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Wednesday, September 17, 2014
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Published: Friday, 9/27/2013

Culture Shock

Bootleg bombs are a big no-no at concerts

BY KIRK BAIRD
BLADE STAFF WRITER

By now everyone’s heard of “photobombing,” the annoying and funny if it doesn’t happen to you viral trend of someone or something unexpectedly — and often deliberately — appearing in a photo and sabotaging the camera’s captured moment.

So what’s the audio equivalent?

I ask this because while streaming several bootleg concert recordings I’ve been forced to listen to annoying audience comments caught by the mike and, like prehistoric mosquitoes in petrified amber, preserved forever.

Naturally, there’s nothing witty about these remarks. In a Radiohead bootleg show from Chicago, an audience member feels compelled to comment to a friend about band member Jonny Greenwood swapping electric guitars for every song.

“Does he really need a different guitar for every [expletive] song? Really?”

The guy’s tone is so grating that I desperately want to match his sarcasm with my own, “Yeah, apparently Jonny does, jerk, or maybe you know more about guitar tech than a professional musician.” But what’s the point in arguing with the past?

As annoying as the Radiohead bootleg bomb is, I recently discovered an even more offensive headphone intrusion: an anonymous and obnoxious dude berating the indie outfit Clap Your Hands Say Yeah during the band’s encore portion of an Athens, Ga., performance. The 2007 concert took place just as Clap Your Hands Say Yeah was becoming a minor music phenomenon, the result of a momentary burst of media attention touting the group as the next big thing you’ve never heard of.

Such insufferable hipster hype explains the angry and probably drunk dude’s derisive and dismissive attitude towards the band.

“Your live show sucks. You’re a bunch of prima donnas,” he calls to the stage prior to the first encore. A minute later angry dude offered this clever critique: “This is total trash!” he screams, drowning out the band mid-song. “I want my 17 dollars back!”

I suspect he wasn’t the only one. As obnoxious as angry dude is on the recording, I can only imagine how infuriating it would have been for any Clap Your Hands Say Yeah fan unfortunate enough to be standing next to him.

To their credit, no one in the band can be heard responding to their detractor.

Pink Floyd’s mastermind Roger Waters did just that, though, decades ago at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium, going so far as to spit on a teenage fan crawling up the storm netting to the stage mid-concert and then mocking him with sarcastic calls of “Come back! All is forgiven! Come on, boy! Come on, son!”

Later that night at his hotel, Waters was so distraught by the incident — shocked by his spiteful reaction, and troubled by the perception of a fan base increasingly disconnected from the band and its music — he imagined a wall separating himself from the audience. And thus, the origin of Pink Floyd’s double-disc concept album “The Wall.”

More infamous is Bob Dylan’s interaction with a concert-goer angered by the singer-songwriter’s transition from acoustic to electric.

The man decries the musician as a “Judas!” during a quiet moment between songs, much to the crowd’s delight. After a few more taunts by others in the audience, Dylan responds with “I don’t believe you,” followed by “You’re a liar!” And then he urges his band to “play it [expletive] loud” moments before a fiery version of “Like a Rolling Stone” closes the show.

Nearly 50 years after the “Judas” incident, the anger and frustration in Dylan’s voice still resonates as he wails the song’s chorus to his detractors: “How does it feel/To be on your own/With no direction home/Like a complete unknown/Like a rolling stone?”

The recording, released as “Bob Dylan Live, 1966: The Royal Albert Hall,” is rightly considered among the great live albums. It’s a designation undoubtedly due in some part to the greatest bootleg bomb of all time.

Contact Kirk Baird at kbaird@theblade.com or 419-724-6734.



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