by Geoff Short
What kind of a world do we live in (or what kind of gigs are we doing) where this stuff happens? Apparently, and sadly this one. As I sat here reading this craziness, I was reminded of the piece I wrote 4 years ago as Band Leader who has experienced my fair share of threateningly aggressive party guests. Despite the flippant title of my piece, I never imagined I would actually be reading a story like the one above. Unfortunately in this day and age, I’m not surprised. I’ve reposted my original article below. What are the solutions? Share your thoughts.
THE AGGRESSIVE REQUESTOR or PLAY “SHOUT”…OR DIE!
(Originally posted August 2011)
A-ggres-sive Re-quest-er: (lat. Requestus Obnoxious); aka Party Neanderthal – 1) Wedding reception Guest (usually male) with an inability to handle social drinking in any civilized way – usually presenting itself with the alcohol-induced hallucination that unless the creature hears a particular inane song of choice IMMEDIATELY, it will die – usually leading to verbal assault on the band or DJ on duty.
What is it with some people? Throw back a few drinks at a reception and they start treating the band or DJ like their own personal ipod. Don’t get me wrong – we always want guests to have a great time and keep the dance floor full and polite requests are expected and even welcomed at many events. But you know the type – the drunken goon whose beer-goggles (or, in this case, earphones) lead him to believe that unless the band plays the particular song of his choosing, the Earth will crack open like a walnut. Ironically this pickled heckler’s “requests” are never really requests at all, but insistent demands bellowed after every song that isn’t his tune of choice.
And why is it that it’s never like a really unique or interesting song? I’m really starting to believe these buffoons’ musical vocabulary consists of “Hang On Sloopy” and “Let’s Get Drunk and Screw”. I’ve even started mentally giving a prize to the first over-served party boy to loudly demand we play “Shout” (usually somewhere near the top of the 2nd set)!
I realize this makes me sound like a party snob or something, and I really don’t mean to be. I like a good drankin’ song as much as the next guy. But the fact is, these types of guests can be really disruptive to a band or DJ as well as the other guests. Even worse, they sometimes get threatening (I’d love to be a fly on the jail cell wall when this guy tries to explain to the cops that he assaulted the DJ because he wouldn’t play “Sweet Caroline”!). It’s a good bet that this obnoxious guest hasn’t been in on any of the planning for this reception and probably doesn’t know that the DJ has strict guidelines from the clients who are paying not to play certain songs or types of music, not matter how politely the DJ might try to explain that. Not to mention the fact that we actually do like those tunes too and would have played them in due time anyway. They’re great party songs. But for most artists, the more a guest screams at us, the less likely that guest is to ever hear that song at this event. We are there to do a job and like, everyone else, demand the respect that affords.
I guess I’m a little biased. I’m not a song requester type. In all my years of experiencing live music, I’ve never felt the need to infuse any of my personal song preferences into a band or DJ’s set list. I’m sure it’s because I’m usually the one performing the music week to week and I know how constant requests can take your eye off the ball of trying to keep the dance floor full. But when I’m not performing, I’m usually cool with whatever the band plays. I just like watching live bands and DJs perform their craft – good or band, to me it’s always interesting. The actual songs being played have little to do with it for me. It’s either a good dance song or it’s not. And if the setting I’m hearing said music in happens to include some social drinking, that has a much different effect on me than it seems to on the song request bully. After a couple drinks I’m digging every song and become the friendliest dancer on the floor! This band is AWESOME!!!
So if you’re an Aggressive Requester – and you know who you are – take it easy. Just let the band or DJ do their thing and enjoy the night. If you don’t like a song….go get a drink. Scratch that – go get a cup of coffee. But if you think you can’t handle that, load up Hang On Sloopy, Brown-Eyed Girl and Shout on your ipod and jam the night away…from the comfort of your car…..out in the parking lot!
Just kidding – we’ll get those tunes on in the next set!