As a bartender at a smallish music venue (600 tickets nightly), I’ve seen a ridiculous number of not-yet-famous and once-famous acts. Metal, REALLY metal, hiphop, and the tragically popular pop-punk play at my club. I served Ritchie Ramone a Maker’s neat last winter. The grouches from Fuel will not persuade a free Long Island out of me because I haven’t forgiven them for the summer “Had a Bad Day” owned the radio. Chris Jericho’s band, Fozzie, is juiced with fun and great songs and should be more popular. You haven’t heard of the face-melting Bachs Of Rock, but you will by 2015 if the eleven-year-old drummer’s Mom lets him tour. These groups employ a front man (usually the lead singer) who clocks in as a grinning, asskicking, party generator the moment he steps off the bus. Aside from writing better songs (re: stronger chord-based melodies- not enigmatic lyrics), the one thing both newish and experienced bands could use is a frontman who isn’t chatty, replicated, or prone to giving us instructions on how we can make him feel more comfortable.
I am not here to complain. Furious Owls is here to help.
- Shut the fuck up and PLAY.
We don’t care what you titled the next song, what you were thinking when you wrote it, or what it means. If the song is any good, Rolling Stone will ask you those questions next month. Unless you are Freddy Mercury, don’t tell us your name or the names of anyone in your band. *Exception– rappers should yell out their names often but only while they’re rapping.*
You may ask us “How ya feelin’ Springfieeeeeeld?!!!” exactly one time. We will convey our excitement with a hearty “WOOO” and that should be enough to satisfy your curiosity. Any more questions and you sound like a pathetic girlfriend who knows she is about to be dumped. And don’t double-dip. “I SAID– ‘How ya feelin’ Springfieeeeeeeld?!!!’” will garner louder cheers the second time around, but we’re actually less psyched since the first time you asked five seconds ago. We just know that being louder will move things along quicker.
Prepare your goddam set list. Are you kidding me with this?
There are three ways to properly introduce the next song. The one time in recorded history a singer provided an illuminating perspective on a song we were about to hear was February 2008 when John McCrea of CAKE said, “This song is sad, so sad.” I knew I was about to hear the best baseline from the 90’s –“The Distance.” Short, sweet, zip it.
Case number two comes from Scott Pilgrim: “We are Sex Bob-Omb and we are here to make you think about death and get sad and stuff. One!Two!Three!Four!” This is a template for introducing the band (We are ____ and we like to _____). Use the OneTwoThreeFour if several instruments must all start on the same note. In fact, when one song ends, you have ten seconds to get a sip of water before you say “One!Two!Three!Four!” and start the next one. Your chatting is the speedbump on our highway to rocking.
Finally, write songs that open with a single instrument since most of the best songs begin this way anyway. Add one ingredient at a time, you Iron Chef of rock. Now you have a start cue built into the song and we don’t hafta hear a clumsy frontman tell us what’s next.
2. On the overuse of “We don’t give a fuck.”
Oh, pop-punk singers, your dipshit $80 haircut begs to differ. We hear this way too often and we no longer believe any of you. We know that you give a fuck about your ticket sales, we know you give a fuck that your girlfriend’s enthusiasm for your artistic future is waning (directly correlated to ticket sales), and we know you crave our approval simply because you are on stage. You don’t have to write believable lyrics. Just don’t write obvious lies.
The inverse of section 2 goes, “Dave Matthews, we don’t believe you anymore when you write a new song about heartbreak.” He’s pretending to give too much of a fuck. I don’t know any woman between twenty-five and forty who wouldn’t drop her panties and make this man a sandwich. In that order.
Rappers, on the other hand, are exceptional at convincing me no fuck is given. On “I Don’t Give a Fuck” (every rapper is required to title one song thusly) Lil Jon lists several activities someone might be doing to either impress or irritate him, each followed by the rebuttal, “I don’t give a fuck.” This is not only because Lil’ Jon is incredibly confident, but because he has both the Northside and Southside with him. (Here: http://rapgenius.com/Lil-jon-i-dont-give-a-lyrics) His nonchalance extends to nearly everything except his friends, for whom he clearly needs and cares, albeit in mostly conflict scenarios.
The best example of a believable claim to indifference is Kurupt’s verse on 1993’s Doggystyle: “I gives a fuck, why don’t y’all pay attention.” Kurupt is so apathetic, he isn’t even interested in conjugating verbs. Brilliant.
3. We will not put our hands in the air. We will not wave them like we just don’t care.
Care about what, I wonder? Is hand raising an activity worthy of condemnation? Aside from these particular instructions which have annoyed us since the 80’s, we are tired of being told how to better enjoy your product. Obviously, I’m not referring to instructions that are part of the song (“Shake it like a Polaroid picture”) or the title itself (“Shake That Body”). I’m referring to the fact that during your down time, you’re resorting to telling me to move around instead of inciting my movement through your stage performance and rhythm. I’m annoyed that I came here to drink my drink and watch an energetic show and instead I got a personal trainer on stage telling me to clap, sing along, leave the bar to fill up the pit, and of course, jump with you. You start jumping. Maybe we’ll join, maybe we won’t. Our energy may correlate to yours, but the causation arrow points stronger from the stage to us, you unimaginative dolt. Isn’t it more exciting when you don’t ask?
Only House of Pain can tell me to jump around. That’s just good advice for not getting pummeled at a show when you are surrounded by five-hundred drunk Bostonians.
Kris Kross was much more polite about encouraging plyometrics. They didn’t tell me to do something– instead they sorta predicted what would happen during the next three minutes and nineteen seconds. The Mack Daddy will make me jump, jump. Daddy Mack will make me jump, jump. Kris Kross will make me jump, jump. And all of their predictions came true.
Freddy Mercury was the greatest FrontMan ever. This is not debatable. YouTubin’ Mercury is required research for you, FrontMan. Though you will never have his talent, you can clock in with confidence when you get off the tour bus at Empire (http://www.empire-nova.com/), cut out the self-indulgent chitchat, and give us a show in order to earn what we know you desperately need– our love. And free rail whiskey from the rock venue bartender who liked you.