There was a very interesting article in the Telegraph U.K. talking about audience responses & behaviour during a concert. Click here to ready the full article. This is a different take on how audiences respond & what is acceptable. I think there is a line one should not cross in any given situation.
I attended a great concert by a popular group. There were two ladies behind us who kept talking about how cute "he" looked in his leather jacket and how many places she had travelled to see him. This time she had flown all the way from Vancouver to Toronto to see "him". As the discussion really had nothing to do with the music at hand, I finally turned around and asked them to step out to talk or start listening, PLEASE. I don't think I was out of line and they did cease the chat and seemed to be listening.
I have always thought that any behaviour is acceptable as long as it doesn't interrupt another's enjoyment of the event. The screaming that used to happen when the Beatles or the like sang was and still is a really pain, in my opinion.
So how should an audience behave?
1. Standing - I attended a Jon Bonjovi concert (fabulous by the way) and the young people in front of us were enjoying some mood enhancing smoke by times but stopped their friends from standing in front of us when we hadn't chosen to stand. It was a unwritten law apparently. However, we all stood and swayed to the ballads but only if the people behind us were. I like that "rule".
2. Shouting or singing - Sometimes the performers encourage singing along or answering etc. No problem there. If you are interrupting others, I feel it is unacceptable. They paid money (lots of it usually) to hear the person on stage not you.
3. Swaying or waving. Again if the crowd is doing it or your movement isn't interfering or you have checked with your near neighbours (eye contact counts) then by all means feel the music. There are times when I want to get up and dance. I will either dance my fingers on my lap or escape to the lobby and dance. When you gotta, you gotta.
4. Clapping & Hooting & Standing - At the end of a piece, clap or hoot or whistle your praise but please oh please save the standing "O" for really great, above average performance.
5. Etiquette - I love proper orchestral etiquette with the first violinist coming in first, tuning the orchestra and then the conductor. All of that is so historical and sets the tone. I think we can teach others by quietly continuing the applause at the correct time. For instance, not applauding between movements so that the piece can flow in its entirety. If someone applauds incorrectly, we can just stay still and perhaps it will catch on. If not, it isn't the end of the world.
Truly, the most important thing is that people go to the concerts. Hopefully, they will be thoughtful of others. Just as hopefully, others will be accepting of different styles of enjoyment and not get their knickers in a knot over small indiscretions. Go, listen, enjoy and applaud.