Dear Poppa Chris
I am the lead singer for an original band currently playing around Melbourne and am noticing that lately I am getting a tough time from Hecklers; drunk bastards who are telling us to play a song they like etc ...... what can I do to stop these pricks stuffing up a good gig? signed
Dave Parker Preston Vic.
If somebody were to write a psychological report of a heckler, it would probably read as: "self-important wannabe trying to bring attention to himself usually caused by a lack of self-esteem". As normal factors go, they are usually piss-ants trying to show off in front of their mates (that's if they have any).
There are many ways to deal with a heckler, remembering that if you have the mike, you have the power; I once silenced a heckler by letting him get the first three words out then loudly interupted him with a quick 1 ... 2... 3... 4 launching the band into the next tune ..... he kept quiet the rest of the night.
Even the best musicians get hecklers; and the best musicians usually have great one-liners to shut them up, for instance:
Doug Wimbish, bassist for Jungle Funk at the Continental 1998: Jungle Funk just finished a trip-hop tune with free improvising and solo spots to great applause ....... heckler: PLAY US A SONG! Doug Wimbush: HOW ABOUT YOU GET UP AND PLAY ONE OF YOUR SONGS! .... and then said to the audience "In my experience, people who say things like that are usually the guys without a gig." Applause followed ... no more heckler.
Solo guitarist playing in Melbourne restaurant/bar: heckler: PLAY US SOMETHING WE CAN DANCE TO! Guitarist: HOW ABOUT YOU DANCING SOMETHING I CAN PLAY TO!
Captain Beefheart; American Tour 1973. heckler starts yelling at Beefheart ..... Beefheart bellows into the mike: STOP THE MUSIC! LIGHTS! LIGHTS! I WANT LIGHTS ON THAT MAN!
Keith Jarret, solo jazz piano virtuoso at Dallas Brooks hall, 1978 ... in the middle of a solo, gets to a quiet bit ...... jazz policemen start repeatedly coughing loudly ruining the atmosphere for everyone there .... Jarret stops playing, walks to the microphone and says ...... "ANYONE AFRAID OF THEIR OWN BOREDOM SHOULD LEAVE!" ..... no more coughing.
Lead Singer well-known Melbourne cover band, Last New Year's Eve at Downunder Rock Cafe, Melbourne: heckler: SING .... ARRR... FUKN..... SONG YAAAAAA ....!!! lead singer: COME UP HERE AND SAY IT YA CUNT!!!
Contemporary Jazz Trio, TREE, at Bennet's Lane, Melbourne 1997 One table of Jazz Police talking loudly through quiet Bass Guitar solo; Bass Guitarist stops playing and yells: "SHUT THE FUCK UP" .... then proceeds to put bass down during ensuing drum solo and fronts the guilty table!
Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull at Thebarton Theatre Adelaide 1994 responding to unintelligible rantings from a heckler: "MADAM, I CANNOT HEAR A WORD YOU ARE SAYING .... PLEASE COME TO THE STAGE AND REPEAT IT TO EVERYBODY HERE!"
Original Band doing a Door-take at The Grosvenor Hotel, St Kilda, 1983 Five pub regulars don't want to pay the door charge, sneaking around to the back door, publican tells band to let them go and not cause trouble, regulars proceed to hang shit on band all through first set until drummer yells: "LAST TIME I SAW A MOUTH LIKE YOURS IT HAD A FUKIN' HOOK IN IT!" (in 1983, it was a new-line!)
Drummer doing a clinic at Mowbray College 1998 to a group of young school-kids with one particular brat talking all the way through: Drummer: "OH, I'M SORRY, IS MY CLINIC INTERRUPTING YOUR CONVERSATION?"
At a gig at The Club in Collingwood June 1997; The Zappa Instrumentaale made one heckler dance to the Be-Bop Tango in front of the audience courtesy of some friends at the bar. Footage of the incident later appeared on TV!
So Dave, here are a few stories and one-liners as a defence ... you have to pick the situation, there are times when you risk getting thumped in the parking lot, it's simply a judgement call; but above all else stick up for yourself; you are the one on stage; you are the one taking all the risks; you are the one people are paying to see.
Hope it helps All the best