<< These go to 12.
Over the weekend we had friends come into town and we took them to downtown Nashville to show them what music city is all about.
What is it all about? Oh yeah. Music.
Here’s a game I play in Nashville that entertains me on nights we hit the honkytonks (that's Nashville speak for bars that play live music) and I get sick of hearing the same songs over and over again such as – Chicken Fried and Don’t Stop Believin’. I realize that second song is not in fact country, but rest assured on touristy Broadway, at about 2 am you will hear it ring simultaneously from each bar on the strip. It’s echo resounding loudly against the walls of the Batman building, Titans stadium and beyond as tourists from Denmark and elsewhere howl along singing, “Streetlights, people oh oh ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.”
For those of you not local - THIS is Nashville's famous Batman Building. It actually has nothing to do with Batman. Just acts like him.
But I digress.
Let me tell you about my game. Wait. Let me back up a sec and give you the background on where this game came from. I’m a singer who’s played in bands for years and years. Therefore, I have an intimate knowledge of the pecking order in bands and I know which musicians get the least amount of attention from the crowd. This is very important when you are going to play this game.
Who gets the most attention, in order:
Singer and/or lead guitar
Yes – the bassist and the drummer are the unsung heroes of the band. The rhythm section. Without them the songs would have no backbone. No consistency. No reason for you to tap your foot or clap your hands in time with the music. They are the reason the song exists and the reason you remember it when you’re on your way home.
But fans don’t really cheer on the bass and drums unless there’s a solo. And even then they want that to end so they can get back to the song.
Because I am rotten – I use my knowledge of this fan system to have a little fun when I am front row watching a band.
Here’s Mother Cusser’s Fan Game When Bands Get Boring:
Find the drummer or bassist. Stare intently at him or her. Watch their hands. Act like you’re totally into the fact that they are playing notes on a bass. Look as if you’re an expert in playing that instrument – smile when you think they’ve done something cool, but smile at the instrument…AT FIRST. Do this at least 4 times.
Then it’s time to ratchet it up a bit. Make eye contact. At first the drummer or bassist will think you just looked at them by accident. They aren’t used to fan attention and don’t like to get their hopes up. But they’ll check back again – and when they do – you’re there smiling away, and making a rock and roll face. You will notice how he checks back several times – he can’t believe that he’s finally getting the attention he believes he so richly deserves.
Okay, so now you’ve gotten eye contact and the musician is regularly checking back to see if you’re still looking.
What do you do now? The next time he looks back at you – put your hand up to your ear and make a face that says, “I can’t hear you that well.” He will NOT LIKE THAT. They all want to be heard! Then he will play louder.
You in turn will make your rock face again as a reward.
He will quiet down. You will do that ear thing again. Look confused and mouth to him, “Can’t hear you.” He will get louder and likely will stay loud. This is how the game begins.
The goal of the game? To get one musician playing really loudly so that the rest of band keeps turning up.
Once I was able to get the drummer playing SO loudly that instead of telling him to be quiet the entire band turned up louder because THEY wanted to be heard TOO. The singer was howling as loud as he could – his neck straining, veins popping out everywhere - but to no avail – he simply could not get loud enough to properly sing the high notes in “Livin’ on a prayer.”
This is also what it feels like to the audience. But generally they are too drunk to notice.
BONUS POINTS FOR: stick twirls, goofy faces, unnecessary drum fills, unnecessary bass runs or fills, stick tosses and you get 1000 points if the lead singer looks back at the musician with a confused look on his face since things are simply NOT sounding the way they did at band practice.
Eventually, the game has to end when someone in the band says, “DUDE. WTF. TURN IT DOWN.” When that happens - pat yourself on the back! You're a winner!
The more talented the musician the harder the game is to play. The great ones see my BS from a mile away. They will smile at my insistence that I am unable to hear them, but they don’t bite. But the not so seasoned players? They get LOUD.
Is this a mean game? Maybe. Maybe all I’m doing is seeing which guy is there to support the band and which guy is there for himself. Maybe I’m teaching them a lesson! Maybe this game shows them not to play for the fans – but to play music because they LOVE MUSIC.
This is how I justify it. But… it’s probably also just a little mean.
Have a little fun this weekend – go loud-up a band. But if you win – be sure to bring your ear plugs!