Things got a little awkward for the sold-out crowd at a Ray LaMontagne concert at Frederik Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids, Michigan on Wednesday night.
In the middle of his set, Ray LaMontagne called out some concertgoers for talking during his set, and after dropping several F-bombs in a naturally one-sided argument, stormed off the stage in what some local music journalists have called a “meltdown“. LaMontagne then refused to come back out and finish the concert until the Chatty Cathys left the venue.
The incident caused an understandably uncomfortable feeling to come over the crowd, as some fans cheered the ejection of the subjects of LaMontagne’s verbal attack, and others walked out with them in disgust of the artist’s reaction to the situation.
The fans asked to leave by security were in the front row, no further than 20 feet from the stage, in plain sight for LaMontagne to see them talking throughout his concert at the outdoor, naturally lit ampitheater. LaMontagne asked them during the unsettling silence why they didn’t just go home and listen to a record and talk over that instead of having a conversation in the front row at one of his shows.
In an interesting twist in the story, in an interview with the Grand Rapids Press, the man who was kicked out of the concert said that he and his fiancé were whispering about their upcoming wedding, anticipating LaMontagne’s song “You Are the Best Thing” which they actually chose to be the song for their first dance as a married couple. The couple said that they were only there to enjoy the concert, and feel bad that they disrupted the concert, and upset one of their favorite artists.
After the fans were escorted to the parking lot, LaMontagne and his band came back out and finished their 105 minute set that included favorites off of his new and critically-acclaimed album Supernova and old fan favorites like “Trouble” and “Jolene”. There’s no doubt however, that what most people took away from the night was LaMontagne ripping apart the talkative concertgoers.
This incident brings up a very relevant debate surrounding concert etiquette. While some people support LaMontagne’s decision to call out the fans for talking, some feel that he was far too aggressive, and took it too far by using multiple expletives in a family-friendly venue.
It’s a difficult situation. On one hand, an artist/band on stage is performing for a crowd of people who paid to hear their music, not people trying to have a conversation over it. On the other hand, it seems like a veteran performer like the Grammy-winning LaMontagne would have the composure and patience to wait till a break in the set, and have security talk to the offending party, rather than calling them out and shaming them publicly.
Some fans who attended the concert took to Facebook to either criticize, or support LaMontagne. mLive.com pulled some angry posts from the singer’s Facebook page: “This was the first concert I ever took my son to,” one father said. “He’s only 6. I took him because I love the music but also because Ray seems like a pretty chill guy. So thanks for the cussing and the child like tantrum Ray. Thanks for ruining my child’s first ever concert with unnecessary f-bombs.”
Read The Fan Comments In The Facebook Post Below:
Ray LaMontagne is not the only artist to call out obnoxious fans during a concert. Neil Young and Jeff Tweedy (Wilco) have also condemned concertgoers for talking during their concert. In Tweedy’s address to the rude attendees he said:
“People who are talking during this performance, I have a question for you. What can I do to be a better service to you? Am I not playing the right songs? Am I not pouring my heart out here for you? Tell me what I need to do to get you to listen to the concert that you paid money to go see.”
During a recent AMA (ask me anything) on Reddit, LaMontagne was asked about performing for obnoxious crowds. This was his answer:
“I’ve learned to let them do their own thing. If you try in any way to control the audience’s night, it’s like swimming upstream. You’re just making it harder for yourself. To me, the night belongs to the audience. They paid a lot of money to come to the show. If they want to scream and chat, it’s completely up to them. It’s their night.”
It seems he felt differently on Wednesday night.
There are many concert no-nos when it comes to enjoying a live performance. Too many concerts these days are full of people raising their smartphones or larger tablets to record songs, take pictures, and block the view of people around them (although it’s possible someone caught this incident on camera which would be useful and viral gold). Some people have had too much to drink, and spill beer all over people’s shoes, or constantly bump into people near them. Some find a way to sing louder than the performing band using thousands of watts of amplification.
Everyone is (hopefully) there for the same reason. To see a live show. It’s not a place to catch up with a friend, check your e-mails, or publicly display your affection for your date. Put the phones down, close your mouth (unless you’re respectfully singing along or cheering) and enjoy the performance that the artist is putting their heart and soul into.
Did LaMontagne cross the line, or did the talkative fans get what they deserved? An all-around disappointing incident that put a damper on an otherwise enjoyable concert.
However, the real question is whether or not the engaged couple will pick out a new first dance song for their wedding this fall.
-John Nowak (@jowak93)
[picture by Anna Sink]