*This article was written by our friend Schuylar Croom, frontman for North Carolina rock band He Is Legend. Schuylar has the ability to make any topic more interesting than it initially seems.
In my line of work you meet a lot of interesting people. Some more interesting than others. It seems that these days the average music fan feels that it is necessary to “out weird” the musicians in hopes that they will be remembered by the people they hold so dearly. Now I understand how these words may make me seem like a bigger snob than Sean Penn accidentally walking into Wal-Mart . But I assure you that I do my best to be kind to all of the people who hold me in high regard. However, I can’t quite understand what I have done yet to be put on that pedestal… other than growing a pretty respectable beard, in which case, upon shaving it off, received much criticism from the fans under the age of 20. I am very grateful to be loved for my exquisite facial hair, but after a certain point you start to feel less like a person and more like a character. For that I wish I would have made a different decision.
With the phenomenon of Myspace and Facebook paired with cell phone technology, the camera phone is now a must have for concert goers of today. At the site of their favorite rock and roller these kids whip their cameras out like the Guns of the Navero. I find it nerve racking to pose for a pixelated camera photo so I try my best to make a different face for each picture… offering the kids a truly unique photo that is all their own. Depending on the genre of music that the show consists of, some kids may be sweatier than others. In this case, rather than putting my arm around the shoulder of the sweaty teenager to show that we have developed a common bond, I would suggest that we all hold up the “Heavy Metal Horns” or the ever popular Peace Sign.
Often times some of the older males at the show will not want you to touch them at all. This comes from the stigma of “being hard” or proving your manliness in the photograph. This can be judged by their greeting, which usually consists of the token 4 part handshake that ends with the fingers snapped off of each other. Also, you will notice these males by the way they dress… usually a black T-shirt of an unknown band paired with basketball shorts and unusually well groomed hair which is often accentuated with a sweat band of any color. These photos are usually taken quickly and are painless. But the facial expression is key for both parties. You must produce the feeling of friendship but also keep a stern look into the camera. “Heavy Metal Horns” are also used in these photos, Peace signs are usually prohibited.
When being photographed with a female, you must be prepared to take the photo many times from numerous angles. The plus side to taking photographs with the girls is that they usually have a proper camera. However, the flashes will blind you if you are not careful. Often times females will want to take their picture with you and no less than five of their friends. This will be very time consuming because each friend has to have a different variation of the photo on their own camera as well as a shot with just you and the camera owner.
The group shots are simple. You must show no favoritism to any single girl in the group. Often times this would be my cue to be lighting a cigarette when the picture is snapped… or sneaking a sip of my beer to offer a candid feel to the shot. When the photo is of you and a single female you must devote all of your attention to her. You can judge by the persons attire as to how close to stand, or where to put your hand. Be sure to keep one eye on the boys that are close by as they may be said girls boyfriend. Usually they are standing close to you, or even the picture taker… arms crossed, concerned half smile. Give him a wink to ease his mind. This could actually gain you another fan.
How can you talk about being at a rock show without speaking about drugs and alcohol. The people under the influence of these things can hardly open their cell phones, much less find them the moment they spot you. They have waited all month to come see their favorite band and will stop at nothing to meet them. This usually is when they come up to you asking numerous question about the band they came to see. “Oh man how is it hanging out with Blank. I bet he blanks all the blank.” This is the time that I like to make up stories about the person in question. “Oh yeah, you should really try his pineapple upside down cup-cakes. They are out of this world!”
If it’s the case that the user is a fan of your band you must take time to stand and listen to what they have to say, no matter how hard it is to understand. If you seem irritated or in a hurry you may offend them and offended music fans tend to start an uproar. It may not be instantaneous, but remember that little thing called the internet. Message boards are no new thing, and they can crank up faster than Paris Hilton in an In-N-Out bathroom. One false move and you will be labeled an A-hole by every Tom, DIck and Harry on the inter-web.
FInally there are the “Self Proclaimed Weirdo’s”. These fans will stop at nothing to be remembered… using any number of tactics to throw you off guard. “Can I lick your face?” or “Will you sign my nipples?” are just a few that i have heard in the past. Also, when I had a large beard the comments were overwhelming. “Can I have your beard when you shave?”, “Can I put your beard in my mouth”, or my favorite “Can I live inside of your beard?” Responses may vary depending on your case. Usually giving a realistic answer is the best way to get them to act normal. “No you may not live in my beard because I don’t think that it is physically possible.” or “No, you can’t lick my face, I am a human being. I don’t let strangers lick my body.”
Sometimes you can just stare off into space and create the illusion that you are extremely out of your mind on drugs. Spouting off comments about “large frogs crawling out of your hair”… like Wakem Pheni did… or as I have done, mention the energy balls that are floating around your weirdo fan. This tends to leave them feeling as though they have lost the weirdness battle because you are on a special planet all your own.
Don’t get me wrong. I actually enjoy meeting fans, but sometimes you just got to get it out there. Talk about the things that make you feel uncomfortable and find a way to have it make you stronger. So the next time you find yourself bombarded with camera phones and sweaty kids, embrace it, enjoy it, and have a little fun with it. Who knows, you could actually find an easier way to pass the time at a show.
*this article was featured on September 26, 2007