Thursday, February 18, 2016

Warning for Concert Goers: Don't Poke Papa Bear

First, no I am not turning this blog into a Dad blog. My wife and I are planning a parenting blog, but we are still trying to solidify the voice and title. We had a GREAT idea, and we knew it was great because someone already took it, so… In the meantime, being a step-dad is my current station in life, so it is bound to find its way into my musings. Luckily, this time, it is also about music.

Amanda and I are very big on experiential gifts, so this year one of the family gifts was to see Jason Isbell at the Peabody. Because I ain’t cheap, I got us good seats, like 10 rows back. The seats were perfect, patrons around us seemed chill, and we were ready for a great night of listening to our favorite as a family.

The evening kicked off with a rumpus set from Shovels and Rope. Always great to see a group really feeling it, and they were so gracious. I will say they were a bit loud for my taste, and not loud in the “get off my lawn” kind of way, loud in the we are a two piece so we are going try to fill the void with volume. This happens. Hell, I started running split amps when Corey Woodruff  and I were playing out as a duo. I’m not mad at them. I know why it happens. I am just saying the songs were strong enough to stand on their own without being propped up by volume causing uncontrolled feedback.

After a lengthy change over, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit took the stage, and we lit up. For the first time in the six times I have seen him, his wife, Amanda Shires, was on stage with him. There is something so incredibly moving about seeing a husband and wife perform together, when the looks of love are not a mere fa├žade. Plus with a budding 8-year-old fiddle player in the house, we were thrilled for her to be able to witness greatness. As they always do, Isbell and the band destroyed the stage. They were tight as a hipster’s jorts. Their joy and enthusiasm for the music could be felt everywhere in the room. They brought smiles and tears, bringing the house down with “Cover Me Up” which, by all accounts, was everything. It was shaping up to be a perfect night, and then there was the encore.

As is common, folks tend to inch their way forward during the pause between the last song of the main set and the encore. Some people bail, hoping to avoid traffic, while others clamber to get closer. The majority around me were sitting still, so I didn’t think much of it, but behind us was a row of folding chairs reserved for folks attending the concert with someone in a wheel chair. The row was vacant for the entire show, until the encore. That’s when things took a turn for the worse.

Behind us stood a very intoxicated Mid-Life Crisis Barbie, well into her 40’s and dressed for clubbing, and her friend I am Too Old for American Idol but I Think I Can Sing Barbie. Now, I am not mad at AI Barbie. You do you. If you are feeling it, sing your ass off. As a performer, we LOVE it. It helps that you were almost in tune, too. Crisis Barbie, on the other hand, not a fan. As the band returned to the stage, they eased into “Flagship.” As you will see below, this is not a rocker; this is a subtle ballad that begs to be listened to. Crisis Barbie didn’t see it that way. She was very content to loudly hackle and talk with AI Barbie. I kept my cool. Rolling my eyes and breathing, and then she dropped her drink, almost dropping it on my step-son. I gave a quick cutting glare, but still maintained. Then as AI pointed out what she had done, I hear Crisis say, “Fuck that kid.” I was in her face in a nanosecond. I am not entirely sure what all I said, but I know there was a “Shut the Fuck Up” and not like the way Elaine would have said it to Jerry if Seinfeld was on Showtime; more like Stone Cold would have said it to Vince McMahon. She gave me a couple “Fuck Yous,” but the only thing I heard from her the rest of the night was the rattle of her ice cubes against the plastic up, as she tried not to waste the remaining drops of vodka.

Now, I will be the first to admit I did not handle this situation well. I definitely needed to be more tactful. I envision she is telling stories about the asshole at the concert as I write this. Clearly she isn’t going to own that she was the asshole. Drunk people rarely do. And I know I made an impact because, at some point, her fella came to her side. Like many, I’ve been there before, where the girl I was with was running her mouth, justified or not, and I had to step in to end the conflict. When the show ended and the lights came up, he made eye contact and offered a “good show” fist-bump. This is similar to a bear showing a submissive posture or yielding space. While his mouth said, “Good show, right?” his eyes said, “Look Bro, I see you. I get that your arm is as big as my leg, and you are sober while my reaction time clearly is impaired. Let’s chalk this up to what it is: she’s drunk, and I don’t want to fight you.” I nodded and helped little man get his coat on.

While I regret the manner in which I approached the situation, I do not regret responding and, frankly, I am TIRED of people not doing anything; of people enabling this kind of behavior or biting their tongues because, “(s)he’s drunk.” In an effort to avoid similar situations in the future, I will offer a few tips. I am pretty sure I have written something like this in the past, but it needs to be repeated.

  • If your intention is to talk through a show, please stay home. People have paid good money to HEAR the performer. And, as a performer, talking is seriously disrespectful. What I have written has meaning, and I am offering it to you, so please listen. If you are more interested in hearing the sound of your voice, belly up to a bar somewhere without live music and talk until you are hoarse.
  • If you are going to the show because it presents a good chance for you to become intoxicated, please stay home. Think about the cost savings. That $80 worth of rail drinks would cost you about $25 at home with the good shit, plus you don’t have to worry about paying for Uber, or worse, driving drunk. You can be as obnoxious as you want and no fucks will be given. Well your friends may, but they already love you, so they’ll likely forgive you.
  • If you try to get slick at a show and move into some vacant seats with a better vantage point, realize you can easily be removed, so be on your best behavior.
  • Lastly, if you see a bear and his cub, don’t poke the bear.


  1. Dang good thing Gramma Bear wasn't there, that's all I got to say!

    1. I know that's right. I still have some pretty vivid images from when your friend put your cubs in jeopardy.