Because of the extra open area that becomes available using the L1, I had a disturbing problem at a gig last week. I was playing for some peope from Boston (I actually played Sweet Caroline three times...and I'd never played it before. Red Sox fans will know why.). Anyway, the person who hired me was, ummmm...inebriated and began to 'sing' into my mic (oh so loudly, things like "How does it feeeeeeel" and "Swwweeeeettt Hooooome Alabama...so out of tune it almost threw me out too). He then took the mic several times and generally intruded into the sacred performing area in an extreme way. Since he hired me, I didn't actually say anything. I just the let the music hang silent until he stepped back. His wife-to-be (the following morning) finally pulled him aside but it was rough. Has this ever happened to you and how did you deal with it. Just curious.
I feel for you and understand.
We have a venue owner who always gets bombed and wants to sit in and sing. He is bad, very bad, and can only sing once our singer gives him a hint of the first word of every line.
Once on stage, he'll invite his friends up so sing along and they won't leave until we take a break.
So...taking a break is one way to stop it, and how we did it.
Not having wedges on the floor does make it more attractive for the enebriated to just step up to the plate.
And isn't it amazing how many people "think" they can sing?This message has been edited. Last edited by: Drumr,
Crime scene tape and an outline of a body marked "the last person who crossed this line"
Like Drumr Pete, I take it as a signal that it is time to take a break, if only for the sake of person embarrassing him/herself.
Besides - who pays if something gets damaged?
Gear and reputations (of everyone on the stage) are at risk.
You have raised a very interesting and sensitive issue. The way I would like to deal with it is probably not the way most people would favor but I simply don't see why someone should be allowed to use your gear without your permission...ever! The big question, I think, is not whether you should allow it - you shouldn't if you don't want to; and you shouldn't have to provide an excuse or reason either - but how do you say no to someone like this.
Not so long ago Mike and me were playing a local bar when a girl came up - in between songs - and asked us very politely if she could sing an acapela song. We agreed (because we do try to involve the audience to join in with the performance on occasion...and she did wait until we were between songs, etc). And I'm glad we did this time because she had a fantastic voice and the song sounded fantastic through the L1.
A little later in the night her boyfriend came up to the microphone, when he heard Mike start singing a song he apparently happened to like, and he asked Mike - while Mike was actually singing the song - if he could sing it instead of Mike. Mike reluctantly agreed, figuring as I did that the guy probably sings as well as his girlfriend. Unfortunately the guy sang worse than I do! And he was drunk to boot. And on top of that he proceeded to take the microphone out of the holder on the mic stand and started tugging at the wire in an attempt to get it free, etc. Then, once it was free enough, he started in with his Joe Cocker imitation (though I think it was the booze). I'm surprised the microphone still worked after the way he yanked on the wire...and I was sure he was going to fall onto the L1 on a couple of occasions!
His voice was awful! No other way to say it.
Here's where the problem lies: Mike has often said (and I agree) that when patrons walk into the bar in the middle of something like this their first impression could be that this is who we are and how we sound! Not a good advertisement by any means.
So we are always playing a balancing act. We try to solicit audience participation on occasion, if we believe the situation suits, but we prefer to be the ones doing the asking.
I'm not sure what the answer is. If you say no then you are considered pompous and snotty. But I think that sometimes you have to say no...depending on the situation.
So we play it by ear and try to make reasonable judgements based on each particular situation. And one criteria I use is to see how we are asked. If we are asked in between songs - in other words, if the person doing the asking is considerate enough not to interrupt Mike while he's singing - then we are more inclined to want to accomodate the person. If the person interrupts Mike while he's in the middle of singing the song, and is persistent about it, the answer is likely going to be no! On occasion Mike's wife has even had to intervene to politely pull guys away so Mike can continue with his singing. Neither Mike or me are particularly good at singing a song while at the same time trying to hold a conversation with a persistent audience member!
One thing I'm prepared to do, now that I have the T1 right at my fingertips, is to mute the microphone if it is abused by an unruly (and/or out-of-tune) audience member. If they don't hear their voice then neither will the audience, etc.
There is another thing we could do - though we haven't yet, but I'm all for giving it a go: Mike sings through a DigiTech 300 voice processor because he likes a little delay on his voice, etc. Well, this processor also has an effect that sounds like Alvin of the chipmunks. We use it when we have little kids in our audience, for example. The kids (and the adults) love it! Next time someone wants to take over the microphone to sing a song I'm going to ask Mike to 'turn Alvin on'. The reaction from the audience should guarantee that they know we are not being serious, etc, and it will hopefully end the impromptu performance from the unwanted audience member.
It would be interesting to hear how other performers handle these types of situations.
I always make sure that everyone who is supposed to be on stage shares the responsibility to protect each other and each other's gear.
If there is any doubt that this will an issue, we tell the management of the venue about the policy.
We shouldn't feel compelled to provide a rationalization, but if I did, I might say "for insurance reasons". And this would be true. Who pays if someone damages some gear (knocks over a microphone stand and takes out a Guitar for example).
The problem arose as soon as you said "yes" to a stranger.
I have had very little success negotiating with inebriation. So if there is any chance that this will be the outcome, I do not set the precedent by allowing anyone not paid to be there, to step onto the stage.
Not pompous and snotty, just firm, polite, and professional.
Save them from themselves ...
I would not humiliate someone on the stage.
I used to run regular open stages (in a relatively controlled environment). My answer when asked about impromptu performances was to invite that person to the next open stage event.
Thanks for your input.
I meant that I would use this technique if someone insisted on grabbing the microphone against our wishes, or if they turn out to be out-of-tune, etc. It could be argued that if someone is drunk on stage and singing out ouf tune then they are already humiliating themselves.
What I had planned would most likely get the singer some applause from the audience, because (I've found that) no matter what you sing - or say - if you sound like Alvin the audience will applaud, so long as you don't overdo it. The singer might not put two and two together but at least we'd get the singer off the stage reasonably happy.
I'd rather the singer give the audience Alvin than anything that's out-of-tune.
But you're right in that no one should be allowed up on stage unless we first agree to it.
With respect to damaged equipment, we haven't had any yet but we have come close several times. So I'm always cautious about that little issue.
StuThis message has been edited. Last edited by: StuartD,
I work a venue a couple of times a month where the headliner will not allow even a customers foot to rest on the stage. He will ask, "Are you in show business?" to which the patron will usually answer, "No." To which he replies, "Then get your foot off my stage."
A lot of alcohol is consumed in this bar, and there are young "floor" men working constantly. If a patron gets both feet on the stage he/she is removed quickly.
I don't concern myself too much with the feelings of someone who will walk into my space and take my mic and ruin whatever I have worked hard to create. If they were any good they wouldn't do that. Period.
If the person who hired me interupted, I would be tempted to just stop playing, and remind him of what I was hired to do, and if that didn't include playing for him while he made a fool of himself, he should get off the stage.
I refuse to be a human jukebox that simply responds to dollars. It's not worth it.
I played a party last night and gave away $163.00 in tips because I didn't like the way they came to me. Yea, I'm a little crazy.
John Denver used to say "Feel free to sing along. But please limit yourselves to the choruses, I'LL handle the verses, after all it's MY show"!
Friday evening we played for a company party for a cool Home Theatre company - they install high dollar media rooms - awesome office. It was threatening rain and high winds when we arrived, so we set up inside in their big demo room instead of outside under a tent as planned. Close to the end of our first set, a young man, employee I'm pretty sure, brought up a note to us that said "can you move the band outside?", of course WHILE we were playing a song... I SO wanted to say "Can you move this big screen and speakers and projector and tuner into the room at the end of the hall right quick?", but I settled for... "No".
I blame the whole karaoke craze. I think it tends to cheapen what we as musicians and performers have sacrificed the better part of our lives to perfect. People get the impression that all it takes is a little nerve (or alcohol) and "Voila" instant music! If you don't believe me, just look at the preliminary auditions for American Idol to see the delusions that some people labor under!
Excellent point you make. I have worked (and do work) hard to improve my musicianship and singing. Now I'm trying to become a better stage performer. But it's time consuming, dedicated work. I do it because I love it and only over the last couple of years have I made decent money. But I agree with you, if was easy to do, everyone would be doing it. Unfortunately, some folks have the idea anyone CAN do it. I can't perform open heart surgery and so I don't grab the scalpel from the doctor and try. (OK, I admit that's a severe analogy...)
I like the grey-haired one's attitude a lot. But I woulda kept the tips.
Here are a couple of things that have worked for me. If I am playing a crowded area without an actual, raised stage, I have a rope light that I bought at a big box hardware store. I run that in a circle around, me, my little table and my L1 and create "my space." That seems to have the same effect that I used to get from the wedges. It lets people know that there is a division of space and if it is a family event with kids running around, I can say, "you have to stay out of the roped area."
As for people wanting to join in, if someone asks if they can sing, play, whatever, I just say, "I'm not allowed to do that," and quickly go into a song. Now if it's the owner or the person who hired you, that obviously won't work but it has always worked with general bar patrons. I have never had someone come up and grab the mic! Wow! Maybe it helps that I'm 6'4," 210lbs and standing on a riser I use to play my Porchboard. Jim Croce said in an old interview that he learned to play without a guitar strap so he could get his guitar out of the way quickly when fights broke out!
I used to worry about the balancing act that was mentioned between pleasing the crowd and keeping control of the show. But I finally decided that if the only way someone was going to enjoy my show is if they got to sing along, it just isn't worth trying to please them. The gear and the control of the show is far more important.
Sorry, this is getting long but for private parties or events where someone might want to say a few words, etc. I just plug in an SM58 with a switch on it and leave that on my table. If someone comes up to use the mic, I just hand them that. It keeps that division of space.
Hope some of that helps. It's a tough situation. I made the choice to stop playing venues where this comes up. I won't play any later than 11pm and I won't do venues that expect a human jukebox. But if you have to play those kinds of shows, with drunk, obnoxious people, these kinds of things unfortunately happen.
Alembicmike, you make a good point. Not only the karaoke, but any place loud music is played and there is not a musician, seems to train many people to just shout over it. Maybe this is part of the "louder is better" phenomenon that we see from some bands. Many of the upscale chain restaurants blast canned music from their ceiling speakers so loud that you can't have a decent conversation.
I think we have had this discussion here before, but I sometimes turn down my volume when the room gets too loud.
OLDGHM, it must have been the moon, becaues I also played a crowded private party Sat night where people kept walking through my space. I think in the future instead of neatly putting up my equipment covers, I'll place them to provide an imaginary barrier. Could help.
How about a sign like this near all your gear.
(Look familiar ST?)
The Variax is able to do a "Digital capo" thing... so I'm thinking of storin a "capo-up-5" on one of the acoustics.
If someone thinks they can sing the song I'm doing... I can always push the button and go a 5th up... <G>
Man it is hard when it is the guy paying you. You have to be very political. Trying killing them with kindness. Or in your case look for a friend of his/her for help. Bars are another problem. Karaoke has made everyone a singer. I work in a high tourist environment. There are 4 karaoke bars within the block. I direct them to these bars. I am lucky because the owner and the regulars that come in do not like karaoke. If I know someone sings in a band I might let them up. I believe a true professional musician does not want to intrude on someone else’s show. I think it is un-professional and an ego trip at your expense. I have asked karaoke singers what will I get out of being they’re backup band and all I get back is a blank stare. Be prepared for someone to say they know the song and then ask you where the words are. Here are some things you can try.
1 – Ask management how they feel about it. If they say no then you tell the person no. Management has to back you up on this.
2 – Tell them that you have 6 other singers bugging you and if you let them sing you have to let everyone sing.
3 – I don’t let anyone up that does not ask me personally. They have to ask nice.
4 – Remember you are hired to do a job.
5 - I have told people they can get up and sing for $20.00 a song. I made $60.00 one night off of one guy. Most people just back off.
6 – If it is in your nature, just be rude.
7 – Tell the person you have some request you have to get to and after that they can come up. Then forget about them and hope they get tired of waiting and leave.
The most common problem is what you ran into. Somebody got up, it was enjoyable for all, and then the bottom fell out. Bad/drunk singers do not know they are bad. Once the barn door is open, the cows head for the microphone. Good Luck.
I've had to deal with this same situation and the way you deal with this is to check him, and check him immediately.
When I get hired for a gig, the stage belongs to me and I don't need to be interrupted by some owner who thinks cutting me a check gives him the right to interrupt my session. If he wanted to do the gig, he shouldn't have paid me.
That said, if its a regular spot I plan on coming back to I might check him with a bit of humor in it, to keep up his image and not start bad blood. Wait until after the show to have a more frank discussion, but you've gotta address the situation on the spot.
I'm serious about my music and don't compromise on it for anyone.
SongForOne.com: The Revolution is Arriving: Sept 1, 2007
Musicians, join while sign up is free and earn money playing music from your own room.
Just eat four or five cloves of fresh garlic before the gig and knowone will come anyvwhere near you!!!! " mind you. You might also clear the entire bar"
This very scenario happened to me two weeks ago. The woman who hired me heard a song she liked, came running across the floor, jumped up on stage, stuck her face right next to mine and began singing along with me--completely out-of-tune. The audience was aghast. She did it another time later in my set.
I just let her. I didn't really have a choice since I was in mid-song when she took the stage.
Frequently, some guy will come up and ask if he could play a few songs with my guitar. I used to have a lot more patience, but I find this incredibly rude, clueless and presumptuous. Get your own gig, dude. This is my show.
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