Audio: Michael Gira tells chatty audience members to get off his lawn

michael-gira-denver-show.jpg
Jim Narcy
Michael Gira on Saturday night at the Oriental Theater
Michael Gira's show on Saturday night at the Oriental Theater with Wovenhand included a few chatterboxes with whom the 58-year-old Swans mastermind just couldn't abide. Page down to hear Gira tell the more vocal members of the crowd to "Go read Pitchfork," after demanding that they kindly "Shut the motherfucking fuck up!" Yesterday a commenter asserted that Denver has some of the worst concert etiquette of anywhere he'd been. What do you think? Do you agree?

See Also:

- Review: Wovenhand and Michael Gira at the Oriental Theater, 3/24/12

- Less talk, more rock: Does talking during shows bug you, or is it just an expected part of the deal?

- So what's with all the talk at shows?

- Talking during shows: the musicians' perspective - John Common

- Talking during shows: the musicians' perspective - Eric Shiveley

- Talking during shows: the musicians' perspective - Gene Davis

- Talking during shows: the musicians' perspective - Kurt Ottaway



Follow Backbeat on Twitter: @westword_music

Location Info

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Oriental Theater

4335 W. 44th Ave., Denver, CO

Category: Music


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39 comments
nygrump
nygrump

Williamsburg is the worst place for talking, I've pretty much stopped going to gigs  - there was one show where some idiot was making noises on his phone so he could "play with the band". 

Jim Bb
Jim Bb

John Cage was part of a short B/W documentary called "Sound".  He, too, posed the question why audience members came to a musical event in order to open their mouths.  Charles Mingus did a routine before recording sessions in which he would request that the cash register not ring up, no tinkling of glasses, please, etc., as if it was in a club, AND the people abided by the musician's wish for a rare change....a truly great satirical moment.  Insecurity, the knowledge that they have accomplished NADA with their lives, embarrassment--these are the causes of yakky people in public venues.....nitwits all.  They deserved worse than they got; and, I left Colorodor in 1970 to escape the pseudo-intellectual hicks so prevalent in that part of the country. They do NOT know how to behave, feeling much more at home at a Ro-day-OH!

Johnny Q
Johnny Q

Gira's a gentleman, a pleasure to meet. That did seem a pretty chatty audience. If the audience is so loud that he can't play, then they're probably too loud for me to enjoy listening to him play too, and I paid damn good money to watch him perform. 

Sean A.M.
Sean A.M.

A few years ago Dave Herrera proposed (in "So what's with all the talk during shows?" two possibilites for talking at shows:

1) It's a social experience, and people aren't intentionally being disrespectful2) Acts are "underwhelming"

Both of these "reasons" beg questions; what makes a musical performance at a local venue an acceptable place for chatting/being social as opposed to a film, lecture, or a classical performance? and: what constitutes "underwhelming," to whom, and for what reasons?

Personally, if I am at a show and want to chat I will take it away from the stage; if I want to chat more than I want to be around the stage, then it's because the band isn't doing it for me, and also because trying to converse while music is blasting in my ear is stupid, taxing, and disrespectful to the artist. Sometimes I'll be chatting (away from the stage) and the music will catch my ear, so I will conclude my conversation and head back to the stage; it can go both ways.

I think the reason "bar" shows seem to be acceptable venues for this kind of interaction because of the physical space; the spaces are generally open, so people postion themselves freely in the room, and spatial freedom gives people a sense of overall social freedom. This is why elementary schools have "circle time," and why students sit at desks ordered in rows; if one is physically confined, one is more inclined to be focused. Theaters, films, classical performances, and lectures all have this kind of physical restriction in-common; "rock" shows at a bar do not usually conform. Last time I was at the Oriental Theater there were very few seating options, and most of it was open-space.

This whole business of people being "underwhelmed" is way too loaded (and pretentious) to address. I said above that I often choose conversation because "the band isn't doing it for me," but let me be the first to tell you: that's my problem, and not a problem with the band. If I don't appreciate a work of art it constitues a failure of perception and/or education on my part; it's not because the art ("lackluster" songwriting, performers, etc.) is objectively "bad," because that's a ridiculous, contentious, and impossible stance to argue.

I definitely think this is a spatial phenomenon, and people are indeed not being intentionally disrespectful. However, this also does not mean that open public spaces necessarily lend themselves to a lack of focus, nor does it mean that people have a viable excuse to not become more self-aware.

If there's a band on-stage and you find yourself wanting to chat: you obviously have priorities over listening to the music, so do yourself, the people around you, and the performers a favor and take it somewhere else; you'll expend less energy and have a better grasp on the conversation when you're not trying to talk over music, you won't anger people trying to listen, and you won't offend the artist. There are often many places in these venues where you can still hear the music in the background if music is more of a passive experience for you.

As a performer myself I also find that increasing the volume is a nice way to say: "Either you listen or you get the fuck out, because you're not hearing anything other than this right now if you're in here." Unfortunately, this doesn't work so well for the singer-songwriter folks.

The Beatles stopped performing live -- and decided to focus solely on recording -- because of audience noise.

Marlenekendrew
Marlenekendrew

I don't blame him at all, the audience were ill mannered idiots, it sounded like a school assembly

shutthefuckup
shutthefuckup

you were lucky you didn't have my neighbour johnny crackinskulls there with a baseball bat.he would make you all quiet and respectful towards performer wich is busting his fucking balls to earn some money to eat.

Toby Neal
Toby Neal

!!!!AMEN!!!!  I'm so glad he did this.  Why the hell are you at a show, only to shoot the shit and gossip with your friends, while performers are on stage?  Go find one of the 17 Starbucks within a three block radius of wherever you are, and talk one another's ears off there.  I...for one (and it would appear MG would agree),  couldn't give the first shit about your new B43 rims for your fixie...or the fact you found the cutest little neon Ray Ban's for your baby pomchi...SHUT THE F UP and let the rest of us watch the show!!!!

UssjGogeta43
UssjGogeta43

musicians need to get off their high horse. they would be nothing with out an audience. right or wrong the singer over reacted. yelling like that makes him look like he is a child still. and since hes not a child makes him look like a heroine junky. so good job cant even hear yourself when your talking into a mic? must be a junky

pissyou
pissyou

 lol you fucking pussies, MG is the man.

Ox_bow
Ox_bow

I'm more than willing to bounce people's heads off of the floor for in any way proscribing the creation of art. Nina Simone would just walk off and leave them to it. Another way to deal with the fact that as a performer you get paid no matter what you do, but no matter what the audience does you always just want to finish your fucking set!

Monsta Ward
Monsta Ward

Fuck them and fuck the people that think MG is in the wrong. Shit got out of hand and the man stepped up and dealt with it. He is a skeleton made of steel.

steve
steve

I'm not crotchety or old, but I also can't stand people talking loudly at concerts.  Gira has every right to be frustrated and call these people out.

Tony in Durham, NC
Tony in Durham, NC

This happens everywhere. Why bother going to a show if you're not there to listen to it?

anonymous
anonymous

I think America just has bad concert etiquette in general.  I remember reading an interview with Mono about their impression of the U.S. after touring.  They just said that everyone was talking the whole time.  It's a shame.  Why pay money to see an artist if you are just gonna chat the whole time?  

Mean Monster Mike
Mean Monster Mike

This man continually sinks to new lows. He clearly has no respect for his fanbase and feels a sense of entitlement (or bitterness, more likely).

At 60, most humans have learned to communicate, and no longer throw tantrums.

Alex
Alex

He's right-people are generally shit. If you don't want to listen to music don't go to live shows.

Dangerousmethod
Dangerousmethod

Gira is probably one of the most pleasant musicians I've ever met. Very gracious and was kind enough to sign a copy of his book when I asked.

Jon
Jon

I find it funny, but at the same time completely agree with the man. It's similar to heckling a comic-why fuck with someone trying to work?

Kidchaos1969
Kidchaos1969

Seeing M.Gira is an intimate experience. People should be quiet. Why are you at the show if you aren't there to listen to music? It drives me crazy. Had the same thing happen when I saw him acoustic in Portland. So many hipsters that want to be seen at the right shows.

Kenneth J Keifer Jr
Kenneth J Keifer Jr

i do agree. and michael just shared it on the band page Facebook. way to go denver

Andy
Andy

I think Gira is a decent guy on stage and this is being taken too seriously.

eCurmudgeon
eCurmudgeon

Right now, I'd just settle for concert venues requiring cellphones to be checked at the door.

Is it too much to ask for a show where one doesn't have to contend with the thicket of iPhone cinematographer wannabes screwing up the view?

dildolover
dildolover

 you fucking backstabbing puritan pig, we'll fucking kill you to let it all be. we'll let dicks take over cause we like being fucked up in the ass eternally.

Sean A.M.
Sean A.M.

Yeah, I guess musicians should really start paying for the privilege of playing on-stage before the amazing phenomenon that is an audience instead of the other way around. How dare someone with talent expect to be respected for that talent at a showcase for that talent?

(Pull your head out of your ass and go stick to your Rockbar dance parties.)

c'mon son
c'mon son

the whole point of a show is to hear the music. not to have your shitty self-absorbed conversations, there's places that serve coffee where you can do that.

you wouldn't talk during theater, a lecture, a magic show, or even during a movie where you're not bothering performers - you're entitled "social butterflies" who love the sound of your own voice too much

Sean A.M.
Sean A.M.

Because people don't go to shows to listen to music; they go to shows so they can say they went to the show, and/or to "be seen" at the show.

While I have had this experience in other cities while on-tour, Denver is definitely one of the worst. I've even had many bands from other cities -- while performing in places other than Denver -- recollect their experience of Denver audiences are indifferent and/or disrespectful.

Caroline
Caroline

 Tony when I first moved to the Triangle I was told the other name of Cat's Cradle was Chat's Cradle.I just don't get it.  Shut up and listen or go to the bathroom or bar if you want to have a conversation.

Guest
Guest

It's not just the US. A Mono show I went to here in Belgrade, Serbia, a couple of years back was just as bad. People chatting and laughing during and between the songs...it was just embarrassing. And the funny thing is, the show was sold out days ahead, which is kinda rare in Belgrade, you'd think only the real fans and enthusiasts went. People are pathetic. 

Aaron
Aaron

To say you were there. Unfortunately.

Monsta Ward
Monsta Ward

And at 16, most people know when to shut the fuck up. These assholes didn't. It's bad enough when it ruins the audience's experience, but when you piss off the performer?! Fuck them and fuck you.

VeeG
VeeG

It didn't sound much of a tantrum, to be honest. His "fuck you's" sounded quite soft-spoken.

And "sense of entitlement" for wanting a respectful (within reason) space to share music .... isn't that, either. 

Daniel Dorfsman
Daniel Dorfsman

I've met gira four times and he was always very VERY nice to me. There was even an occasion I asked on the young god message board if anyone had a live recording of a partiuclar song.  Gira sent me an email saying if I promised not to tell anyone he would send me a recording of a live set free of charge.  I sent him my address and he sent the recording.  Gira is a wonderful guy.   He expects people to be respectful towards musicians and I agree.  I hate when people talk during shows.  No respect for his fanbase?  incorrect.  He's always energetically kind whenever i've met him.

CHJ
CHJ

Have to disagree with the comparison. Heckling is part of the standup comedy culture and profession, where wit reigns supreme. All good comics need an arsenal of retaliations because heckling happens, it's accepted. Yes, you have the mic. But if you can't shut someone down with your words, you don't deserve to be a comic. With the Gira situation, I see fault in both sides. Gira is a man deserving of your attention. But that doesn't necessarily mean he has the right to berate the audience. Either way, I agree the ordeal was worthy of a chuckle. Just hope Denver doesn't get a reputation for being disrespectful.

Vee
Vee

"Right now, I'd just settle for concert venues requiring cellphones to be checked at the door."

Right on.

Chris Owen
Chris Owen

"Gira sent me an email saying if I promised not to tell anyone he would send me a recording of a live set free of charge."

way to repay him.

Toby Neal
Toby Neal

Hell, if he offended someone...let them get to stepping to the door.  Don't let it hit ya.

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