Talking at Gigs

This is a great town for music.  It’s full of top-class musicians who all know each other and who routinely sit in on each other’s gigs, unlike other places where there’s so much jealousy and jostling for position.  But one thing has always irritated me beyond reason: the talking.

Why do people go to a quiet little show and insist on blabbing away to each other when they could just as easily go somewhere else?  They’re obviously not interested in the music, so why are they present?

live music_2

This evening I went to a little intimate gig and the place was pretty full, which is a plus.  But why are all these people talking constantly?  Could they not show some respect and shut up, or else go to a bar where there isn’t any music?

I can’t understand it.  Is it because there’s just so much free and great music in this town that people are used to it and take it for granted?

Maybe not.  A few years back, I went to another gig where people had to pay admission.  I think it was David Kitt.

No.  I’m certain it was David Kitt.  As the clamour of chat grew louder and louder, eventually in frustration he put down his guitar and said Shut the fuck up!

Unfortunately, the two women in front of me were so engrossed in their conversation that they didn’t hear him so I leaned in and said Shut the fuck up.

They were embarrassed and apologised.  Right?

Wrong.  One of them said You’re too old to be here.  You should be at home listening to Elton John.  And they both laughed until my beloved daughter reached through the crowd, stuck her finger in the silly bitch’s chest and  said Shut the fuck up like you were told.

There is no consideration any more.  It’s all about entertaining the Big Me, at any cost and nobody else matters.

What is this?  Why have we lost respect for other people and why do we feel entitled to be entertained and diverted without giving any respect back?

This is one of the reasons I avoid certain gigs in this town.  People treat the musicians as wallpaper and that really annoys me.





46 thoughts on “Talking at Gigs

  1. It’s Spotify’s fault – and the backingtrax-performers. Some people seem to think that a live gig is just background to their chats, other people don’t think musicians are for real.
    This is why we need really large PA systems to blast the knickers off them.

  2. I couldn’t agree more Bock, I was in Nancy’s a while back listening to the trad session, or at least trying to listen, two mature type were not only talking, but guffawing in the loudest ignorant manner, and despite being given dagger looks and the odd request to quieten down, they continued to have their horse laugh, much to the annoyance of everyone there. We were tempted but desisted from telling ’em to shut the fuck up, don’t ask me why, ‘cos I feel if people had intervened, there would have been an altercation.

  3. There used to be a session in Bradshaws in Castleconnell, now alas closed, but I think the session has moved to Herberts, and the respect shown to the musicians was to be admired, and yet there was great craic there. A model for what respect for musicians should be.

  4. Jane and the lads were brilliant last night, pity we lost her to London but i have a feeling we will be hearing more of her soon

  5. Could not agree more with your point, that trend seems to have increased in the last years, got a couple of gigs in Dolans ruined by some chatty people. Unfortunately this does not seemed to be limited to Limerick, was at a Dubliners gig in Dublin last weekend, and similar thing happen, including a guy shouting comment about the gig in his phone during John Sheahan solo :(

  6. Unfortunately the line between music and entertainment has blurred and will continue to disappear even more so. A lot of these people only go to gigs because it’s a scene to be seen in.

  7. there should be no bluriness in Bourkes, if your not there for the music stay in the front bar

  8. Look, people in this town still request that musicians “play something we all know”. The reason music is shit is because the general public are morons. It may be a horrible thing to say but it’s true. They sate their musical need with X-Factor and the like and, when it comes to attending a gig with actual musicians, they prefer to talk about X-Factor or something equally vacuous when, if they listened they might even be inspired. Not easy to inspire a moron but not impossible. I watched a bit of Jane’s gig last night and it was excellent.

  9. And when they are not talking, they are going to the bar or going to the jacks, or both, and you have to stand up to let them out and stand up to let them in again (Leinster rugby is as bad, I don’t know why some of them are there at all)

    My first criterion for buying tickets for a gig is being able to stand so as to get away from the talkers/drinkers/incontinent, otherwise the evening ends up being miserable.

  10. @backtowork I’m talking in a general sense but as a long time bourke’s patron I could not agree more. I remember a jazz gig getting abused from a height one night because they wouldn’t play Christy Moore or the Kings of Leon. If you want that shite, fuck off to Smyths!

  11. Paulerie, have the same issues with that, hate smyths for their lack of imagination, have been waiting to see a young lad play guitar for a year as all i hear is that he is unbelievably talented but unfortunately his band contracted to Smyths

    Think he is allowed play with other bands though and hopefully he will do more of that in the future

  12. First and foremost – music is entertainment, ok?
    Music is not some sacred cow that needs adoration.
    Sometimes, so called serious music is nothing more then glorified shite.
    Can I offer a suggestion? Go to a gig with an open heart not preconceived notions. Sometimes you will find yourself really enjoying a form of music that you never envisaged you would. Other times you will find yourself really disliking songs written in a particular style that normally appeals to you.
    Respect for the music provider is important though, if it does not appeal to you…leave and go somewhere else.
    Most times the lack of sensitivity towards the musician providing the music is not necessarily due to bad manners. Sometimes it can be that the venue is a pub that does not have the best layout to facilitate a live performance. Also I think a lot of perceived ignorance that we sometimes come across when people in the audience just wont shut up is because there are a lot of people out there who grew up in the Dance music environment of the 90’s and early 00’s who just
    don’t have a notion on how to behave at a live performance. If your sitting next to them, a few gentle vibes to keep quite while the performance is going on usually works. Also the performer should be skilled enough to use the audience who want to listen
    to his/her music to convince the unwashed to behave during the performance. If gentle persuasion does not work, fuck him or her out the nearest window.
    Above all though music is about fellowship and entertainment. At least that’s what I think our ancestor who invented the first drum though he was providing.

  13. There are some acts so loud you could set off a foghorn and nobody would care, but there are others where the chatter overwhelms the music. People have to use their judgement, but my complaint is about those who never give it a second’s thought. As Marc Almond put it: entertain me, I’m as blank as can be.

  14. Yep, a pet dislike of mine too. Why are they there at all? Paul hit the nail on the head with the “scene to be seen in” I cannot think of any other reason why a group of people would stand in front of an performing artiste or group and feel the need to be heard so much that they have to shout, laugh, guffaw etc over the music. Look around and try and take note that everyone else is trying to listen to the music not your Conversation you ignorant gits. If you want to chat Its easy enough, instead of gathering in front of the stage just move to another area in the bar where you won’t have to compete with the live music. Easypeasy. Bourkes is hardest hit by that because of its great small intimate stage area. I am talking about a Performance mainly here, not a Gig, there is a difference.

  15. Yes music is entertainment but it is also an artform.Most importantly it is a vehicle of communication. If that communication is interrupted you lost the point of it completely. You would not roar your head off at a play for the night,or in the cinema would you? Afford artists and the people who do want to listen the respect they deserve or leave and go to a disco bar to talk about the x factor or whatever other irrelevant shite might take up your brain space. This is not being precious it is simply asking for a modicum of respect.

  16. Nothing changes it seems. Even if it’s an entire ocean away it sounds much the same as it is here in the States. Way back in my own ancient history I was a sound engineer (damn good one as a matter of fact if you’ll forgive the braggin’) and occasionally supplied background vocals and such, both studio and live. I had my own smallish mobile sound production business plus I was the sound engineer for band called Cabin Fever for a number of years.

    Since I worked more than one side of the spectrum, studio work, doing gigs, putting bands into bars and going to bars to listen to potential bands, I found that if you factor out the just-plain-bad bands it nearly always came down to the pub/bar/tavern and it’s “regular” type crowd. Some places attract folks who just want to listen to music, others to dance and still other places to just socialize. Sometimes certain pubs morph from one type to another especially if the town the pub is located in has evolved if you know what I mean.

    Anyway, pubs that cater to the socializer should never put in a band unless it’s specifically for background music. (Yeah, played at those places too…hey, it was easy cash in the pocket and you could have a bit of fun while you were at it as no one was actually listening to what you were playing).

    Bottom line for me and my production business (and the band) was to avoid these “yap taverns” as much as we could which usually meant spending an evening checking the place out before we booked it. Most of the time it worked. Sometimes there were some rather awkward, frustrating experiences.

    Hmmm, I seem to have over rambled again.

  17. Kirk, this happens everywhere, not just in regular drinking bars. People even do it after paying good money to get in, and they can be much worse because they think paying the entrance charge entitles them to ruin the show for everyone else.

  18. Pauleire are you addressing your comments and questions directly to my post?

    You would not roar your head off at a play for the night,or in the cinema would you?
    Afford artists and the people who do want to listen the respect they deserve or leave and go to a disco bar to talk about the x factor or whatever other irrelevant shite might take up your brain space.

    If you are, I will respond accordingly.
    Also I personally dont know any musicians/songwriters who refer to themselves as artists, unless of course their looking for a good kick up the hole.
    All I suggested was that most chatters at a gig can be brought to order. For those who just dont care, fuck em out the nearest window if the diplomacy does not work.

  19. Talking at gigs?where to start.Although it was not a gig as such it was Acker Bilk at the height of his fame(Stranger on the Shore) playing at a well known North Mayo “ballroom”,and people just continued dancing as if it were just another band.On another occasion Millie who was a big star at the time (My Boy Lollipop) was completely ignored,and she was exotic (she was black a novelty in North Mayo) at the time.Nowadays I just glower at people who talk at gigs and hope that they don’t hit me,(I’m small and old) Why bother going to a gig if all you want to do is talk?

  20. @Magwa, sorry to disappoint. It was not directed at you in particular. However, if you would like it to be. I know plenty of musicians/songwriters who must be looking “for a kick up the hole” because “THEY ARE”artists who put countless hours into perfecting their art, and more than 5 minutes into a general grasp of grammar.

  21. @Magwa At the risk of straying from the point of the article briefly….How are songwriters not artists??? I don t get you on that one.

  22. If the music was good enough people wouldn’t talk. The artist should gain the respect of the audience.

  23. @sh1tbox would that you were right shitbox, but in reality that s not how it works which is the point of the article. I was at Leonard Cohen in killmainham last year and the chattering going on around me during his performance was genuinely anger inducing [and Im a reasonable man who views most situations from a rational rather than an emotional angle] however during the first verse of ‘Tower Of Song’ which happens to be one of my particular favourites …I stood up very quickly and said [loud enough for most in my vicinity to hear ] ‘will those who are chatting away shut the fuck up or leave…please…thank you’…My partner was horrified but calmed down when she heard the quiet murmur of ‘hear hear’ ‘exactly’ ‘fair play’ etc…and do you know what it worked…well for about a song and a half. Before 2 women behind resumed a chat albeit in a softer whisper about the perils of school runs when its raining.

  24. Thanks Pauleire for your wise and worthless comments.
    Maybe you should read the post and reflect on the content, before going off on one of your rants.
    Tommy where in my post did I say songwriters were not artists?
    I said I personally dont know any musicians/songwriters (this bit for eire) WHO REFER TO THEMSELVES as artists.

  25. @Magwa…Yeah I doubt they’d say it to you considering you re liable to give them a kick up the hole. But all songwriters who take the craft seriously consider themselves artists..and do you know why…..because they actually are artists .. and yes even the ones you know. If you lightened up on your cynicism people mightn t have to walk on egg shells round you and you d be more likely to hear the truth when you are speaking to them.

  26. Different genres of music demand a completely silent audience for it to work AT ALL. How does this not register with some on here? All saw doctor fans or something? Would you roar your head off in a library? you shouldn’t, but maybe you’ve never been to one.

  27. Thanks for the advise Dr Phil…. I mean Tommy. I will take your advise very seriously going forward, Jeez I feel like a new man already. Have you read comment 14? Love to hear your analysis. You seem to be stuck on the hole kicking comment. So I will withdraw the kicking of holes comment. It was metaphorical in nature in the first place, but I’m sure you knew that.

    Your right of course Paul some genres of music require a quite environment, completely silent is a bit extreme. I am sure even the musician would find this uncomfortable. Unfortunately Bourke’s like many of the bars musicians/songwriters work in is not a music venue It is first and foremost a public bar. That is why I offered my tuppence worth on how a musician might bring the chatter box’s to order during a gig – ref comment 14. Wasn’t expecting this type of reaction to the comment though.
    I stand over my comment that in my experience most musicians/songwriters are very uncomfortable with the tag artist.

  28. I suppose the artist tag is up to the listening public to assign, I agree ,Iwouldn’t know many Limerick musos who would be comfortable with it. If they are they are generally of the 3 chord windswept and interesting wannabe hipster variety .Bourke’s is caught I suppose in that it is trying to do two things at once and keep everyone happy. They succeed most of the time.However, if it’s possible for 26000 people to remain silent while ROG or anyone else kicks the leather off a ball in Ballynanty, it’s possible for 50 people to do it in Bourke’s while someone performs. there’s the front bar for chatting.

  29. I don’t know why people are so fixated on one particular premises when this sort of thing happens everywhere. In Ronnie Scott’s they felt the need to place printed reminders on every table.

  30. Presume that is because it is relevant to the main post? I have seen this happen in venues all over the country, even in the Marquee in galway where everybody had paid good money in to see James Vincent Mcmorrow. Ask Parkenstein. Waste of a drive up from Limerick when all we could hear was people getting speaking louder and louder as the evening went on. I asked two people in front of me to quieten down, their reaction was a mixture between puzzlement and anger, when the song finished the fatter of the two females roared at the top of her lungs straight into my ears. If she was a bloke!
    I have attended the North sea Jazz festival in Rotterdam for the last number of years. While not just providing jazz acts there is a level of respect for the performers,across 14 stages, that I have never witnessed in Ireland, at a festival or in venues and probably never will.

  31. Yes quite a few piss-artists among the musical fraternity, I’d imagine. Holland is a great country to gig in by all accounts.
    The respect the Dutch audiences hold for the performers is second to none. There used to be a club in Amsterdam called the Folk Fairport, loved that place.

  32. Magwa, how is Bourkes not a music venue when thereis live music there 6 nights a week on a regular basis, also the bar is split in two so why can people not go up the back when a musiscian is in need of a quieter crowd

    This is about manners at all gigs

  33. I agree its not about Bourke’s. Its about respect for musicians performing live.
    At the risk of repeating myself. Sometimes a musician will find him/herself in a venue, especially a pub where some people are a bit loud and in a lot of cases can be drunk on top of it. That’s the nature of the beast. Usually the performers experience will come into play here and they will try a few well known tricks to get the person/persons to pipe down. This normally works. They either leave, or they get into the gig. If this does not happen and they continue to cause problems for the other customers who want to enjoy the performance, then its up to the proprietor to step in. If he is serious about running his bar/hotel whatever, as a music venue then he will have his staff trained on how to deal with this type of situation and add their weight if required.
    Unfortunately most pub venues in Ireland in particular have live music just to bring in the punters and really don’t give a shit how they behave. Its all about bums on seats.

  34. Comment 14 is wonderful Magwa. I just took issue with you saying songwriters weren t artists when clearly they are but you withdrew that so everythings rosey. Glad you took my advice and are now feeling like a new man. Just send 50bucks to Dr Phil America. You don t even need a stamp. :)

  35. I was at a gig with some friends chatting intermittently. I didn’t think we were loud, the music seemed to drown everything else out. But during the last song, this tiny little woman lost her shit. Telling us to shut the fuck up. Poor thing would have been sitting there stewing the whole time, then finally blew her top. If she’d said something earlier we would have been apologetic and shut up, but because we were stunned and offended we snapped back. And then shut up. My friends and I don’t usually go to gigs. Usually when there is live music its background stuff at a bar or club. Bottom line. We didnt know it was taboo. To someone who’s not really into music it seems strange to stare at the person on stage without any socialising. For us thats why we watch it in a public space. Obviously at an intimate little gig its more apparent that chatter is disruptive. But yeah… If there was a message like at the movies, or if we had been informed by someone in the crowd we never would have talked and ruined that angry little womans night. Either way, wont be doing it again.

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