How to Deal with Heckler's...One Man's View

CandidPicker

Because Opportunity Seldom Knocks Twice
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We tell them if they pay us $500 cash we’ll learn it at setbreak and play it. No takers so far.

if anyone ever yells we suck or something the singer just says “yeah I know that’s why I told you at the start that the more you drink the better we sound.”

This is true. If I ever need change a song in my setlist because someone doesn't like that particular song, I've got more songs I can choose. My feeling is that most folks misunderstand the purpose of why certain songs are played at given times.

Concerning hecklers, what separates the men from the boys is how tactfully and patiently one responds. Even so, there are times when you might be tempted to blurt something back. A wise person will not throw fuel on a critical comment, because it will only turn up the heat on the one who tossed the fuel. It may very well be how well we put up with others, or put them out.

Although I'm thinking in terms of worst case scenarios here, in reality, the only desired results are, you play your set, sit and listen to the music with perhaps a beer, pack up your gear, and drive home safely.

I still tend to think in terms of how folks sitting behind their computers work with computers. Think before you speak and input good things, you may get good things back. Make a bad decision and input bad stuff, expect bad stuff in return.

If at all possible, I hold out to the heckler a chance to listen and learn. Although I'm still discovering what works best for my needs, I can't teach a person any better if they won't at least listen. (My secret weapon is a viewpoint question. It helps the heckler think before he replies, and might silence him.)

Unless its a singalong, it's important for me to know my audience before I reason with them, or hold out my hand to let them have the floor. I might say, "You were doing so well just a second ago. Where did we go wrong?" The unintended humor is diffusive and invokes a laugh from folks.
 

CandidPicker

Because Opportunity Seldom Knocks Twice
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I must be confused about your profession. :p:p

So seriously, CP, it's time we address this the way it has to be addressed. I have never been heckled while playing music. I have while playing sports but that's completely differently and how you handle it is different. So if this were to ever happen to me, I'd do what anyone here should know to do, and that is to ask yourself "WWSD?"

If I had his number, I'd call him for you and ask. But, think about it... "What would Sergio do?" I hope he answers himself, but I'd like to think he'd at least consider my El Kabong response. I mean, have you noticed how many SE's he has? Could be that you take the cores for playing at the gig, and the SE's for El Kabong if needed.

Heckling has occurred only a few times in my lifetime. Some years ago, our local watering hole was home to a jazz and blues jam open-mic. The host of the jam had a faithful following of folks who would attend his on and off again house band with various bandmates who accompanied him to local gigs.

There was one woman (I don't recall her name) who was a heavy drinker and partier. She firmly believed that the host and the house band were owed the honor of the gig, and that all other guests who stepped up on stage were amateurs, and objects of derision. Dependent on how well or badly we played, her jibes were direct, and cutting remarks. No question, the woman disliked folks who were trying to find their own stage voice.

In time, those who improved their abilities on stage survived and enjoyed the music scene. Those who fell by the wayside chose not to return. My personal feeling was rather than promote a spirit of cooperation, it was more a spirit of competition. And sadly, folks who are only beginning to experience the music scene often don't have the skills to play well enough to be appreciated. That's where hecklers are not welcome. The host, by contrast, was the mentor who nurtured and taught. The host never developed an attitude that was negative, for he knew what would occur if that were allowed.

My feeling is that it is better to encourage someone who has tried to do well, than point out his errors. Constructive criticism is vastly superior to disparaging, but many folks sometimes will not take the time for this. They only see dollar signs and what advantage they have. In conclusion, a good guitarist or musician will see the good in people, and encourage that. He may need to correct some inappropriate habits, but the purpose is so the student guitarist makes changes that helps him improve for the better, not for the worse.

Regards hecklers, I'm not sure there is any real solution in dealing with them. We just try to find coping mechanisms when we face various adversities and endure. If we have strong enough faith that things will improve, they will.
 

jak3af3r

Jake
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We went to Nashville about 15 years ago, when my daughter was offered a music scholarship to a school there. While there, we were walking the strip after dinner and heard a really good band playing. We got closer, we could see that the stage literally was in the front window of the bar... so when you walked by on the sidewalk, you were 2 feet from the drummer. The stage was so small, I could see the top of a small combo amp behind the guitar player but couldn't identify it because it was pushed all the way up to the window/wall. He was playing a Tele and had two pedals in front of him, a Fulltone Fulldrive and some kind of delay. The cables in front of the pedals were hanging off the front of the stage. Between the amp and pedals, he had maybe 18" of space. He could barely move without kicking the amp or pedals. His left foot was hanging half way off the side of the stage. I mean, he couldn't move! That stage was tiny. They were rockin though.

That's the typical Broadway gig. Glad I don't do that anymore.

And you have to watch people trying to lean on the stage for pictures twisting pedal knobs or spilling beer all over everything.
 

DreamTheaterRules

Not falling for the banana in the tailpipe
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Regards hecklers, I'm not sure there is any real solution in dealing with them. We just try to find coping mechanisms when we face various adversities and endure. If we have strong enough faith that things will improve, they will.


I have two comments in regard to your post. The first is blunt, but honest and in no way meant to discourage anyway. IMHO, you should be a decent player before you get on stage. Stage is not the place to learn how to play. If you’re a bad player, while classless and offensive, I wouldn’t expect to get on stage and not get some kind of negative feedback, in many circumstances.

That said, if you’re even a decent player, who can at least chord and follow others without getting in the way, then NEVER waste your time worrying about what some drunk asshat thinks. Seriously, anyone who hassles at an open mic... is not someone whose opinion I’d let concern me in anyway. I said that as nicely as I could. ;) Music is not a sport. There isn’t a winner and a loser. Anyone who truly heckles someone playing music is a sad, sad lowlife loser.
 
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CandidPicker

Because Opportunity Seldom Knocks Twice
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I have two comments in regard to your post. The first is blunt, but honest and in now way meant to discourage anyway. IMHO, you should be a decent player before you get on stage. Stage is not the place to learn how to play. If you’re a bad player, while classless and offensive, I wouldn’t expect to get on stage and not get some kind of negative feedback, in many circumstances.

This may be true for paid gigs, but locally, we have open-mic nights that are designed to nurture comparatively new musicians so that they can gain experience in front of an audience and be more confident on stage. There are many instances where a guitarist may sound God-awful at first. These are usually allowed to perform with the encouragement to practice more and visit again once they've learned to play solo. If they are truly clueless about music, the seasoned guitarists will typically follow up with Van Morrison's "Into the Mystic." This is more than commonplace, and represents much of what we realize as guitarists ourselves.

I personally know of one old guy (poor guy had dementia) who would step up on stage and play two songs, then forget if he had already played the first and would play the first song again. It was both comedic and sad, but we didn't boot him off stage; we just had to help him gather his guitar and walk him to his seat.

The next step is learning to listen to and accompanying other musicians in a band setting. This helps with ear-training and being able to follow direction.

That said, if you’re even a decent player, who can at least chord and follow others without getting in the way, then NEVER waste your time worrying about what some drunk asshat thinks. Seriously, anyone who hassles at an open mic... is not someone whose opinion I’d let concern me in anyway. I said that as nicely as I could. ;) Music is not a sport. There isn’t a winner and a loser. Anyone who truly heckles someone playing music is a sad, sad lowlife loser.

You've said things as politely as you could. That's respectable. It's fortunate that in today's twisted world, musicians can find some friendship and peace in a place where good behavior is rewarded, and inappropriate is quietly dealt with.

And yes, it's wise to realize that trash-talking is something that competitive sports players do when they wish to intimidate their opponent. I tend to think that when we cooperate with one another, the creative process is more enjoyable and stimulates good things, rather than demoralizes and forces competition. TBH, I personally don't like competing with people. If they wish to lead or win, they deserve what they get. I'd personally prefer to be humble and not hooked into wasting my time or effort trying to defeat someone by subterfuge or falsehood. I couldn't do that myself. And since I'm not an army, I have no desire for battling wits with hecklers who are only going to string you along.

Good behavior? Yes, you might be rewarded, but truthfully, keep your gifts. Bad behavior? Expect ostracism and punishment. Neutral ground? We've learned to observe and comment only when our words will contribute to the topic being discussed, without detracting or distracting. Ridiculous behavior? A foolish one may not always receive what he expects and sometimes finds out why things go badly for them when one intentionally messes with people. Truth this is.
 

Boogie

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…pack up your gear, and drive home safely.
Where the hell are you playing and what are you doing to piss them off?

In all my years of playing crappy bars, not once did I fear for my safety. Never. Yes, there was that one time with a recently released inmate and a bar-clearing fight…not to mention 2 dozen cops…but we just stood back and watched. And just look at me…it’s not as if I look like I belong at most of these places. Chat people up, be cool and respectful, and put on a good show. Zero problems. I even drove a ridiculous car a few times.
 

CandidPicker

Because Opportunity Seldom Knocks Twice
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Where the hell are you playing and what are you doing to piss them off?

In all my years of playing crappy bars, not once did I fear for my safety. Never. Yes, there was that one time with a recently released inmate and a bar-clearing fight…not to mention 2 dozen cops…but we just stood back and watched. And just look at me…it’s not as if I look like I belong at most of these places. Chat people up, be cool and respectful, and put on a good show. Zero problems. I even drove a ridiculous car a few times.

At local open-mics, but nothing that would offend people. You can relax; I'm not the type who confronts folks, unless it were greedy bar owners for collecting and diverting tips to their own pockets when they were designated for a worthy cause.

Those "hacks," if you will, are what some may contend about. It's basically the "world" protecting its own interests while competing with us. The "world" can't silence the truth. It only tries to discredit those who speak it. That's the reason why you may think the hecklers are pissed off.

They are caught in their own lies.

Regards the word, "never," um, respectfully, I'm not the "fish" you're trying to "haul into the boat." But still young enough to remember what a "switch" does. Be cautious, folks. I remember how this hand plays out.

I'm old enough to know when to smile widely at the curious aspects of today. Excuse me while I readjust my virtual dentures...:D
 
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CandidPicker

Because Opportunity Seldom Knocks Twice
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Nope. Why would I want to push your buttons? We're friends.

We're cool.

I'm just amazed that in my neighborhood, people sit outdoors on benches and expect "their neighbors" to provide them with the latest news and info. Aren't they really judging for themselves?

Do I consider these folks my friends? Not particularly, if they have their own agenda and interests that is only pressuring me for more information. And since the outside world is really only pushing my buttons and wishing to be let in, ACCESS DENIED.

Go find your own source of amusement.

I earnestly suggest that seek someone else's viewpoint.

You'll find me in the tub, with a glass of wine washing my socks.
 
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CandidPicker

Because Opportunity Seldom Knocks Twice
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You know. I don't recall ever being heckled.
I've played in some loud and rowdy places and did walk from the stage to the floor for a personal chat from time to time, but don't think I got heckled.
Maybe I just didn't care.

I used to do the same to catch up with the regular patrons that I knew well. I didn't quite get to know the folks who excluded me from their circle of friends. It was no loss for me, you can't expect to be friendly with everyone, because only a few good friends will be friendly with you.

You see, I've gained experience, but also have exercised faith that my true friends don't judge me for what I may seem to be, in name or character.

The rest of the world, let them try to find their own scapegoat for their own problems. Time for me to run along now, time to make the donuts...
 

ScottR

If nobody saw it, it didn't happen.
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Would a well placed punch to the throat not suffice?:eek:o_O

But seriously though...As a kid I was raised on old southern Baptist Church services. (That I hated).
The preacher said he had to be louder than the loudest screaming kid in the congregation. So, he adjusted his volume accordingly, to drown out the kid. Same principle with the heckler...crank it up!!;)
 

CandidPicker

Because Opportunity Seldom Knocks Twice
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...But seriously though...As a kid I was raised on old southern Baptist Church services. (That I hated).
The preacher said he had to be louder than the loudest screaming kid in the congregation. So, he adjusted his volume accordingly, to drown out the kid. Same principle with the heckler...crank it up!!;)

No thanks. I don't react in violent ways. That is core to my belief. FTR, I'm a clerk, not a cleric. My understanding of this is relative to the discussion. Perhaps that's the most appropriate way of my thinking of things.

And no, if it were fans, the band and venue has ample means of coping with unruly crowds.

I'd personally not bother trying to silence a screaming child in a congregation because it's not in my care, and is the child's parent responsibility for their behavior, not mine. Remind me what large seashells signify for communication, and we'll chat.
 
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