Don’t Be That Guy


Stomping around onstage in front of a bar full of rowdy music fans is a pleasure that only a few will ever know.  Some say it’s even better than sex, but I guess that depends on whether you’re performing six nights a week at the Ramada Inn, or just a couple of times in the summer at a wedding with an open bar.

But, for me, somewhere along the line it became more work and less fun, so I hung up my spurs. I still dish out the Maximum Honky Tonk at the occasional festival or private event­­—usually solo—but my days of sweating and shouting through a five hour bar gig are pretty much over. And it’s not because of the sweating and shouting.

It’s because of the people.

Specifically, it’s That Guy. Don’t get me wrong—I have been That Guy. It’s just that now, in my crotchety twilight years when I can be set off into a blind rage by something like the DVR not recording yesterday’s episode of Jeopardy!, I am no longer willing to put up with That Guy’s behavior.

That Guy is the one who will approach the bandstand between (sometimes during) songs and make a request. That in itself is not a big deal. It’s one of the benefits of seeing a live band—they might know your favorite song. But That Guy seems to think that the band owes him something. It usually goes like this:

TG: “Hey, do you guys know Whiskey River?”

BW: “No, we don’t do that one, sorry.”

At this point That Guy should say, “Okay, thanks anyway.” But he says, “What? Really? Are you kidding me? Seriously? You guys don’t know that song? I can’t believe YOU don’t know that song. You should know that song.”

Dude, the name is Wire, not Wurlitzer. If you want to pay me and the boys two thousand dollars to play your party, I’ll learn Whiskey River. I’ll put a fucking red bandana on my head and smoke a lid on the way to the stage. But tonight, no.

Don't be That Guy, By Bob Wire. Missoula, MT

It’s all fun and games until somebody gets brained with a microphone stand. Then it’s frickin’ hilarious.

Or That Guy might be the bar owner. He’ll pay the band a hundred dollars per member, kind of the unofficial Pro Minimum, but will not buy the band a single beer. He’ll have the band announce drink and food specials, tell the crowd who’s playing next week, and wait until the band is three songs into their set before they remember to kill the jukebox. But to buy the band (which has filled the bar with their followers) a couple of pitchers of shitty draft beer? Heaven forbid! Hey, I’m trying to run a business here!

Sometimes That Guy is onstage with me. When break time comes, he ducks outside for a smoke. Fifteen minutes later the rest of us are back onstage, tuning up, making loud obvious instrument noises, but the Marlboro Man is nowhere to be found. When he finally materializes, he says he’ll be right back, he has to go pee.

Speaking of break time, one of the worst That Guys is known as the Break Hog. He will intercept you on your way to the bar where all you want to do is pay full price for a beer, and he’ll say, “You know, I saw you guys back in ’02, when you played the Forester’s Ball…” Then he’ll proceed to hold you hostage during your entire break, assaulting you with a story about his uncle who used to fly a plane for the Forest Service and he played harmonica and had a trick left knee and now he’s divorced and his dog has a giant cyst in his armpit and he doesn’t like the President and can you guys play Whiskey River?

Occasionally That Guy is That Girl. Trying to escape the Break Hog, I’ll walk right past a gaggle of chicks drunk on vodka and Red Bull, and they’ll be yammering at each other nonstop while they simultaneously text and try to catch their reflections in the beer mirrors on the wall. That Girl is typically a college student.

TG1: “Who ARE these guys [the band]?”

TG2: “I dunno. I don’t know any of this music. They’re all, like, old.”

She’s right. I’m old enough to be their older brother. I have concert t-shirts that are older than they are. They need to find a different bar, where the music suits them. Live music has become a pretty rare animal, and I hate to see it wasted on people with no frame of reference. That Girl is out of her element.

That Guy can sometimes be a wild ‘n crazy swing dancer. That Guy dances with every girl in the bar, and they all seem to love being hurled around like a rag doll, much to the disdain and horror of the other dancers. Inevitably, it all goes sour when he drops his dance partner flat on her ass attempting some gymnastic dance spin.

The other dancing That Guy is the one who is so shit-faced that he lurches right into the bandstand, sometimes knocking the singer’s teeth out when he slams into a mic stand. Or maybe That Guy just wants to barge onstage and sing this song with the band because he is, in his Jager-soaked mind, an awesome singer. Know this: the only drunk allowed to sing with the band is the band’s lead singer.

That Guy will sometimes wait until the band is on break, and then he’ll go climb behind the drums to show the crowd that he is an awesome drummer. I’ve seen this heinous breach of etiquette happen several times, but only once did it end properly. That Guy thanked the drummer by hitting him directly in the fist with his teeth.

It would be premature to say I’ll never put boot to stage in a bar again. For one thing, I need to repair my battered carcass and get my chops back up to speed. But at some point the stars will align, a band will materialize, and the money will be right. I ain’t quite done with you yet, Missoula. And when it happens you’d better behave yourself, That Guy, or Uncle Bob with his big toe might just see how far he can stick it up your ass.

   Check out all of Bob Wire’s posts in his blog archive.


Have an off-white Christmas with Bob Wire.Think of it as Gonzo meets Hee Haw: Missoula honky tonker Bob Wire holds forth on a unique life filled with music, parenthood, drinking, sports, working, marriage, drinking, and just navigating the twisted wreckage of American culture. Plus occasional grooming tips. Like the best humor, it’s not for everyone. Sometimes silly, sometimes surreal, sometimes savage, Bob Wire demands that you possess a good sense of humor and an open mind.

Bob Wire has written more than 500 humor columns for a regional website over the last five years, and his writing has appeared in the Missoulian, the Missoula Independent, Montana Magazine, and his own Bob Wire Has a Point Blog. He is a prolific songwriter, and has recorded three CDs of original material with his Montana band, the Magnificent Bastards. His previous band, the Fencemenders, was a popular fixture at area clubs. They were voted Best Local Band twice by the Missoula Independent readers poll. Bob was voted the Trail 103.3/Missoulian Entertainer of the Year in 2007.

You can hear his music on his website, or download it at iTunes, Amazon, and other online music providers. Follow @Bob_Wire on Twitter.


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