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Concert Foul No. 32: Shouting Out Requests

"Meltdown! Meltdown!"

He wouldn't stop shouting it. No, not Brent Best or anyone in Slobberbone. Some dude in the crowd during a recent gig.

It was constant. Consistent, too. Always "Meltdown! Meltdown!," never just "Meltdown!"

This was a guy that I had already moved away from once, yet somehow found myself all too close to again, just a few songs after I had attempted to ditch his not-so-special brand of cheering along. 

OK, so a guy just wanted to hear a song he liked. Big deal. It's rock 'n' roll. Get over it.

Sorry, but I can't. I effing hate it when people shout that crap. They just need to let the band do what they're going to do.

There's a fine, but not hard-to-define line between happily rocking out with your Slobberbone out and just being an oblivious oaf that pisses off the attendees around him or her.

The worst offense of this nature? When someone shouts out for a band's trademark tune -- the song that everyone in the room knows will be played before the night's over.

For instance, if you're at an Old 97's show, there's no need to shriek out, "Play Timebomb!" If you find yourself at a Toadies concert, you really don't have to squeal out for "Possum Kingdom." Promise. It'll be fine. Just let it happen. Because it will.

Besides, there's a thing called a set list. It's that thing that the band members almost always have and typically look down at  between songs. A dirty little secret: Most likely, the band has already determined the songs they're going to play on a given night before they even take the stage.

I know it can be trying. Sometimes, a fan's favorite song might not be the signature tune of a band's catalog and, therefore, it might not be in the performing act's regular rotation. There's probably a reason for that. It can be a bummer, I know. This past summer, the Hold Steady didn't play "Your Little Hoodrat Friend" when I saw them. And, to you tell the truth, I was kind of pissed about it. I love that song, and it's easily one of the most listened-to songs out of the thousands of tunes I have on my hard drive. Even though people shouted it from the floor -- and probably bugged the hell out of those around them in the process -- Craig Finn and crew just weren't going to bust that one out for whatever reason, request-shouting be damned.

There's no formula to how a set-list is concocted. Maybe the band hates your favorite song now. Perhaps there's some sort of emotional attachment to the tune that was once tolerable to the performer, but that can no longer be handled emotionally. Maybe they just don't want to play it. Maybe they just want to be contrarian dicks about it. Who knows? 

Point is, it's on them. Not you. And there's no need to burden your favorite band with your own emotional baggage. So stop making an idiot of yourself while practically sobbing in the middle of hundreds, maybe even thousands, of people.

Here's the thing: I'm not suggesting everyone turn a venue like the Granada Theater or the Palladium Ballroom into a peaceful, stagnant library. I often like to cheer, air-punch dance and sing along to the point of hoarseness, actually.

Scream all you want. Just don't scream a request. Or, if you really can't help yourself, scream a funny one. The "Freebird!" bit is a tired one, but still solid i the right situations. Another example: In 1997 or 1998, when Better Than Ezra played at Trees, a request-shouter took it upon himself to ask not for "Desperately Wanting" or "Good," but for the cheesy and ubiquitous-at-the-time Verve Pipe smash "The Freshman." The entire crowd roared with laughter and even the band expressed their disappointment that they hadn't worked out a live version of the song for the off-chance someone might request it.

It was awesome.

But, chances are, you're not that clever. So just shut your pie-hole and let the people around you enjoy the show they came to see also.


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