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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Most Annoying People At Gigs

There's a great article by Brian Frank over at called The Top 10 Most Annoying People At Gigs that I thought was both funny and spot on. I haven't gigged in bars for a long, long time, so it's interesting to see that some things never change, and probably never will. I only included numbers 1 through 5, but you can read the rest of the article here.

Now I will note that alcohol is a major player here in how people become annoying and at times more annoying at a gig.  In the words of Homer J. Simpson alcohol is, "the cause of and solution to all of life's problems."  With that said, let's get into the list.  For those of you non-musicians who happen to read this, I hope to God you're not one of these types and if you are, know who you are.
1. Freebird!!!
I have to say this falls as numero uno for me and from what I can tell other musicians.  I would venture to say at three quarters of my shows someone yells "Freebird!!!"  And once one person yells it, other people start yelling it too.  It is an awesome song,  but it's gotten tarnished because of the people that start yelling it out.  The thing about people who yell out this Skynard song is that they always think it's so funny.  Well, I'm sorry it's not an original thing to say and last time I checked the lyrics, it was not a funny, haha, kind of song.  The thing is, because this is done so often, I don't play the damn song.  And if you get on a musicians bad side we just might give you a freebird--yes, saluting you with the middle finger.
2. "I'm a professional/I can sing" so "let me play/sing"--followed by childish begging
I've run into many folks who want to come up on the stage and entertain.  In fact, often times they make a couple claims to try and accomplish this.  Some people say, "Oh, well I'm a professional musician, it's all good."  Others say, "I can sing, I'm really good."  Let me cut to the chase on why this usually ends badly and is annoying--nine times out of ten they're not a professional and cannot sing.  And if they do come on stage, it can ruin the energy of the show.
Here's why it's annoying though.  First the "professional musician" plea.  If you are a true professional, you don't ask the musician who's show it is to get up and play at their gig.  It's not your gig--time and energy are going into it and you're name is not on the bill.  It is different if the musician playing does happen to know you are a professional musician because there's a respect.  But I have asked people where they've played and they end up revealing they don't play out at all.
For the "I can sing really good" plea, it's a bit different.  If my gig was a karaoke gig, then sure anyone could come on stage and sing while I played.  But I'm not a karaoke host or musician and neither is my gig.  The times I've allowed someone to sing they don't really know the song or we can't agree on a song to play or (most often) they do not sing well (and many people fumble trying to use a microphone).  This situation reminds me of the initial rounds of American Idol--you know those people who think highly of their singing but actually suck.
I have learned to not say "no" to both these folks, but tell them to speak to the management at the venue.  Usually the venue doesn't want people on the stage anyway for liability reasons.  Many times though I've gotten into an argument with someone who starts to beg and whine and not believe they should ask the management.  If the manager allows it, then I'm cool--it's not on me then if suckage appears on the stage.
3. I'll just jump on stage anyway
Even after the management said they can't come on the stage, people do anyway.  Some venues I play have a security person to stop them, but those that don't I'm left on my own to handle it.  I try to just go with the flow, make it quick and get them off the stage.  It can be quite ridiculous at times if they're drunk and not in control--and I end up having a big old mess standing next to me.  Also, doing this worries me because I've had people step on my equipment or come close to spilling their drink all over or knocked into my guitar.  Musicians worst nightmare.
4. Let me make a request/give you a drink/talk to you/let's do a shot while you're in the middle of a song.
This bugs the hell out of me.  I'm playing a song and someone comes to the stage and starts talking to me.  Well, I'll be brutally honest--I can't have a conversation back while I'm in the middle of the verse.  I can't put my hand up to say, wait a sec, since it breaks up the chords of song.  But these folks are just impatient or maybe just clueless as to what is going on.  The best thing I have thought of doing is when there's a break in the song, I just keep strumming a chord over and over or the progression (I can sometimes talk and play at the same time) to see what they hell they want.  Usually I try and say, can you just wait til I finish the song--that has failed though.
I also can't take a drink or a shot in my hand while I'm strumming and I can't swallow liquid while I'm singing either--both are physically impossible.  Some people just can't wait though.
5. "You don't know any of the songs I am requesting.  You suck!"
I know just over 300 cover songs, but I don't know everything.  I admit I feel bad when someone keeps coming up to make a song request and I don't know how to sing or play what they want.  Most people will move on or eventually we'll find something they want to hear.  But other times I've had people give me a look of being annoyed with me and I have had a handful say to my face that "I suck" because I don't know "anything".  Hey, I know what I know--don't get your panties in a bunch.


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Jon Ostrow - MicControl said...

Thank you Bobby! Im glad to see you've checked out MicControl and found Brian's article valuable enough to share with your readers. I've been follow actually a few of your blogs now for quite a while. Great stuff!

Feel free to reach out any time, Id love to chat

Thanks again for the support!

Jon Ostrow

Gian Nicola said...

Lol, really interesting, in Italy it's the same!! World is a country :-)

Gian Nicola said...

Bobby, I am looking at
What do you think about music nowadays? I think that Katy Perry is on of the best, but the others... wow... I have grown with Led Zeppellin and so on... I can't understand why people don't like to listen to good music! Because I think there is still good music somewhere. If you know where it is, please let me know! (I hope I am clear enough)
Gian Nicola

Bobby Owsinski said...

Who's to say what good music is? One man's genius is another man's dreck.

Francis Power said...

These observations are right on the money but I have also noticed that security at bar gigs can equally have a negative impact, especially if it gets overdone. I guess its all a matter of security pros knowing their own back yard, and what is and is not appropriate behavior. But at a recent, very good natured bar gig in London the problem was the (recently arrived in the UK) Russian security guy who was applying Moscow rules to a mild mannered, polite London suburb. Sure the guys he was 'securing' were well lubricated (and had offended the female bar staff - not on) but they weren't interfering with the show and they were basically 'happy' drunk. There were two security guy's there, one enormous West Indian, who had a great manner and presence about him and brought just the right level of authority combined with enthusiasm for people to enjoy the evening. But his colleague, late of Moscow, seemed to think he was himself the main act and that it was prize fighting night. It ended up with the Brother having to quieten down the Ivan, fortunately for the band this took place outside! None of this disrupted the performance but it did upset a number of completely innocent people in the audience, some of whom were knocked over in the thick of it.

To be fair I've seen this particular band have 'drunk' problems at this venue on a previous occasion, when there had been no security. They did indeed have to deal with it themselves and from memory yes, the worst offender repeatedly requested Freebird! But there is a difference between professional security and thugs. Wasn't that a part of the Stone's problem at Allamont?


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