This is the story of how an innocuous tweet led to an examination of the modern concert experience. (ed. note-having issues with tweets embedding properly. Will fix ASAP)
So, this past Friday night the wife and I took a last minute, spontaneous roadtrip to see Will Hoge at Billy Bob’s. It had been a minute since I’ve been to a show at Billy Bob’s. We got there early enough to see the house band doing an admirable job tearing through that awful Tyler Farr redneck stalker song. Once they finished though, we still had 45 minutes until Mr. Hoge took to the mainstage. So, we did what anybody would do. Walked around, people watched and enjoyed the scene. We took in a bit of the bullriding, which seemed to be a little more intesne than normal on this evening due to the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo being in town. There were an abundance of tourists and an odd mix of people that had all congregated for, as we’d soon learn, a wide variety of reasons to see Will Hoge.
Many longtime fans had come to take part in a type of celebratory success story after watching Hoge perform for the past decade in dingy dives of Deep Ellum and beyond. Others came because they knew he was the one who’d written “Even If It Breaks Your Heart” which Eli Young Band covered to great acclaim. Yet, a great majority of the more western attendees solely knew Hoge as the voice behind their favorite Chevy commercials through “Strong”. No matter the motivation, seemingly everyone was all there for a genuine reason.
I began to chat up a few cowboys at the bar while we waited on our overpriced beers and one of them asked me “Who’s playing tonight anyway?” I replied “Will Hoge”. The look on the guy’s face led me to believe he was no more familiar with Hoge’s work than I would be with the 2 Chainz discography. About that time, a cowboy on the other side of us said, “Hell, Bobby…you know this guy…he’s the one that sings that ‘Strong’ song on the Silverado commercials”. Upon this revelation, they did shots and slammed their glasses down to the chorus of “Silverado strong!”
This entire interaction led to this tweet from me:
Lotta cowboys here at Billy Bob's real excited about "that Silverado guy playin' tonight."
— Brad Beheler (@BradBeheler) January 18, 2014
It led to a couple funny responses, and as we’d find later a very misguided reaction. By now we were close to showtime. During the show, I tweeted a handful of times. During performances, my phone mostly stays in my pocket. I’d much rather actually enjoy the experience, than document the experience. But, part of being there as a music blogger is to document and share what’s happening. This can always be accomplished via a few tweets. No need to live tweet the whole night, that’s what your upcoming article will cover. My final tally of the Will Hoge concert was 7 tweets among both my personal account and the GW account over the course of 4 hours. Less than two an hour.
@BradBeheler @sethrowney @just_a_Blogger I'm confused as to why you're tweeting and not watching. You probably hate when ppl talk at shows.
— Sonny Guerra (@Bonofide82) January 18, 2014
Apparently, this gentleman viewed my joke and few tweets on the same level of the drunken sorority girl talking obnoxiously loud in front of the lead singer as she takes multiple selfies until she gets the right lighting and angle.
Sorry, but as great a visual as that is, that’s not me. And, it’s not really any true music fan I know. While some of us may go overboard at times when at a show, I see few true music fans becoming distractions. People are all free to enjoy the show however they see fit. As long as you’re not interfering with the artist, other fans and patrons go for it!
After the show, I was stunned to find this guy’s confused vitriol waiting in my mentions and was confused. How had one honest observational joke about some friendly cowboys I’d met at the bar turned into making fun of people or bashing people who tweet at shows? Who knows? But, I did find it incredibly offensive and bewildering.
I came up from the school of Kent Finlay where he would usher unruly, loud or obnoxious people out of Cheatham Street for being a nuisance. Or from dear Miss Joni whose only rules at the Clubhouse Concerts were: Sit Down. Shut Up. Listen.
We should never begrudge anyone getting their good time or tweet on. Knowing the proper time and place is key. Getting loose at a Shinyribs or Josh Weathers show is a different experience than being in a listening room for Sean McConnell. Know the audience and expectations you’re a part of and soak it all in…always.
The funny thing is, I think me and ol’ Sonny Guerra are actually coming from the same place. That of great passion and reverence for music and its live performance. Maybe we can go to a show sometime. Here’s to the passion…real, tweeted, lived and musical.