How would you handle "diificult" punters ?

rhysonsax

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Our covers band played a fun gig on Friday night at my local cricket club's fundraising match. We played after the game in an open sided marquee and people had a good time, including enjoying a couple of guest vocal spots by the cricket team's "karaoke king".

The thing I found really hard was dealing with a punter who was "tired and emotional" and obviously wanted to be the centre of attention. The symptoms ranged through exuberant dancing, asking our singer if she is married, anouncing that he played sax with James Brown and was a lot better than me, pole dancing, invading the band space to offer helpful advice etc.

At the end when we were packing up he decided to do some drunken singing over the PA and then the final straw came when he picked up my tenor off its stand, apparently intending to show off his sax soloing skills. At that point I lost my rag and grabbed by MkVI off him, let him have an earful and made sure he disappeared.

This sort of thing is why I got a Taiwanese alto and tenor to play on gigs rather than my Selmers, but I shouldn't really have to.

Have any of you got advice on how to handle these sort of situations better ? Or maybe you have got similar stories.

Rhys

PS Earlier on he also grabbed my wife when she was having a dance at the front, but I didn't react so badly (just don't mess with my sax !)
 

rudjarl

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Hi Rhys,
in the eighties, when I was playing in a band, we came across people like that every now and then. There isn't much you can do about them, unless they try to come in with the band. We had to physically throw a somewhat drunken "difficult" punter (as you say) off stage at one time. While the guitarist played his solo in Meet me in Stockholm, the base player and I threw him down the one meter drop to the dance floor where people graciously gave him ample room to land.

I think you did what needed to be done, and there are preciously few other options in dealing with people like that. They are an unfortunate part of the bargain.
 

TomMapfumo

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I would make sure that one of your band has a word with the Organiser beforehand to explain that certain behaviours are not acceptable to the band, particularly touching any equipment, or coming onstage without permission/supervision etc. (You might want to give concrete examples of what CAN happen!). Hence any breach of this should be dealt with by the Organiser concerned who could make an announcement onstage and\or have some individuals who agree to act as stewards. This should be agreed at the beginning and the band informed of who will be acting in the various capacities outlined above, and can be called upon as required.

Kind regards
Tom:cool:
 

Saxlicker

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You did pretty well I'd say.
Keeping cool and showing them no attention is best even if it makes them up the anti a bit.
So eventually he got your attention and I take it he was no more trouble after the earful?

When I feel things like this happening the sax gets put away immediately.
 
OP
rhysonsax

rhysonsax

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One thing I realise is that it's easier when you are playing on a stage than when you are on the same level as the punters. Most of the time when things have happened like this (none as bad, but some worrying moments) it has been when we aren't physically separated from the audience.

The chicken wire solution as featured in the Blues Brothers film has a lot to be said for it !

Rhys
 

kevgermany

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In my days as a folk club junkie (strictly in the audience!) I saw a pair of loudmouths come in one night. One of the regular artists walked in with a handmade fretless bass guitar (which we all knew he was brilliant on), but these two took it upon themselves to jeer and pass loud comments about how crap they thought he would be. Was a bit embarrassing, but Maart just seemed to ignore them. They put themselves down for a floor spot and performed a very poor, drunken song, can't remember what it was. The organiser then called Maart to follow them..... 15 minutes of jigs and reels played at breakneck speed (and in perfect tune/time) rather showed them up and got Maart an ovation. For some reason they didn't stay much longer. Maart went on to play with some big bands as well as make a super name for himself as a session muso. Unforgettable night!
 

jonf

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Maybe this makes me a bad man, but if anyone grabbed my sax they'd be at serious risk of a smack in the gob.
 
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Yes this is a very common problem and demonstrates the effects of alcohol on an empty head.
like you i have on occasions had to fend off the unwanted attentions of drunks and morons, and as has already been said, there is often little more that you can do than just keep them at arms length or as i have done, at microphone stands length.
as for grabbing your sax, that is a cardinal sin and i think it is down to the organiser to police the gig and not put that responsibility on you.
 

Nick Wyver

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I don't recall ever having a problem with them. Being 6'5" and 16 stone may help.

However, in both bands I currently play in the front men have occasionally had problems with drunk women trying to grope them on stage. Sometimes it's funny sometimes just plain embarassing. Usually someone else in the audience assists in removing them.
 

dooce

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Daventry
In my days as a folk club junkie (strictly in the audience!) I saw a pair of loudmouths come in one night. One of the regular artists walked in with a handmade fretless bass guitar (which we all knew he was brilliant on), but these two took it upon themselves to jeer and pass loud comments about how crap they thought he would be. Was a bit embarrassing, but Maart just seemed to ignore them. They put themselves down for a floor spot and performed a very poor, drunken song, can't remember what it was. The organiser then called Maart to follow them..... 15 minutes of jigs and reels played at breakneck speed (and in perfect tune/time) rather showed them up and got Maart an ovation. For some reason they didn't stay much longer. Maart went on to play with some big bands as well as make a super name for himself as a session muso. Unforgettable night!
Would that be Maart Allcock of Fairport Convention? Phenomenal player. I saw him at the Cropredy festival a couple of years ago dualling with a mandolin player on his Fender Jazz bass. There was nothing the mandy player could do that Maart couldn't match - yet another ovation.....
 

thehunt

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Studham Bedfordshire
I played my first gig last year at a rugby club... I was really worried but they were brilliant, mind you if someone had grabbed my tenor i would have had to have my Mp and crook seriously commercially disinfected afterwards.. If you get my drift... You did the right thing.;} Phil
 

rob4

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SW London
There's also Charles Bronson - 'you believe in Jesus buddy?.......you're gonna meet him'

I played the bass in a pub once where a bloke came and stood right in front of me, facing the audience. I ws at the side hemmed in by the speakers and there was nowhere to move. I chose not to stick my fretboard between his vertebrae and played the gig looking at the back of his head!!

Now, off to my therapist.....
 

AlanU

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Enfield, North London
You just have to constantly be aware, but as has been said, a stage even one beer crate high provides a demarcation.

I've played some rough places in my time (anyone remember The Three Rabbits, Ilford?) but the one that scared me the most was RAF St Mawgan. It was a Saturday night and the 'erks mess was packed with testosterone and alcohol fuelled RAF, Army and US GIs and they didn't all seem to get on terribly well together.
Fights and scuffles were breaking out every 15-20 minutes and no-one came. I was expecting MPs with batons, but nothing!
That was when I prayed for the chicken-wire over the stage.
I think we played from about 21:00 to around 03:00 with a couple of breaks.
It seems to me that they are left to burn off steam as part of the natural order of things.

Mind you, we'd played the NCOs mess the night before, and they weren't very much better.
What a shower!

Next stop, RNAS Culdrose. Here we go again.
 
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RedBottom

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My bloke's old bass player was a sixty-something, bald as a coot. When he played, he would stand stock-still for most of the evening and barely ever crack a smile. He earned the nickname 'Victor Meldrew' and, amongst the rest of the band and us WaGs, it was never a problem for him or anyone else because he had a great sense of humour. However at one pub gig a couple of punters just wouldn't give it up. They were late-teens/early-twenties, clearly out their native environment because this was a blues band and they were dressed like something between punk-rockers and skinheads. One of them had closely shaven hair with an attempt at a leopardskin print dyed into it. The 'I don't believe it!' line had come out of leopard-head's gob once too often, so 'Victor' stepped across to the singer's mic and said, 'Yeah, I know. But at least I don't have ringworm!'.

Audience laughed and two rather embarrassed lads drank up and slunk off.

For an object lesson in how to handle tricky audiences, watch Jimmy Carr, the comedian. I don't find him that funny and wouldn't go out of my way to see him, but I once found myself sitting in on one of his slots a comedy festival. It was not an easy audience at all and one man was being particularly awkward. I can't remember the words that were spoken, but Jimmy handled and returned the bloke's comments every time and managed to make him look so small by the end that he will probably never try heckling a performer again.
 

RedBottom

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Reading back AlanU's post reminds me of another gig my bloke played. It was a pub in Coalville (if you've ever played Coalville, you'll understand).

The 'stage' (level playing area) was at one end of the room, with access down either side for the respective men's and women's toilets - you'll see in a moment why I don't say 'ladies' and 'gents'. The landlady was away, due back that night. The crowd was lively but didn't appear particularly hostile. In fact, there was a hen party in and a group of rugby players. During the band's first set, there had been some activity with people coming and going to and from the toilets, but the band didn't really register it as anything unusual. However, when they took a break, the landlady approached them and announced that she would have to pay them off as she was closing the pub for the night.

Turned out that she'd arrived back in the car park just in time to see a woman's head smashed through the toilet window. Inside, the toilet floor was awash with blood. Seems the stag party that was the 'other half' of the hen party had called into the pub and one of them had taken exception to the fact that his girlfriend (in the hen party) appeared to be flirting with one of the rugby players. They were all very drunk and everything had become rather heated, and it ended up with him chasing her into the women's toilet and putting her head through the window.

Not sure whether the wedding went ahead, but it was, apparently, nothing out of the ordinary for Coalville.
 
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