Long live rock, I need it every night

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Talking At Shows

I've read a lot of stuff on other blogs (and on this one as well--"I'm not just a member of Rock Club, I'm also a client"...Sy Sperling? Anyone? Oh, fuck it) about people talking at shows. I had a few thoughts on this and as usual I'm having trouble keeping those thoughts to myself, despite the fact that they'll likely add nothing of value to the national conversation. Here goes:

  • It's undeniably annoying. It does seem like it's getting worse these days, I can't deny that.
  • It's not always the people you think it is, doing the talking. Everyone seems to have this idea that there's these groups of prototypical frat guy-types from the burbs with their bim girls, and they're the ones doing all the talking. I think everyone wants to blame the Late Night Shots people, I guess. But I must be fair to our meathead brethren and note that everyone talks at shows. Take me, for instance. When funny looking people walk by me, I generally tap Potsy or Sack on the shoulder and make a comment. If the comment is funny (always, in my opinion; sometimes, in their opinion) I'll repeat it to both of them. I'm not shouting, but I am talking loud enough to be heard. At the Bon Iver show there was this fat guy who walked out of the bathroom with a piece of toilet paper stuck to his show. You'd have to have had the self-restraint of a anorexic yogi not to mention that to the person next to you. So you have a room of 500 people. Now, there are definitely the jackass LNS people talking at high volume throughout the show, but we must admit that the aggregation of all the side convos--hey, you want a beer? or hey, that guy looks like Phil Collins! or Jesus, I should have taken a shit at your house before we came here--contributes mightily to the general din.
  • The sound quality/acoustics of the venue contributes to the problem. People talk at every show. I only seem to notice it at the Black Cat. The sound quality at the 9:30 washes everything else away, which is nice. The smaller venues like Rock and Roll Hotel, or DC9, put you so close to the amps that you can't hear anything else, sometimes for days afterward.
  • The bands bear some responsibility for the problem as well as the solution. If people are talking over your music, that generally means they're bored and that your show is flaccid. Pick it up. Play faster. Play louder. Start jumping around and cursing. Start a fight with the bass player. Take your clothes off. Do something. People don't talk at good shows. If you're going to play beardy folk-type music, you'd better be really really good. If you're the Black Lips, you can be as ragged as you like, but no one will be talking over you, because they'll be disgusted and speechless as you spit in the air and catch it in your mouth on the way down (that still grosses me out, by the way). People talked over the Bowerbirds, but not over Bon Iver, and there wasn't much talking at Fleet Foxes (at least where I was). Don't blame the crowd, it's your job to shut them up.
I gave my love a cherry...hey, could you keep it down back there?

One-nil to the talkers


rob said...

it was more the tonguing at the end of the BL show that left me speechless...

Anonymous said...

I talk at shows. I am very uncouth.

But you're right - it's because I am bored. If the people watching is better than the music...

Jimbromski said...

ah, I forgot about the man-lovin' at the Black Lips.

see, that's something you don't talk over, two dudes in a band making out.

Anonymous said...

I talk at shows. Except Maroon 5. I thought that guy TOTALLY looked like Phil Collins! I'd like to catch your spit in my mouth, Jimbromski.

Jon said...

Hey -- I heard about the shout-out on Washingtonian's site - many thanks!

OK...I'll shut up now.

Anonymous said...

Eww. Gross! Ever since I saw Tara Jones catch Billy Campbell's spit in her mouth at camp in 9th grade...I'm scarred.

Adam Levine is really cute.

John Foster said...

If there are more than 50 people in the room then there always seems to be someone. The Grizzly Bear show at 6th and I was transcendent (review at byt) and there are no drinks, it's seated in the balcony, everyone is so tense from being so still and silent and yet I have the only 3 guys in the place chatting about regular guy bullshit behind me (as well as being the only 3 guys with shirts tucked in with combed hair and not looking like they worked at a non-profit). Never fails. The only thing I don't get is why pay to go into a place where a band is playing when you can go 2 doors away and chat and booze for free?

As for side comments - we all know there is talking and then there is "talking" at a show. The key is are you disrupting the show for those around you.