What To Do When The Crowd Yells "Free Bird!"

congress jan7.jpg
Sooooooo.... Thursday, the U.S. Constitution was read aloud on the floor of the House of Representatives, an act that Rocks Off views as the government equivalent of doing your homework on the morning bus, but whatever.

Just as Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J. was reading the bit about the eligibility to be president a woman heckled him by shouting out "Except Obama!" from the visitor's gallery. If this was a Justin Townes Earl concert, she probably would've gotten a punch in the nose. As it is, the unnamed woman was simply escorted out by capitol police after proving that there is not a single safe venue left in America for good spoken-word performances.

What to do with hecklers? The question is as old as performance itself. Rocks Off decided to ask some of the rockers who have unwisely given us their personal email addresses what they advise.

Keeton Coffman, The 71's:

"I usually try and start singing about them while they are doing it. Once a guy humped my mic stand. That ended in a fight."

Kris Krunk:

The closest I've come to being heckled, is when I started the Krunkquistadors with my friend Danny. It was just he and I at first, making the beats and spittin' the rhymes.

We did a hip hop show at Jet Lounge a few years back, and we did not fit in with the crowd at that particular show. When we got on stage, you could hear snickering and comments like "WTF is this" and "For real????"

We knew some criticism would come with two white boys doing hip hop, one looking like he just got done shopping at the GAP and one lookin' like a country fried version of Tom Jones, especially after following an extremely gangsta group from New Orleans who just performed before us, who were talking about anything you can think of that's gang related, and the crowd went nuts for them.

We didn't let it faze us, though. We were well rehearsed and knew the set like the back of our hands. As soon as the beat dropped to our song "Sweet Sweet," the entire club changed their attitude real quick. We pretty much won the crowd over after just one song. There was a small group that just didn't wanna hear our upbeat and dance club type songs, but that didn't hurt our feelings, they just went outside during our set.

I say hecklers sometimes can make a motivated person do even better at a show, so they can shut that guy/girl up and hopefully win them over. Now if you come to a show unprepared and not giving two shits about it, heckling might be for the best.

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As a DJ for the former heavy metal radio station Z-Rock I got heckled at Backstage while introducing some kids in a battle of the bands.

Off the top of my head I asked the heckler if I had interupted him while he was flipping burgers and if I had I apologized. I said it sarcastically but with a polite smile and the small crowd laughed. The heckler was, thankfully, seen and heard no more.

The next day I asked my far more experienced boss, Dangerous Dave Mendez, what he did with hecklers and he gave me a list of comebacks that I picked from to memorize. Thing was, from that day forward I never had another heckler. Still it's good to be prepared.


Haha @ the table story


I keep a burrito in my guitar case just for this occasion. When someone heckles me, I say "What a top idea!" and spend the next 10 minutes of my set chowing down.


If a person actually yells "Freebird!" I say play it! By the 5th minute of the extended guitar solo at the end, everyone will either love you or gang up on the guy who made the request and kill him.

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