Heckled....by the Restaurant/Bar Owner!?! Long Rant

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by GK Growl, Jul 6, 2017.

  1. GK Growl

    GK Growl Inactive

    Dec 31, 2011
    I suppose I could post this in the Humor section too but I'm taking it pretty seriously, to the point of being anxious about this Saturday's gig at this restaurant/bar. First some facts about this gig. It's one of our higher paying ones and this will be the fourth gig there. Also, this is an earlier gig than most, we start at 730pm, while people are still eating dinner and crowd has been quite big the past three times we played there. The final fact is we are a rock cover band that primarily plays 80s, 90s, 2000s, with very few 70's tunes. There are a few pop songs in there too but leaning more towards rock across the board. We advertise the band this way.

    OK, first gig at this place several months ago, goes excellent! Good turnout, good response, dinner crowd stuck around, actually paid us a little more than promised because of how well it went, etc. Bar owner was there and danced (and drank) steadily throughout the night. Nothing but compliments. Offered us a steady gig there and we were happy so we go on our merry way.

    Second gig, while setting up before we even start, bar manager comes up to us and asks us to please start with a little more laid back, softer music to start with because during the first gig, the bar owner was concerned our starting songs were too heavy (you know our usual songs that we start of with are Brian Adams, Goo Goo Dolls, Matchbox 20....real heavy stuff o_O).
    Manager says that owner was concerned that we scared some people off last time (which didn't happen). We all scratch our heads but agree to start of quiet, almost bordering on acoustic and after about 30 minutes we start playing like we normally do. No complaints, gig goes good, crowd was good, manager and bar owner had nothing but compliments again. Bar owner was not there the whole time but when I saw him he was dancing (and drinking) like before.

    Third gig, we figured ok, start off kinda mellow and after about 30 minutes we can "get heavy" :D. We get past the mellow stuff and were probably 3 or 4 tunes into the regular stuff and bar owner actually comes up to us (drinking as usual, basically drunk) and interrupts the set while we are playing. He's shouting all kinds of tunes at us (none of which we usually play but could). In fact, our set lists are available on our facebook page. Everything we are playing is the same as the first two gigs except a few tunes maybe. At this point, he is on stage and has stopped us from playing. He proceeds to tell us that we are playing songs that no one knows (not true, in fact we are playing the same songs we played the first two times) and that on our first gig he really enjoyed it because we played mostly 70's music (again, not true, we have exactly one 70's song in that first set normally).

    At this point after about 10 minutes of heated discussion and listening to the bar owner, people are getting visibly irritated and some are starting to leave. At this point bar owner actually points at people leaving and says "see, they're leaving because you guys aren't playing songs they want." Really?? This absolutely killed the momentum for the rest of the night. When we started playing again, bar owner was sitting at the bar yelling all these 70s tunes that he claims we played the first night (which we didn't). Getting heckled by people is one thing.... but the owner? Later manager comes out and apologizes to us and tells us to keep doing what we are doing, that the owner doesn't know the place and that he is just an old man (he's in his 60's and I would say that most people there were anywhere from 20's to 60). We get paid the same as usual and manager assures us that we are great and that we do what we do and don't worry about the owner!?! Which by the way, at this point was barely upright from drinking, but still managed to tell us that he expected more 70s tunes next time we are there. Manager said to ignore that because that doesn't suit the majority of the people there. Needless to say, we haven't exactly learned a lot of new 70s tunes.

    I don't know what to think or if I should even think about this. To say I'm anxious about Saturday would be an understatement. In fact, I am dreading it. I'm dreading a repeat of the last scenario and me or my bandmates not being as cordial as we were last time. We discussed this as a band and the money is really good and we know that this is work and not for our personal enjoyment but where do we draw the line, if there is one to draw at all?
    csc2048b likes this.
  2. RSBBass


    Jun 11, 2011
    Sorry but it sounds like the owner has a drinking problem. How he will behave depend on hwo far into the bottle he is that night. You could try having one or two 70's songs ready to placate hime. By the time you are done he probably won't notice. Good luck
  3. GK Growl

    GK Growl Inactive

    Dec 31, 2011
    Yeah, we actually did try that last time. He wants a steady stream of ZZ Top, Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Foghat, etc. Look, I have NOTHING against any of those artists and wouldn't mind playing them. They are not part of what we usually do and the few that we did, most people could have cared less. The demographic of this place does not suit what the owner thinks we should play.
  4. mech

    mech In Memoriam

    Jun 20, 2008
    Meridian, MS, USA
    Bar owner is an alcoholic. The next gig would be the last one there for me and I'd let the manager know why. Don't need that type of stuff in my life.
  5. Been there. The owner will continue to randomly be a pain in your ass. You can't fix that, so your options are to laugh it off and soldier on (my approach) or quit the venue. Sucks, but that's really it. Good luck!
  6. Stumbo

    Stumbo Guest

    Feb 11, 2008
    Have a sit down with the owner and manager during the day. Start the meeting with "Based in our recent successful gigs at your restaurant...".

    Bring your song list. Write up a contract that includes as long as you're playing songs on your song list, no on in management bothers you during the gig. However you want to word it.

    If they won't sign it, walk.
    design, ialma, And I and 9 others like this.
  7. Generally this might be good advice, but the owner is a drunk. He might be agreeable and sign stuff but once he gets lit up, all bets are off.
  8. slagheap


    Dec 23, 2011
    i started playing gigs in the early 70s when four sets a night was the norm, often with a "dinner set " to start the evening. i played a zilliion different kind of gigs all over CA, NEV, & COLO, but the one constant was completely unpredictable club owners. some of 'em are bat-terd cwazy. running a nightclub or a bar is a lot different than owning a little grocery store. it's the nature of the beast.
    McFarlin and aborgman like this.
  9. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Inactive

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Yeah he's a total variable at this point. There is no predicting what he will do next so there's no advice to give really.

    Here's what I would do (and have done) with this one. Find the manager. Talk to him. Jist ask him flat out "Hey man. So, does he do this with all the bands or does he ha e a problem with jist us? Because if that's jist who he is with everybody....and he doesn't hold any grudges....we can work around that. But if he's jist railing on is for no apparent reason we may habe to call it after this gig."

    Now, this is a coin toss for sure. He could...

    1) Put his hand on your shoulder and shake his head while saying "I know man. I'm sorry. You can't tell him anything cuz he lwms the place. Hang in there as long as you can and stop playing here when it gets to you like all the other bands do." (This has happened to me.)

    2) He could tell you to shut up and set up if you want to keep the gig. He could also tell you that your band is the one causing the problems and not the owner. (This has also happened to me....to which I took a deep breath, honored our agreement to play, got paid, and THEN let the manager hold it at the end before we left.....meaning I lit into him for about a ten minute rant.)

    Best of luck
  10. filmtex


    May 29, 2011
    Lie. Like. A. Dog. When he asks for more 70’s music- enthusiastically agree. When he asks when you’re going to play them. Tell him you already did. Tell him Matchbox Twenty is one of the most famous 60’s bands ever. Look him straight in the eye and tell him anything. What does it matter. You’re never going to win this one. Play till he stops booking you or figures it out or what ever and move along to the next gig. There’s no way to win this one and logic just doesn’t work with this kind of person. Oh. And smile. A lot. Works every time.
    6Bass101, gumtown, HolmeBass and 16 others like this.
  11. PauFerro


    Jun 8, 2008
    United States
    You need to get the owner and manager in the same place, and discuss the role of 70 tunes if this comes up again. Ask them both to share each other's opinions of the music. Let them come to a meeting of minds about it. This is what I was trained to when I have two managers telling me to do conflicting things. You have to get them into the same room and let them decide what they want from you. This often makes the problem go away.

    If I were you, I'd talk to the manager before the gig and ask if he wouldn't mind running interference with the owner. Let him know that you are doing what the manager said, but fear that since the set list hasn't changed, you may incur the displeasure of the owner. Could the manager take care of that for you? And ask the manager -- what does the manager suggest you say to the owner if he comes at you again?
    wintremute likes this.
  12. catcauphonic

    catcauphonic High Freak of the Low Frequencies Supporting Member

    Mar 30, 2012
    Seattle WA
    That wood be ideal, but in my experience what the manager says to you on the side may be different than what he's willing to say in front of the owner.

    Reads like the owner is going to continually be a PITA, and if you want to continue playing there you're going to have to learn to deal with his ways (like the manager does.)

    Annoying to deal with if everything else is going well, especially since you're giving the people what they want until the man you're doing the most good for steps in and blows it.

    The food must be amazing if he continually draws a crowd there while behaving like that regularly.
  13. Flippy


    Jun 9, 2017
    This seems like the best option. Everyone is happy and OP's band still gets paid.
    SmokinJoe992 likes this.
  14. QORC


    Aug 22, 2003
    Elberon, New Jersey
    I think I wouldn't book there again.
    DirtDog, Socobass and Coolhandjjl like this.
  15. Ox Boris

    Ox Boris Inactive

    Nov 23, 2015
    At which point he'd exit stage with a bonus boot print.
    AT the stage? Just play over him. Mic is power.
    ON the stage? PUNT him off. For his own safety, of course...
  16. BassBrass


    Jul 6, 2009
    Boston MA
    Exactly, actually have some fun with it. Interject some joyful chaos and do not fear. Bow to him Asian style and say okay-dokey! And say Yes Sir! we will do this you ask! with a huge grin on your face. DO speak to you manager about buffering the guy. This weekend IS a full moon so don't engage angrily with anybody
    SmokinJoe992 likes this.
  17. bassmonkeee

    bassmonkeee Supporting Member

    Sep 13, 2000
    Decatur, GA
    Seriously? You have some ridiculous internet fantasies if you really think you would kick the owner of the bar off his own stage.

    You are either willing to put up with a volatile unpredictable drunk, or you aren't. No meeting with the manager and the owner is going to fix this. I take that back--when the owner says, " who the Hell are you to lecture me in my own bar?" The decision will be made for you.
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2017
    BIG97BEN, Joe Ty, Aqualung60 and 2 others like this.
  18. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    I get what the problem is - owner is a drunk - but I don't get what the problem is in fixing it? Learn and play his requests, and play them when he requests them. There are also TONS of classic rock 70s tunes that you can learn in a day. Ipad and cellphone holders make chart and lyric sheets easier to do than ever.

    To be honest, I don't see anything the owner is doing that is all that horrible outside of acting like a drunken ass. Not paying you, cutting your pay at the end of the night, changing gigs up at the last minute, double booking, etc., those are the things that make for walking away. Drunken fools, even when that fool is the owner, I think are part of the job. It's best IMO to learn to roll with it.

    A lot here also depends on your motives and goals as a band. Do you just want to play for fun once in a while, if so, then screw it and move along. Find another place to play. Do you want to be as successful a cover band as you can be? Then learn now to roll with lots of BS, and roll with a big fat smile on your face. Owner is boss. Do what he/she wants first, what the crowd wants second, and what you want, third. Not even sure that third part should be there.

    Whatever you do, getting into any kind of argument with the owner in NOT the way to go. And if he's the drunk he seems to be, attempts at communicating/reasoning will not be all that helpful either.
  19. ZAR14


    May 15, 2016
    Bar Owner is a Drunk. He probably thinks you guys are a Polka Band....
    foolforthecity likes this.
  20. Ox Boris

    Ox Boris Inactive

    Nov 23, 2015
    No, not seriously. It was a metaphor for the level of energy I wished to convey ought to be used to remove him. It may not require a kick ;-)
    I don't let drunks on stage. It's unsafe.