV.
posted by yhbc at 7:44 PM on July 6, 2017


I love this song. One of my first megaposts on Metafilter was about Bohemian Rhapsody. And I love, love, love this video. Thanks so much for posting it!
posted by zarq at 7:45 PM on July 6, 2017 [2 favorites]


(zachlipton, I was once on a camping trip looking for a song several people knew, and we finally found Don't Fence Me In.

But half of us knew the Roy Rogers version and half the Fitzgerald and Armstrong version, and it was cacaphonic.)
posted by clew at 7:53 PM on July 6, 2017 [1 favorite]


eh, pretty good - not quite as good as the time four friends & I stood in a circle high on acid and sang along with every word changed to 'meow', but still, I liked it
posted by mannequito at 8:00 PM on July 6, 2017 [15 favorites]


yhbc - this is probably the comment from a couple of years ago.
posted by unliteral at 8:40 PM on July 6, 2017 [1 favorite]


"Bohemian Rhapsody" was released as a single in 1975--and 42 years later it is sung in unison by 65,000 people in a stadium. (Supplemental headbanging added to the canon in 1992.) I can't imagine any single released in 2017 that would be sung in unison by 65,000 people in a stadium in 42 years. That's how iconic this song is.
posted by Quaversalis at 8:44 PM on July 6, 2017 [5 favorites]


I think it's symbolic. The stage is empty, there's 65,000 people all creating something beautiful together. I think that's where the chills and the tearing up are coming from.

Whatever it is that needs doing, we got this.
posted by aniola at 9:19 PM on July 6, 2017 [6 favorites]


Were they projecting the lyrics, or did everyone really just know them all that well?
posted by eggkeeper at 9:53 PM on July 6, 2017


This song really is the best.

A while back we were doing an impromptu dance party with my two little kids. It turned out that Older Creaure was really into dancing to old folksy music while Younger Creature was really only into super raw hip-hop and trap music and openly scoffed at any musical choices Older Creature tried to make. Meanwhile, I and Mrs. Creature attempted to add our own musical tastes to the dance mix (90s pop and Stoner Metal, respectively) only to find equal disdain among our youngins.

Needless to say, the dance party soon slowed to a halt as no one could agree on a song that everyone would be willing to dance to. And then it dawned on me.

Bohemian Rhapsody.

I hit play on the stereo. Turns out my two children had never heard the song; naturally they were skeptical at first, but I pressed on, doing my best to apply my most dramatic and impressive interpretive dance moves as the Greatest Rock Song of All Time began to unfold.

Slowly their skepticism changed to mild cringing at my excellent dancing, then to wonder, and finally, just in time for the guitar solo, full-on head banging. I cranked the volume a few more decibels as we proceeded to bring the house down.

When the song was finally over Younger Creature shouted with enthusiasm "that was AWESOME!"

Yes it was my child. Yes. It. Was.

Never underestimate the power of QUEEN to unite a people.
posted by Doleful Creature at 9:58 PM on July 6, 2017 [30 favorites]


Humans are great.
posted by biogeo at 11:21 PM on July 6, 2017


Would 65,000 people show up for Green Day? Surely there was someone else.

It was one of the BST (British Summer Time) gigs in Hyde Park, they are basically a series of one day mini festivals but Green Day were definitely the headline act for that day.

The main page seems to be 404ing at the moment but here's a write up of the day
posted by toamouse at 11:57 PM on July 6, 2017


One of my favourite songs ever. I wish I could have been in that crowd! I had such a big smile on my face, watching that--thank you for posting it.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:16 AM on July 7, 2017 [1 favorite]


That fucking drum tech couldn't have waited 90 seconds to let them finish the song uninterrupted?

And, eggkeeper? Everyone in Britain knows the lyrics to Bohemian Rhapsody - I sometimes think we fall out the womb already knowing them. I was able to sing along to every word of the video and I'd don't even like Queen.
posted by Paul Slade at 1:41 AM on July 7, 2017 [5 favorites]


The writer P. J. O'Rourke once said in one of his pieces that huge crowds singing in unison is just profoundly moving on a gut level. It almost doesn't matter what they're singing, he said; "with 10,000 people singing it, even the theme to The Jetsons would be thrilling."


I've actually been IN THAT EXACT CROWD.

It was a previous phase of my life, Amy Grant was touring for one of her secular albums, Unguarded I think, so 1985-86. The arena I was in would hold a good 15,000 people and it was sold out. The changeover between the opening act and Amy getting on stage was taking FOREVER, and someone had the brilliant idea to put on the first Television's Greatest Hits compilation album instead of normal generic pop music or whatever. At first, the music was just music, and then The Flintstones Theme hit and everyone started singing. I think they probably edited the track list a bit because I remember it being a total sing-a-long after that. The Jetsons Theme had a good amount of purchase with the crowd, but then they got into the sitcom themes. Holy shit, if you've never been in a crowd of 15K people all singing the Green Acres theme song, you've actually missed out on something in your life.

My most intense crowd sing-a-long moment was one that was led by the band themselves, but I'm covered in what might be terminal goosebumps just starting to write about it. It was the first phase of U2's 360 Tour in support of their No Line On The Horizon album, in Glendale AZ at the football stadium there. 90,000+ in attendance. Edge started playing the opening notes of I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For and Bono made his way toward the microphone stand, and right when he was supposed to start singing, he made a bowing motion with his torso while raising both arms up and forward in a sweep toward the audience, and suddenly I was part of a 90,000 person choir all singing at the top of their lungs. It was actually one of the more profound moments of my life, feeling united with a group of people basically twice the population of my hometown growing up, all singing about longing and searching. People around me were crying, there was a lot of hugging going on after the song between apparent strangers...

Being in a giant group of people singing is really truly amazing.

I'm so glad you posted this. It has made me feel more joy than I've felt probably all week. THANK YOU

Also, yes, everyone in the UK and the US and probably Canada and most of Europe and a sizable minority of the population across the rest of the world know the words to Bohemian Rhapsody. It's going to still be sung in 100 years.

[Ed. note: If you have never actually listened to A Night At The Opera all the way through, as an album, you should. Like seriously. It was the first album I bought in 5.1 surround format when it was remixed (by the original mixing team!), after having already purchased it twice on LP (seriously scratched the first copy I had due to being clumsy) and once on cassette, and then once again on CD).]
posted by hippybear at 3:03 AM on July 7, 2017 [14 favorites]


I am something of a fan of British naval war movies (I would say 'like The Cruel Sea', but there's none quite like that one), and these often have scenes where survivors from a sinking haul themselves up on rafts and await certain death with fortitude. Spirits are inevitably kept up with a sing-song - music hall, hymns, rounds - even as the first officer finally gives up and sinks below the icy waves.

Which, flippancy aside, was how it was.

It's long since struck me that if you found yourself in a similar situation today with your peers, nobody - or few enough - would know any songs like that, as communal experiences of singing have gone from universal to unusual. And as I tried to reshoot such a scene in my head, I realised that Bohemian Rhapsody would be the only song that everyone would know from start to finish. I now feel justified in that, per zachlipton.

It was a surreal scene.

("... nothing really matters... to meee... any way the wind blooooows......"
"Good choice, Number One. What's next, anyone? How about you, Hodgkins?"
"Errr... Closer, Nine Inch Nails?"
"Hm. Can you hum it for us?")
posted by Devonian at 3:07 AM on July 7, 2017 [6 favorites]


Mass group singing? Liverpool joins the party from 1964: Yeah, yeah, yeah...
posted by robself at 3:11 AM on July 7, 2017


Whenever Liverpool joins any party, it joins it from 1964.
posted by hippybear at 3:14 AM on July 7, 2017 [5 favorites]


If you have never actually listened to A Night At The Opera all the way through, as an album, you should. Like seriously.

Obligatory link to The Kleptones "A Night At The Hip-Hopera", which might only be a mashup but stands alone as one of my favourite albums ever.
posted by jontyjago at 3:21 AM on July 7, 2017 [4 favorites]


Whenever Liverpool joins any party, it joins it from 1964.

Actually I realize this is not true. Frankie Goes To Hollywood was a Liverpool band. So also possibly from 1984.
posted by hippybear at 3:42 AM on July 7, 2017


Whenever Liverpool joins any party, it joins it from 1964.

That, or 1963.

Merseyside band Gerry & The Pacemakers (1963) numero uno You'll Never Walk Alone.

Immediately adopted by fans of Liverpool FC. One recent example, Liverpool v Borussia Dortmund (2016)

Bonus.... from the Meddle album (1971), Pink Floyd's Fearless (with Liverpool fans giving their all from about the four minute mark).
posted by Mister Bijou at 3:59 AM on July 7, 2017


"Bohemian Rhapsody" was released as a single in 1975--and 42 years later it is sung in unison by 65,000 people in a stadium. I can't imagine any single released in 2017 that would be sung in unison by 65,000 people in a stadium in 42 years.

Time is a filter, and culture was more monolithic back then. I'd bet on Lorde's Royals, though.
posted by Leon at 5:24 AM on July 7, 2017 [5 favorites]


Devonian, it might interest you that during the Falklands War, the song the crew of the HMS Sheffield sang while their ship was sinking was Monty Python's "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life".
posted by fings at 7:18 AM on July 7, 2017 [8 favorites]


Did they do the whistling part, or were their lips too parched by the salt at that point?
posted by wenestvedt at 8:20 AM on July 7, 2017


30 dead on HMS Sheffield. No need to be flippant.
posted by bystander at 8:45 AM on July 7, 2017


bystander: I'm not sure how we should take that comment. It did happen.

(The thing about skates is, they've got a better sense of humour than squaddies).
posted by Leon at 9:13 AM on July 7, 2017


I'd bet on Lorde's Royals, though.

For some reason I can only manage to sing this with the Weird Al lyrics.
posted by soren_lorensen at 9:25 AM on July 7, 2017


jontyjago, IIRC the Kleptones don't use Bohemian Rhapsody or anything else from Night at the Opera for Night at the Hip-Hopera.

Must have been a deliberate choice.
posted by jclarkin at 9:45 AM on July 7, 2017


Bohemian Rhapsody is indeed one of the songs I can say I truly know by heart. Whenever I hear it, I feel compelled to sing it, the words springing almost unbidden to my lips.

The most recent large crowd singalong I was at wasn't actually at a concert--it was in the lineup (giant cattle herd situation, more like) for a screening in the grand theatre at the world's most famous film festival. The celebrities and VIPs go up the red carpet and the rest of us get held off in zigzag lines to the side, packed efficiently into a large rectangle. They always play music on speakers to soothe the riffraff, who at this point have been waiting for over an hour in line (if you have this sort of access you're not guaranteed a seat, even with a ticket). Anyway, everyone is chatting and laughing, with a bit of tension here and there as some jerks try to push their way ahead in the line and others hold their place and glare. Suddenly, Oasis' "Wonderwall" comes on over the speakers and suddenly the entire crowd--at least 50% of whom couldn't have been more than babies or young children at the time of its popularity--breaks into song, in unison. It seemed like all of us, or the majority of us, knew the words and were singing along. It was quite wonderful, even though I'm sure none of us would have claimed a great emotional attachment to that song. It was the fact of being in a huge crowd of people singing together.

After "Wonderwall," we all went back to just chatting, shuffling forward slowly, and craning to see who was on the red carpet. Why "Wonderwall"? It's a mystery to me. But the singalong had definitely improved the mood.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 10:28 AM on July 7, 2017 [1 favorite]


Also, surely that isn't marijuana smoke puffs I see over the crowd. Does that kind of thing happen at concerts in England? Maybe it's vape smoke?

Oh who am I kidding? That entire crowd was stoned. Otherwise they wouldn't try to sing the guitar solo.
posted by hippybear at 12:17 PM on July 7, 2017 [1 favorite]


Singing the guitars was my favourite.
posted by slimepuppy at 12:19 PM on July 7, 2017 [2 favorites]


Well that was really rather nice.
posted by ZipRibbons at 12:59 PM on July 7, 2017 [1 favorite]


As others have indicated, there's something about a mass sing along that just feels so wonderful on a cultural, collective unconsciousness type level. Bruce Springsteen shows have a ton of these -- I doubt he's sung the first verse of "Hungry Heart" by himself once since 1980, as he always drops out and lets the audience sing. There are similar parts in "Thunder Road," "Badlands," "Out in the Street," "Mary's Place" and many more.

Many years ago (late 80s?) I was lucky enough to attend Paul McCartney's show at Madison Square Garden in NYC. It was the first tour that he had finally relented to sing all the old Beatles songs, after ignoring them for so many years for whatever reason. I can still remember the utter *chills* that rang through my body as he started "Hey Jude," and 20,000 boomers finally, FINALLY got the experience they'd waited for their entire lives, to sing the refrain over and over and over with a full arena. It was remarkable. It went on for at least ten minutes.

U2, back in the day, used to end their concerts with "40," and the audience would continue singing "How long...to sing this song..." for a long time after the band had left the stage. In fact, on the Joshua Tree tour stop at Giants Stadium, I can remember 60,000 people continuing to sing the last line over and over as we exited and walked to the parking lot.

But "Bohemian Rhapsody" still is the single best sing along in rock history.
posted by replayer at 1:56 PM on July 7, 2017 [3 favorites]


In fact, on the Joshua Tree tour stop at Giants Stadium, I can remember 60,000 people continuing to sing the last line over and over as we exited and walked to the parking lot.

I saw them in Ft Worth on that tour and there was no end of concert applause, just singing, people singing, as they filed out of the arena, singing, into the multi-level carpark, singing... singing... singing...

Holy shit, I'm crying while I type that.
posted by hippybear at 2:06 PM on July 7, 2017 [3 favorites]


Wonderful video, thank you for posting.

While I'm an admirer of Freddie Mercury and appreciate Queen on a certain level, I am far from a fan and Bohemian Rhapsody always seemed like a bit of a novelty song to me. So, I was surprised at my tearful reaction. Interesting to hear how common that reaction is and I enjoyed reading all the above stories about group sing-alongs.

From replayer re Springsteen and "I doubt he's sung the first verse of "Hungry Heart" by himself once since 1980".

I saw Bruce at the Uptown Theater in Chicago (capacity ~4500) October 10 and 11, 1980. The River wasn't officially released until mid-October and Bruce seemed surprised that the crowd already knew the words to several songs, most notably, Hungry Heart. No doubt, many in the crowd knew some songs from bootlegs of previous shows. Other managed to get a copy of album before the official release. (I know I had mine before the shows at the Uptown.)

These days I find the sing-alongs to Born to Run and Thunder Road particularly poignant. Some of us were in our 20s when we first sang those words—so good to hear the heart-felt enthusiasm so many years later. "Maybe we ain't that young anymore" carries a hell of a lot more weight these days.
posted by she's not there at 3:04 PM on July 7, 2017 [1 favorite]


Holy crap, I'd completely forgotten about "40"! Talk about chills! I had the live recording of that on vinyl as a teenager and I'd listen to it over and over and over, as proof that such human togetherness was possible. I don't mean that in a lofty idealistic way, more like "wow a giant group of people can do a thing."

I was a offered a ticket once to see Billy Joel and Elton John on their "Back to Back" tour. I hadn't really thought about going; it was a hot and sticky summer, and the ticket prices were ridiculous. But this was a last-minute half-price thing, so I said why not, if only to be able to stand in a stadium with thousands of people all singing "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant." Totally worth it.

And of course, yes, the countless Bruce shows. When I lived in Munich in the early 90s he played there, and as he started with "Hungry Heart" and I started belting it out, all the Germans around me looked at me to hear what the words were.

Oh, I just remembered another one! Being on a campus bus with fellow drunken college students circa 1988, singing every word to the Gilligan's Island theme. God that was fun.
posted by flyingsquirrel at 3:07 PM on July 7, 2017 [1 favorite]


Liam Gallagher played a gig in Manchester (his home city) shortly after the Ariana Grande bombing there. Next day's Guardian reported: "After he exited the stage, the crowd chanted 'You can stuff your fucking Isis up your arse,' before hundreds joined in a rendition of 1996's hit Don't Look Back in Anger'. "

Perfect.
posted by Paul Slade at 3:09 PM on July 7, 2017 [1 favorite]


I was reminded of the YouTube video where Matt Nathanson teases the crowd was the opening chords to "You Shook Me All Night Long" and the crowd just goes for it.
posted by fings at 5:48 PM on July 7, 2017 [2 favorites]


>In fact, on the Joshua Tree tour stop at Giants Stadium, I can remember 60,000 people continuing to sing the last line over and over as we exited and walked to the parking lot.

I saw them in Ft Worth on that tour and there was no end of concert applause, just singing, people singing, as they filed out of the arena, singing, into the multi-level carpark, singing... singing... singing...


New Haven, CT on that tour. Singing out of the arena, singing in the lobby, singing up and down the three blocks of downtown New Haven as people made their way to find their cars.

....Peter Gabriel used to do that too, with "Biko". After a mind-blowingly energetic performance throughout the whole rest of the show, he spent most of "Biko" standing absolutely stock-still in front of the mike, and singing - until the very end, with that repeated "HO-HO-HOOOOOOOOOOOOO-OH....HO-HO-HOOOOOOOOOOOOO-OH...." which he sang while throwing his fist in the air in time to his words. And the entire audience joined in.

And then after a few turns of that, Peter started calling dedicating the singing to various people, right before the audience sang:

"Sing it for Nelson Mandela!"
"HO-HO-HOOOOOOOOOOOOO-OH...."
"Sing it for Salvadore Allende!"
"HO-HO-HOOOOOOOOOOOOO-OH...."
"Sing it for the Dalai Lama!"
"HO-HO-HOOOOOOOOOOOOO-OH...."
"Sing it for Steven Biko!"
"HO-HO-HOOOOOOOOOOOOO-OH...."

He would end his list with Steven Biko, and then let the audience do a couple more chants, and then suddenly say "the rest is up to you," and he'd walk off stage, leaving the audience to carry it on. And they would, the band continuing to play. Then, the keyboardist or someone would walk off. Then, several seconds later, one of the percussionists. Then another. Then Tony Levin on bass. Then the guitar. And one by one, each of the musicians would leave, the audience continuing to sing. Finally, it was just the drummer beating out the rhythm, before the lights cut out and left the audience in the dark, still singing. And only when the audience singing finally started breaking down did they bring the lights back up for the band to come out for one final bow. The time I saw Peter on the SO tour, we were singing for a good 45 seconds before they brought the lights back up.

It felt downright RELIGIOUS.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:53 PM on July 7, 2017 [8 favorites]


It felt downright RELIGIOUS

A good rock show is entirely Church to me.
posted by hippybear at 6:25 PM on July 7, 2017 [6 favorites]


If humanity reaches the stars and goes on intergalactic voyages and meets other species and centuries pass, we will still be able to engage in sudden near-perfect Bohemian Rhapsody singalongs, of this I am sure. Aliens will be baffled.

I feel like I haven't heard Bohemian Rhapsody all the way through all that many times in my life. It's never been on repeat for me, and it's not like it was on the radio so much when I was growing up. And yet even I can sing along to it! Not, like, acappella without the cues from the music, and maybe with a few fumbled words here and there, but still. There's just something really special about the song.
posted by yasaman at 7:30 PM on July 7, 2017 [2 favorites]


What is in play is that the sound from the people in the back has the greatest drop-off in volume as it reaches the mic on stage, such that the people that are most in sync with the recorded playback are substantially louder than the ones in the back. Sound levels drop 6 dB every time you double the distance, so if you compare the volume of someone singing 100 feet from the mic to someone 800 feet from the mic (which is a bit under a second of traveling at the speed of sound), that's a 24 dB reduction.

That would be the usual way of making the concert sound right to everyone, although the sound would lag the visuals for people in the back. But you can tell that's not what they're doing here, because if that were the case the headbanging and clapping would follow a wave as the sound travels to the back of the crowd -- and those phenomena are in perfect sync throughout the entire crowd. That is some wicked sound magic there.
posted by Bringer Tom at 5:41 AM on July 8, 2017


That is some wicked sound magic there.

Sound is not magic, it's physics. I spent well over a decade doing this professionally.

Freemont St. uses 50 clusters of speakers stretched out over the street but with relatively short distances between them (it's ~1500 feet total) and relatively low volume. The combination combined with the way the brain processes short delays lets them have even sound volume with very low latency compared to the visuals. You'll find a few high end music halls that do similar things.

When you're dealing with distances of hundreds of feet between speakers, you have to line them up properly or it's very disconcerting.

those phenomena are in perfect sync throughout the entire crowd.

They really aren't. You're seeing what you want to see.
posted by Candleman at 2:02 PM on July 8, 2017


I apologize if this was already linked, but more frisson goodness exists in other threads, like this one!

I LOVE THIS SORT OF THING MORE THAN I CAN EXPRESS IN ALL CAPS WITH THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE
posted by bologna on wry at 10:36 AM on July 10, 2017 [1 favorite]


Freemont St. uses 50 clusters of speakers stretched out over the street

THANK YOU for that link and clearing up how it was done. I spent hours wandering Fremont Street looking for zone edges and I could not figure out how they pulled it off. I wouldn't call it "low volume," since the FSE audio is pretty much the only thing you hear during the shows. It may not be eardrum-blowing concert loud, but it's not competing with anything else meaningful for your eardrums' attention.

I will tip my hat in respect to your experience in the industry. I obviously suspected the video was made as a demo of the sound design because I had never seen anything quite like that before. But then, your points are apt and I will accept your assessment of the situation. Well staged, but maybe not quite as magic as I thought.
posted by Bringer Tom at 7:10 PM on July 11, 2017 [1 favorite]


Relatedly: 8329 children singing "Birdhouse in Your Soul" (thinking the camcorder recording isn't doing the actual audio justice).
posted by Buntix at 12:00 PM on July 21, 2017


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