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The blog is a series of ideas, some short thoughts some are more like essays. Others are just tips. 

  • jones-allen

The China Shop Syndrome: deal with yobbos in the audience

Updated: May 29

David Rowlands is a successful, veteran musician that I know. He recently wrote:

" I was at a music event last night. The large group of people sitting at a table right next to me were not there for the music. They were shouting over the music and from my observation they were all yelling at once and nobody was listening. You can take different approaches to the is situation: sit there and do nothing, move away or cheer loudly at the end of every song until they get the hint. I was told to calm down because people are entitled to do whatever they want wherever they go."

He raises a tough question. On stage there is extraordinarily little you can do.  Who could forget the stabbing that occurred when the Rolling Stones contracted a bikie group to run security at one of their their concerts, with Mick Jagger fairly pathetically begging people to stop fighting.  And that is partly the point. From the stage, you can’t influence it, without stopping, and you never stop, because that is what people will notice, flinch at and remember.

More recently there was a backlash against Arj Barker after he stopped his show in order to ask a mother and crying baby to leave. People will remember how the awkwardness spoiled the show long after they forget the actual content of the show.

There are very few art forms like pub and club music, where you can’t drown them out because of noise restrictions and you can’t intervene.  Also, the business model is that you are there to get them to drink.

Can you hear John Fogarty singing Lodi:

“If I had a dollar for every song I’ve sung

Every time I had to play while people sat there drunk.”

I some times comfort myself with the thought that the drunker they get, the better I sound or maybe that’s just how I hear music when I am halfway there.

The bouncers could be a lot more active and venue owners could be a lot more directive to the bouncers, but they tend to assume that its the entertainment’s problem.  They forget that the yobbos spoil it for the 90% of their customers that want to hear the music.

In the end, you suck it up and protect yourself as best you can.  You try to keep drinks away from the gear. Fold back boxes create a useful boundary. I like to use expensive guitars and amps. I have a very thin, spun cable (so it is not too obvious) that goes through the handle of lockable guitar cases and amps etc and I padlock them together, so they can’t be cherry picked when I am not looking.

It is so sad that you have to do this. It does not happen at the opera or the theatre because the audience would very quickly suppress it, but it’s tolerated at music venues, and it need not be.  Like every other arena, they have an inside and an outside, and yobs belong on the outside. At least make them take it down the back where they will not disturb so many people.

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