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Music

Part 3: Hecklers and Other Interruptions

Les Savy Fav (Photo: Rory O'Connor)

Hecklers, bless their souls, push performers to say things that no person on stage should ever say out loud. Here we honor the best on both sides of this eternal dance of the foul-mouthed.

Part 3: Hecklers and Other Interruptions

Call and Response (Or, Heckler Hell) Hecklers, bless their souls, push performers to say things that no person on stage should ever say out loud. Here we honor the best on both sides of this eternal dance of the foul-mouthed.

5. Mirah

15 October 2008: Chicago, IL There were no mean spirited hecklers at Mirah, but in the case of all musicians who have created a devoted following, there were some who came to hear a certain song above all others. As a result of several requests, she ended up talking quite a great deal about injuring one of her fingers and not being able to play many of her songs, which seemed like a really personal thing somehow. The requesters might have interrupted the show, but Mirah’s intimate responses made you feel like you knew her just a little bit better than you would have otherwise. -Kirstie Shanley

4. Atmosphere

15 October 2008: Providence, RI Toward the end of a more than two-hour show, Atmosphere was winding down with a smooth rendition of "Guarantees". After Slug addressed YouTube haters that called the track a cover of Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Under the Bridge", he and the guitarist started it up. Halfway through, however, the emcee noticed an older audience member crowd-surfing, which seemed odd both at a hip-hop show and during such a mellow song. But for Slug, he was mostly worried about the well-being of the younger kids in the crowd, who he mentioned probably don't have health insurance. He then told everyone to drag the next person down who crowd surfs to kick their ass and then boot them out. -Andrew Martin

3. Rhymefest

21 September 2008: Chicago, IL During his set, Chicago rapper Rhymefest began spitting an emotive trademark a cappella rhyme when he abruptly stopped, appearing deeply troubled. A fan in the first row yelled “fuck that shit!” which Rhymefest heard and repeated. Though the fan wasn’t heckling -- but simply empathizing with the emotional content of the rhyme -- Rhymefest stopped the freestyle and began another song only to then suddenly set his mic down and leave the stage. It was an awkward moment and I left the show feeling oddly concerned for one of Chicago’s finest emcees. -Chris Catania

2. Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers

21 June 2008: New Braunfels, TX Roger Clyne comes from Arizona and has expressed his love of tequila in multiple songs throughout the years. So he went ahead and asked the audience or someone working the hall to bring a glass of tequila to the stage, something he often does at shows. To his dismay, however, the venue, known as the "The Oldest Dance Hall in Texas," only serves beer and sangria. Fortunately for him, someone in the audience came prepared, sneaking in a silver flask filled with tequila. Clyne graciously accepted and took a big swig from it before handing it back to its owner. -Chris Conaton

1. Bon Iver

10 December 2008: New York, NY As Justin Vernon was about to justify his anti-encore stance to the empathetic but enthusiastic 30-something crowd, one older gentleman would not have any of it. “Oh come on!” he interjected, piercing the respectfully attentive quiet. Before the surrounding urban ennui could deride the fellow he let loose a diatribe which I’ve attempted to paraphrase here: “We’ve had such a shit show here, in this city, with this shit show financial crisis…all we want is to relax and hear some nice music from Bon Iver for a couple hours… So come on! Keep playing!” Vernon was so impressed with the man’s candor that he had no other choice but to grant his request and extend Bon Iver’s set with their entire remaining repertoire, five or so songs. Nonetheless: Speaking Up 1 - Biting Lip 0. -Thomas Hauner Band Interrupted Whether facing the challenge of a badly wired sound system or the unfortunate comments of a bandmate, the measure of a professional musician isn’t in what goes wrong, but how he reacts.

5. Broken Social Scene

4 September 2008: New York, NY Broken Social Scene’s Kevin Drew isn’t quite this decade’s Stephen Malkmus, but perhaps it’s just too soon to judge. Midway through a song at New York University’s Skirball Center two of his microphones suddenly gave out. Visibly pissed, he walked off the stage for a goodly amount of time, presumably to call in an emergency vent session with J. Mascis via videophone. He returned in rare form. By the end of the gig he’d delivered as many snide comments about spoiled students at private universities as he had pint-sized rock ‘n’ roll epiphanies. -Spencer Tricker

4. Les Savy Fav

20 July 2008: Chicago, IL Frontman Tim Harrington is known for his crazy stage antics but this festival performance was perhaps even more over the top than usual. Not only was he spotted giving random attendees two-dollar haircuts, his subsequent live performance -- which included various costume changes -- took the cake, especially when he played Oscar the Grouch and was carried across the crowd while inside a giant garbage can. -Kirstie Shanley

3. Liam Finn

11 October 2008: Providence, RI Performing only with Eliza-Jane Barnes at his side, Liam Finn put on one hell of a show. The only problem was the metal band playing upstairs, causing there to be, as the duo said, an invisible bassist in the room. Although the meager crowd tried to ignore the raging show going on above, it was impossible to not acknowledge the noisy distraction. Luckily for us, though, Finn and Barnes fought back by playing an improvised jam they titled "Fuck Off Metal" that was just as heavy as the music leaking through the ceiling. -Andrew Martin

2. Less Than Jake

1 July 2008: Royal Oak, MI Somehow, Less Than Jake always works audience participation into their performances. This Detroit area show came to a screeching halt, though, when co-frontman Chris DeMakes began talking to a member of the security staff working down in front. He brought the guy up on the stage and offered him a beer, which the man politely declined because he was on the job. At this point, DeMakes began to plead and cajole, trying very hard to make him to take the beer, eventually becoming genuinely insulting. This resulted in the band's other frontman Roger Manganelli letting the guard off the hook, sending him back down front, and giving him permission to "Kick (DeMakes') ass after the show." -Chris Conaton

1. Built to Spill

26 September 2008: New York, NY Doug Martsch approaches Built to Spill's live performance of their 1997 masterpiece Perfect From Now On with the sort of meticulously focused stage presence that suggests a deep detachment from his surroundings. And so when the frontman's guitar cut out halfway through "Stop the Show", the irony was not lost, but the ensuing self-consciousness merely undermined the brilliant, expansive trance that shapes the album's dense instrumental passages. At least they didn't stop the show. -Zach Schonfeld

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