Let’s come up with some new rules for attending concerts.
1. As we’ve discussed before, be respectful with your camera. Don’t be an asshole. If its an SLR, don’t be snappin’ all up in someone’s ear. If its an iPhone, make sure the light is not on when you’re taking video. Simple enough.
2. If you’re going to yell things in between songs, be cool about it. Do it once, then back off. The performer is not there to have a conversation with you. That’s what they have friends for. And their friends don’t exclusively see them at paid events.
3. If you must sing along, do so at appropriate times, at an appropriate volume. Don’t hold out your notes longer than the performer. Don’t do harmonies with them at full volume. Don’t add vibrato to said longer notes and harmonies to get attention. Because it will certainly get you attention. But it may be far more rage filled than you would hope.
I say these things, in order of increasing importance, because we experienced all of them last night. Glen Hansard played an intimate benefit performance at the Housingworks Bookstore in Soho. A beautiful little bookstore, which donates all of its proceeds to charity. What a lovely guy that Glen is. Too bad his number one fan came to the show straight from hell.
Let’s talk about some positives. Hansard has a voice like no other. He means every note, there is no hint of BS. At one moment he can be joking with you, the next there are tears in your eyes, and you fight them back with the force of a thousand tiny Bono’s (which I guess is just regular Bono) just to look like you’re keeping it together.
He’s had well deserved astronomic success recently, he won an Oscar and a Tony, and is just a Grammy and Emmy away from an EGOT. Let’s make that happen. He has a new solo album coming out which I have not heard, but the songs he played from it were promising.
We won’t get too much into song specifics though, because there was a greater issue at hand. This terrible person in the front row. Lets call her “Sheebaz; Queen Of Evil” or just Sheebaz for short.
Man, this girl knew how to get right in there. There were maybe 20 seats, the rest standing. She must have waited in the pouring rain for 2 hours. We were outside in line for quite a bit, and had to stand. There was no one in front of her. People surrounded the stage, but there were no direct eye lines to give her a death stare. And clearly, her powers of supreme evil fought off all the collective dirty looks sent her way.
It started simple enough…she was singing a bit too loud when the crowd was asked to sing along. “Who is doing those annoying harmonies?” Who’s holding out the notes a little too long? Man, that’s just not cool!” But we all figured it was a passing incident. Oh no, oh god no it was not.
It just didn’t stop. It was clearly coming from one source. A brunette with “The Crazy Eye.” You know “The Crazy Eye”…it’s unmistakable. That look someone gives you, which clearly says “I’m going to kill you, then eat your hair*” The look that makes you think “Wow, I have to get out of here, wait, where did everyone else go? Oh no, they already left. FUCK. How do I get out of this one…….NOOOOOOO” but by then it’s too late…she’s already started talking about the independent theater productions she has acted in.
Between each song, she would respond to anything Hansard said. Like a full on response, not just “Woo!” woo is ok, you’re supposed to do that. This is a direct quote:
Hansard: “So I got this new record coming out, I’m gonna play some of these for the first time
Sheebaz Queen Of Evil: OHMYGOD Glen I heard the new album today and I love it I just had to tell you that I’m such a big fan and it sounds so great SO GREAT!!!
I’m not exaggerating that in any way. She went stream of consciousness on him. Someone yelled “You were great on Fallon!” a nice little note, and she chimed in! Giving a full rundown of what she liked about it!
We looked to Hansard for guidance. The man was a busker on the streets of Ireland, this must look like amateur hour compared to the characters he’s seen. But honestly, I think he was a little thrown off at the crazy this queen of evil was throwing his way.
After a few comments, he finally addressed her head on. Hansard donned his armor and was going into the cave of supreme darkness. “Oh ‘tanks, ‘tanks. You’re very sweet. You can yell whatever crazy crap you want, but ya know, I feel like you might be affecting some people’s joy by doing that.” The first dagger was thrown. He had calmed the dragon in the way only he could. He didn’t punch her in the head, like Jeff Tweedy, although maybe he should have.
He turned to the guy with her and said “Is this your boyfriend?” she says “HUSBAND!” oh wow, someone help that guy. I didn’t hear what the guy said, but Glen echoed “NOT AFTER THIS?????” Clearly the man had been through hell. We all wish him the best.
For the most part, it quieted down after that. She continued to sing her annoying harmonies, but only when the crowd was prompted to sing. There was no more chatter. I had to position myself in such a way that the head of the person in front of me was blocking Sheebaz: Queen Of Evil, so I would not be distracted by her writhing about during the songs.
What brings a person to do this? To have complete disregard for those around them, and pretend the show is happening just for their own enjoyment. We came to the conclusion that she had one of the following professions:
1. Works with animals (they can’t tell her to STFU)
2. Theater Manager who everyone hates
3. Degenerate Gambler (I just made that one up, it has to be one of the top 2)
That must be the ultimate challenge for a performer. Not that a crowd hates you, because then you just want to try harder, or just say fuck you. But when someone loves you to such a degree, that they’re ruining your show out of pure love and admiration. That is precisely why some famous people have handlers or bodyguards.
The show was still fantastic. Marketa Irglova showed up, and they played some Once/Swell Season hits. The two have such beautifully matching voices, and everyone could clearly feel it. Even Sheba kept quiet, well, only during their first song.
I think we need to start a committee. It will be way more organized than the Occupy movement. Lets call it “People For Ethical Behavior at Shows” or PEBS for short. It should probably be a .org.
(*credit to J Aptman I for that line)