Concert Foul No. 32: Shouting Out Requests

freebird_mini.jpg
"Meltdown! Meltdown!"

He wouldn't stop shouting it. No, not Brent Best or anyone in Slobberbone. Some dude in the crowd during a recent gig.

It was constant. Consistent, too. Always "Meltdown! Meltdown!," never just "Meltdown!"

This was a guy that I had already moved away from once, yet somehow found myself all too close to again, just a few songs after I had attempted to ditch his not-so-special brand of cheering along. 

OK, so a guy just wanted to hear a song he liked. Big deal. It's rock 'n' roll. Get over it.

Sorry, but I can't. I effing hate it when people shout that crap. They just need to let the band do what they're going to do.

There's a fine, but not hard-to-define line between happily rocking out with your Slobberbone out and just being an oblivious oaf that pisses off the attendees around him or her.

The worst offense of this nature? When someone shouts out for a band's trademark tune -- the song that everyone in the room knows will be played before the night's over.

For instance, if you're at an Old 97's show, there's no need to shriek out, "Play Timebomb!" If you find yourself at a Toadies concert, you really don't have to squeal out for "Possum Kingdom." Promise. It'll be fine. Just let it happen. Because it will.

Besides, there's a thing called a set list. It's that thing that the band members almost always have and typically look down at  between songs. A dirty little secret: Most likely, the band has already determined the songs they're going to play on a given night before they even take the stage.

I know it can be trying. Sometimes, a fan's favorite song might not be the signature tune of a band's catalog and, therefore, it might not be in the performing act's regular rotation. There's probably a reason for that. It can be a bummer, I know. This past summer, the Hold Steady didn't play "Your Little Hoodrat Friend" when I saw them. And, to you tell the truth, I was kind of pissed about it. I love that song, and it's easily one of the most listened-to songs out of the thousands of tunes I have on my hard drive. Even though people shouted it from the floor -- and probably bugged the hell out of those around them in the process -- Craig Finn and crew just weren't going to bust that one out for whatever reason, request-shouting be damned.

There's no formula to how a set-list is concocted. Maybe the band hates your favorite song now. Perhaps there's some sort of emotional attachment to the tune that was once tolerable to the performer, but that can no longer be handled emotionally. Maybe they just don't want to play it. Maybe they just want to be contrarian dicks about it. Who knows? 

Point is, it's on them. Not you. And there's no need to burden your favorite band with your own emotional baggage. So stop making an idiot of yourself while practically sobbing in the middle of hundreds, maybe even thousands, of people.

Here's the thing: I'm not suggesting everyone turn a venue like the Granada Theater or the Palladium Ballroom into a peaceful, stagnant library. I often like to cheer, air-punch dance and sing along to the point of hoarseness, actually.

Scream all you want. Just don't scream a request. Or, if you really can't help yourself, scream a funny one. The "Freebird!" bit is a tired one, but still solid i the right situations. Another example: In 1997 or 1998, when Better Than Ezra played at Trees, a request-shouter took it upon himself to ask not for "Desperately Wanting" or "Good," but for the cheesy and ubiquitous-at-the-time Verve Pipe smash "The Freshman." The entire crowd roared with laughter and even the band expressed their disappointment that they hadn't worked out a live version of the song for the off-chance someone might request it.

It was awesome.

But, chances are, you're not that clever. So just shut your pie-hole and let the people around you enjoy the show they came to see also.

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18 comments
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esteban
esteban

The Drive-By Truckers are an example of a band that never has a set list and figures it out as they go. Terrific live show, and great at dealing with those annoying guys.

Jasun Lee
Jasun Lee

I always get confused by this exchange:

Fan: "FREEBIRD!!!!"Guitarist: *plays the opening chords to Sweet Home Alabama"Everyone else: *just acting like there is nothing wrong with that*

Rico
Rico

I hear ya. Went to Guy Clark's concert at Poor David's. Clark has earned the right to play whatever the eff he wants to play. And no, I didn't pay to hear those 30 to 50 year old frat boys sing. I came for Clark and Verlon Thompson.

Perry Moore
Perry Moore

I think most of the Freebird noise is from old guys that are poking fun at the drunken song request shouters. From my observation, they are no-dope-to-share freeloaders that are there mostly to lean against my wife's boobs and puke in public. I hate the idiots that shout in the middle of the quiet parts, too, especially after the band announces that they are recording the gig.

Cujo
Cujo

The band is usually recording off the soundboard and the edits clean them out. When we go to shows and tape them there's usually one or two idiots that try to ruin it if there isn't a tapers section and we can't get the soundboard. If you have reasonably good editing equipment you can almost always edit out the losers who talk about their latest vacation for 2 hours.

Julia B
Julia B

My favorite was a drunk girl shouting "PONY ON A BOAT" at Lyle Lovett at Gruene Hall.  He said "...gimme a minute, I'm working up to it."

CR
CR

Sorry.

Cujo
Cujo

The ones that kill me are the burnouts that ask for what is normally the band's closing number (not counting encores) at any show from the first song on. Think "Won't get fooled again" by The Who for an example. But at one show I saw the performer (Aimee Mann on the final show of the tour) actually asked for requests after a third(!) encore and shot a few down because she couldn't remember the lyrics. Sadly enough, too many bands have a fixed setlist and won't deviate from it.

easily amused
easily amused

aren't a lot of the show setlists dictated by lighting, video stuff already programmed into computers and stuff?

Cujo
Cujo

You're right about that. But those are the ones I skip since I can get legal bootlegs of those shows. If I go see something like Gov't Mule, it's pretty much extended jams and an improvised set each night but for something like <gack> U2 <plotz> I'd skip it even with free tickets because it's all computer generated crap. It's not because they suck with the crappy guitar or rhythm section or anything like that, nosiree!</plotz></gack>

trannnyntraining
trannnyntraining

I guess I must be a boob, because I generally don't pay that much mind to these folks. Oh well. FREEEEEBIIIIRRRD! 

easily amused
easily amused

I've never understood artists "getting tired" of a song. "That song" is putting your kids' kids' grandkids through college and giving you fame beyond belief. The worst concert foul is standing up for the entire thing. Even during the song off the new album which noone knows or doesn't like.

ChrisU
ChrisU

REM's glory days they refused to play one of their most popular-Radio Free Europe. and people shouted for it all the time. Stipe once told an Oklahoma City audience 'shut up, shut up I hate that song'

TLS
TLS

This is why I print off the set list to every concert I go to.  One, so I know when to safely go to the bathroom and two, so I can shove it in the person's face to let them know their damn song will be played.  Some people like the element of surprise and not know what song comes next but if you've ever been caught with your pants down in the ladies room when THE BEST SONG EVER WRITTEN comes on you'll change your ways. 

Christi
Christi

Thank you thank you thank you!  I've been saying this for years!  At a Gin Blossoms show years ago in Colorado, I actually turned around to the girl yelling for "Hey Jealousy" over and over to tell her to calm down, they'd play it...I promise.  It actually worked! (Shocking, I know!)

It's honestly even worse for me when people don't even know the name of the song they want to hear!  At a Better than Ezra show, a dude (in New Orleans, no less...their hometown!) kept yelling "Play running through the wet grass"...uh, dude, that's not the name of the song...and they say the name of the song in the song, so, really?  @71d5c2ae7b1eb60074db07bf1667959f:disqus Unless the band asks for your input as to what you want to hear...let them stick to the set list....please!

MattL1
MattL1

Absolutely agree.  It pisses me off to no end when concertgoers shout out song requests.  However, I have been to shows where the artist screwed up their set list or decided to play longer than anticipated.  They asked for requests.  That is the one and ONLY time it's appropriate.  

Ronnie Van Zandt
Ronnie Van Zandt

Whenever anyone calls out Freebird, I flip em off with my left hand, then give em an encore by flipping them off with my right hand

what i hear
what i hear

Wonderwall is the new freebird. Apparently.

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