Fans raise a little hell with traveling bands
Musicians usually save their best stories for their songs. Tales of love, tales of mischief, tales of introspective existential awakenings. Write what you know!
Some stories, though, are too ridiculous for song – thanks to ridiculous, often drunk, music fans who sometimes take their enthusiasm a little too far. These incidents become “Road Tales.” Robb Angus of the Dungarees has a few. Off the top of his head, not quite literally, he says he took a direct hit from a flying shoe during a show at On the Rocks last year. It was during their bluegrass rendition of Raise a Little Hell:
“It was Moonshine Monday,” Angus explains. This wasn’t the first incident of weird audience interactions for the guitarist. One time he had his leg duct taped to the mic stand while he was playing, no word on why an audience member would bring a roll of duct tape to a gig. And, he adds, “A few months ago in Banff I was accosted in the street by a drunk girl who was mad because I didn’t walk over to their table in the bar and personally sing her friend Happy Birthday between sets.”
Stories like this, and others of varying degrees of insanity, are commonplace for the traveling band. Dealing with those who are “moved” by your music is not a new thing. Each individual human brain reacts to stimuli in its own unique way. Most normal people see a band they like and cheer and applaud. Others take it a bit further – as was the case for the band Brother Octopus. Last year, during a show at the Slumland Theatre in Red Deer, a newfound fan thought he had a pretty good idea what one of their songs was about – having sex. He was excited to share the news with the band.
“Since we have never intentionally wrote a song about sex, I was trying to figure out what song this young man was referring to,” says frontman Nathan Sutton. “I replied with ‘Honey‘? He said ‘No, it was like, ‘come closer let me feel your skin’.” It then clicked for Sutton. He realized it was the song September that the gent was talking about. “He soon after bought our album and left me with the discovery of what our song was unintentionally written about, it made sense,” Sutton laughs. “I’m sure he used the album for love-making.”
The many-banded Kevin Maimann shares a story of why he wears a codpiece on stage. The genital protection was adopted after a memorable show at the Old Mead Hall with his band Ways to Kill. “I was in the middle of ripping a solo and putting my leg up on the monitor to show off like a jackass, when someone grabbed my junk,” he says. “It was a solid handful, it was very obviously intentional. I couldn’t see who it was, and none of my friends who were there owned up to it. The identity of the junk-grabber has remained forever a mystery.”
Weirdness? Shenanigans? Tomfoolery? Mike Dunn of the Moanin’ After has known all three. “There was this guy who loved us during a Calgary gig last year, he was fully Stampede drunk, but seemed nice,” the singer says. “He said to us, ‘You guys played Waylon, that’s awesome, can I buy your album?'”
A normal interaction by any accord. Most fan encounters are pleasant. But, drunkenness hastened the elevation of the situation.
“About 10 minutes later, he comes back as we’re about to go on and says, ‘Hey man, can I play your guitar? I want to play Margaritaville.’ For the record, Margaritaville is what plays in the elevator to Hell. I told him we had a show to play, and that I appreciated his enthusiasm for our music. While struggling to free the CD from his pocket, with all the coordination of a dozen $8 tall boys, he yells, ‘Well, you guys are just a bunch of cocksuckers! Take your goddamn CD back, and go fuck yourselves!’ He whipped the CD toward our merch case, it was a pretty good throw for the state he was in. It landed in there pretty softly. I still had the $10 he’d given me. I sold the same one to nice example of Stampede Barbie for $20 after the next set.”
Jenie Thai recently had a more positive interaction while playing a residency at the Cameron House in Toronto. After chatting up a barista (who happened to be from Alberta), the lad (whose name is Jem) gave her a free scone and promised he’d come to one of her shows – and then actually did, showing up with friends, who all bought albums, and then promising to bring more friends to buy more albums next time. This is how a fanbase is built.
While playing an Edmonton cover set during the Vancouver Olympics at some North-end bar, Lindsey Walker had a curious encounter with crazy.
“We were about to sing our last song of the set, it was Synchronicity by The Police, when a slightly inebriated woman started talking to me while I was onstage, and then jumped up beside me. She hugged me and told me how much she loved me, then she stole the mic and told everyone they were a-holes for supporting the Olympics but not doing anything about the earthquakes that were happening at the same time in Chile. She wouldn’t stop.”
The band’s manager eventually jumped on stage and whisked the woman away
“Without missing a beat, we jumped into the song as if nothing happened,” Walker adds. “I pretended I didn’t just pee myself from fear and carried on.”