Saturday, June 23, 2012

Be Careful What Ya Ask For

I wanna relay a quick funny gig story to you.

I was doing a concert with The Ugli Stick not too long ago. The show was a nice outdoor festival (Smith Farms Music Festival). It had a big stage with full, top of the line production.

This festival was located in a rather small town (Cullman,AL) but it was a very well staged event. I was blown away by what a great job they had done setting it all up. It was legit.

The promoter , Rick Carter, is a long time friend of mine. Rick is a phenomenal musician but also just a great guy so it was great to work with him.

None of that is relevant to the story but I wanted to set it up.

The Story:

This festival was a 3 day festival. Rick asked us to play on one of the weekend nights (as he was sure we would have a larger crowd that way) but unfortunately we already had gigs booked on those days when he initially contacted us. So we played on the slowest day of the festival.

There were still plenty of people there watching us but being as the festival was set up to accommodate thousands and thousands and we had hundreds, the audience was very spread out. Except right in the front.

In the front there was a line of people sitting in lawn chairs. After performing a few songs I realize that virtually the whole front row was mentally challenged adults.

This made me overly excited. Playing for mentally disabled folks always makes me happy. I've played many shows for mentally disabled folks and they are always fun and fulfilling (so has the rest of The Ugli Stick , collectively and individually. Dale actually worked for years at Camp Smile (which is a camp for disabled people)). Therefore we all know how wonderful it is to perform for a group of folks like that. They absolutely love music, they sing, they clap (whether it be on beat or not), but they WILL be having a great time and make you have a great time along the way.

So we begin cutting and interacting with the front row. They are having a blast and we are having a blast.

At this point Quintin,The Ugli Stick bassist, decides we should rock up the show and add a little excitement by playing a cover song. We sometimes do a mash up of Metallica's "Sad but True" and Stevie Wonder's "Superstitious", and that's the song Quintin wants us to do.

Since we have been having a great time interacting with all the folks there (especially the front row) , Quintin figured this would be a great time to pump them up by setting up the song.

Well there are many ways to pump up an audience before a show or during a show. One of the standard ways is to ask (almost rhetorical) questions like "Is everybody having a good time tonight?" or "How are ya feeling?" or "Does anybody out there like the Beatles?"....these questions are somewhat rhetorical not because the performer doesn't care what the response is but rather It is because there are hundreds or thousands of people answering at once. So all these questions are really just intended to be answered with a loud collective "WOOOOOOO!!" (or silence I guess).

With this standard operating procedure in mind, Quintin grabs his mic and yells "We wanna switch it up for y'all and do a little REMIX!!!" People yell as expected.

At this point Quintin wants to set the song up a little further. Again this is a standard thing that's been done by millions of performers a million times for a million different audiences. But remember , our audience at the moment (at least the front row) aren't a typical audience.

Quintin emphatically asked "HOW MANY PEOPLE OUT THERE LIKE STEVIE WONDER?" fully expecting a loud roar.

Instead his question was instantly and loudly answered with "TWENTY!" from a member of the front row.

We doubled over with laughter and almost couldn't complete the set.

I'm not really sure how that lady came up with such a specific number but the fact that she did slayed us all.

I had never even considered someone would actually answer that question instead of just yelling "WOOOOOO!". But that's the beautiful thing about the mentally disabled. They are excruciatingly honest and gloriously unpredictable.

That lady was simply trying to answer Quintin's question accurately, but she definitely gave us all something to enjoy for years to come.

The Smith's Farm show was a lot of fun. And there were a lot of people there enjoying the music besides those on the front row , but as far as I'm concerned that lady in the front stole the show.

I will never here Stevie Wonder again without thinking about his 20 fans in Cullman Alabama (and that sweet lady that had obviously taken the time previous to us being there to conduct the "Do you like Stevie Wonder?" survey).

No comments:

Post a Comment