Dude, Be Cool: Here’s How NOT to Be a Booze Mutant

Uncle Honus advises you to just puke in your purse.

I love tequila. It’s really all I can drink these days that doesn’t 1) put me to sleep immediately, or 2) make me feel like I’ve ingested several loaves of bread. But what do I love more than tequila? I love our old tour manager Jake, because Jake taught me the simple yet magical combination of tequila, soda water and lime — also affectionately known as “Spicy Water” in our circles. It hydrates as it inebriates, it recharges as it destroys. Anyhoo! Today’s delightful topic: Booze Mutants

Guess what? Booze is cool until it isn’t. Drumroll the duh. It makes the inhibited uninhibited. It makes the inner jerkhole the outer jerkhole. It can turn normally respectful and lovely concertgoers into unintentional terrors. Here’s a list, in no particular order, of etiquette “no no’s” that I or someone like I have encountered during my unspecified tenure in the indie rock “biz.” If I’ve left anything out, (fellow music players) let me know:

DON’T…be the slop monster.

Oh man, you’re so drunk you can barely stand. What happened? You were doing so well, buddy. Was it those tequila shots at the bar? Or when you pounded a glass of red wine? Or two glasses of white? Couldn’t be that third beer you’re drinking right now? Here, let’s do a shot of Jäger. That’ll sober you up. Oops, now you’re a mess. Now you’re bouncing along to the music, clumsily nudging through the crowd, pawing your way closer and closer to the stage like a bear digging through tightly compressed garbage cans.

OK, you’ve found your spot, wedged yourself in very tightly near the front. See? Told you that there was room for me here — chill out with the harsh vibes, fellow concerteer. Cool, the band is playing. Music sounds fucking great!

You pump your fists in the air and accidentally hit the side of someone’s head as you do it. Sorry, sorry. Oh no, what’s this? Someone is handing you a joint? You don’t normally but…rock & roll, dude. You take a long drag, cough all over the people in front of you, maybe splash a little beer on the back of their pant legs for good measure, and laugh it off when they turn around and glare at you. “My bad,” you sorta mumble.

Minutes pass. The tunes zoom into your earholes. Whoa, why is the room suddenly spinning? Your stomach is churning. Maybe you shouldn’t have eaten that chalupa you bought from the guy in the sombrero in front of the 7-11 — where you also bought that pack of smokes you never smoke unless you’ve been drinking at the bar. Fuck, or maybe it was the hot dog with cream cheese and ketchup you bought from the food cart during your third cigarette break? Or was the weed laced? It feels laced. You are so stoned. You feel queasy.

Someone bumps you from behind; you drop your beer. Glass and beer are everywhere. Everyone around you is wet and pissed off.

“My bad,” you think you say, but maybe you imagined saying it. Oh, the spins, the gurgle, the sour taste of cream cheese in your mouth. Hold it in, bub, hold it in. You puke. You ruin everyone’s evening. You’re the worst. Don’t be the worst. And…scene.

DON’T…be the stage stacker

I know you’re tired. It was a long day at work, a long drive to the venue — maybe the dog peed on the carpet while you were devil-locking your hair in place. Maybe you overpaid for your drink after waiting at the bar forever. And, now, you’ve had to slog through three opening bands and you’ve been Panini-pressed so close to the stage that you feel like you’re starting to become the stage. You’ve been mashed and bashed so often that your legs are black and blue and feel like hot clay left in a hot car under a hot sun in a hot desert and you’re a hot mess.

I get it. That purse is so heavy, that drink so slippery, that half-full bottle of domestic beer so annoying to hold that you’ve gotta put it somewhere. Guess what, though? Hate to break it to you, especially after the day you’ve had, but the stage is not your table. Why? Because some bozo is always gonna knock over that room-temperature beer (a.k.a. guitar-pedal-ruining magma) and it’s always gonna slop around freely and gloriously like slow-moving ectoplasm. Maybe it’ll even dump directly into a power strip and short something out. And, just maybe, if the proper unholy forces are perfectly aligned, a roaming singer will slip and fall and get seriously hurt on some shattered glass as they plunge directly into the hell goop.

I’ve seen it happen. I’ve almost eaten it ungracefully many a time on stage after slipping on someone’s spilled beverage. I won’t be a bummer at shows about it, though; I don’t chastise people to take their shit off the stage. I’ll just politely smooth it off with the heel of my shoe so it falls into the trench of broken glass and sticky puddles on the floor.

DON’T…be the bellower.

Don’t you just love it when you go to a show to see your favorite band perform and all you can hear is the girl or guy (drunk, or drunk with excitement, or both) next to you singing a slightly out-of-tune or tone-deaf version of the song you schlepped all the way across town to hear? How about when it’s not just one song, but every single song? No? Well, you’re not alone, grumpy friend. Unless it’s the vibe of the show you signed up for, it’s not the most fun for most people. It’s actually the most not fun. With that said…

This isn’t something that bothers me. I don’t tend to go to shows where the audience sings along the whole time, and if it is that type of show, then I was anticipating it and it’s either hype as fuck or Yanni, who is hype as fuck. As a performer, I absolutely love seeing fans sing along to songs that I’ve written because a) it’s exhilarating, b) it’s humbling and c) it’s incredibly moving. It’s an honor, even when I can tell — and I can always tell, folks — when people don’t know the words. At all. Like, not even a single word. There’s something endearing about that to me even though it’s one hundred percent absolutely annoying for everyone around the perpetrator.

Sometimes I’ll look at someone trying to sing along to a song they’ve clearly never heard before and I’ll mouth, “You don’t know the words to this song at all, do you?” and give ’em an appreciative wink because only a true maniac pretends to know the words to a song they’ve never heard before and I can respect the dedication to their overly gregarious insanity. It’s a very strange, very meta moment when that happens…attendee becomes performer and vice versa.

And what happens when I see someone in the front row singing along who actually knows all the words? I’ll change the ending of a line here or there to see if I can elicit a smile or personal reaction from them like, “You got me!” But that’s just me. I’m a weirdo. I love you. I salute you. Hoist your drink — and if you have to puke, puke into your purse.

Ryan Kattner (aka Honus Honus), is a musician-songwriter, film/theater score composer, screenwriter, mustachioed multi-hyphenate living in Los Angeles. Texas-born, he grew up in the Philippines, South Carolina, Germany, Illinois, Alabama and Missouri before finally settling in Philadelphia and pouring his scattered upbringing into his bands Man Man and Mister Heavenly. He’s releasing his first solo album in 2016. Michael J. Fox as Teen Wolf is his spirit animal. You can follow him on FacebookInstagram and Twitter. (photo credit: Mike Gerry)