Local People

Published on November 2nd, 2016 | by Brittain Thompson


The Worst and Weirdest: Stories from Oxford Musicians

North Mississippi prides itself on deeply-rooted culture, and part of that culture is live music. For those on stage doing the entertaining, things aren’t always the flawless times the audience remembers them as. Here are some of Oxford musicians’ very own tales from the trenches.

Ben Ricketts
The worst show I ever played, hands down, was a house show in northeastern Alabama right before Halloween 2015.
I normally love house shows, but not this one. First of all, I was headlining, and they went from a 4 band bill to an 8 band bill in the last week. I had a show the next day, so I decided to play third after they had already delayed the start time for the show. I was compensated in no way, people spilled beer on my merch, yelled over my set, and I was blocked in my parking space. The host was too drunk to find out who it was.
Two kind guests (which were very hard to come by at this show) helped me. To top it off, some guy started playing drums along with my first song. I can count on one hand the amount of times I have stopped a set dead in its tracks, but I did then and there. My girlfriend and I had to squeeze through a metal band’s mosh pit to load the car, and our only help clearing a narrow path was—again—those two very kind people.
I love house shows and playing live. I’ll just never do it at that dude’s house again. Apparently, someone went through the wall during a drunken late night mosh pit after we left. This was my worst show, and only one or two others have come anywhere close. In seven years of shows, I think playing only a couple of bad shows is a pretty good deal. I’m a lucky dude.

Trey Lyons of The Wayward Kin
July, 2:30 in the morning, Tupelo’s preeminent new “late-night” bar: Boondocks.
Sixty-year-old woman rubs her hands through my sweaty hair, licks it all off. Nobody is seduced, except one sixty-year-old man, who shimmies over to yell in my face: “You think you’re God!!! But you ain’t!!!” She slaps the beer out his hand (and into my monitor), and then she slaps him. Brawl ensues.
We play five hours, get paid $200. The next night, somebody is shot and killed in the parking lot. I assume it is similar lovers’ quarrel. Boondocks, too wild for Tupelo, goes out of business the next week.

Tate Moore of Kudzu Kings
We once were playing at the New Daisy up in Memphis opening up for Jason & The Scorchers. We had played the night before at Proud Larrys’ and it was around Halloween and Dave had brought in a couple bales of hay as stage props. The hay got cut loose at Larrys’ and was a big hit to the crowd. Not so much to the guys that cleaned it up.
So anyway we bring the hay up to Memphis and the same thing happens. The Scorchers were so pissed about it that at the end of the night, when seeing the opportunity to bump into our gear loading out they ran over Max’s amp.

Tad Wilkes aka Moon Pie Curtis
My weirdest gig was when my band Cardinal Fluff opened for the 2 Live Crew at the old Lyric Hall (now the Library) in 1997. Disgusting on many levels. It resulted in losing their liquor license and the owners going to jail. But at least they incorporated Colonel Reb into their raps.

Alex Thiel of Carlos Danger
Have you ever been to a Fazoli’s? If not, let me paint the picture for you: take those .jpgs of fruits and vegetables from your 9th grade biology textbook, blow them up to 3 feet in height, hang them on bare wood-panel walls over green-bean-green carpet, and accentuate with red-and-white tile all around the salad bar in the middle of the restaurant.

Now picture an abandoned Fazoli’s, to which your drummer friend happens to have a key. The stock image art is falling off the wall. The carpet has been torn up off the floor in some corners. The salad bar is gathering dust.
Imagine it’s Christmas break in Jackson, MS, and you and your friends decide to reunite your half-assed cover band from high school on a weekday night in a venue that is a marked step down from an Olive Garden.
After a year or two apart, rehearsal lasts maybe two hours. String lights are strewn across the drum kit. Only half the band comes in at the climax of “Bulls on Parade”, the lyrics of which are being read off an iPhone. Posters were made.
You have not spoken to some of your bandmates since, and while it’s possible that this may have nothing at all to do with this “gig,” it’s equally possible that it does.

Winn McElroy of And The Echo
The worst experience, personally for me, was New Year’s Eve 2015 at Proud Larrys. My birthday is also the same day. I had been so excited for months about that show, but got extremely sick that day. I was literally throwing up in the green room until five minutes before we went on. Morgan walked in to check on me and just said, “Oh my god! We have to cancel. I’ll just go put on some dance music and bring you some water.” I jumped up and tried to shake it off.
We went on in time, but I had three empty cups under my synths just in case I lost it on stage. I had decided that I would time it for when the lights went down after each song. It didn’t happen, but that was our game plan.

Kieran Danielson of Bonus
It was at this old house on 334 that was actually just called 334, and three of my friends, Garrett, Gavin, and Logan lived there.
The house was getting torn down because the city was paving a road there, so Garret told me that, basically, we could mess up their house and have a really extreme party. I was like, ‘a destruction party?’ and he said ‘yeah.’
Nervs was a really heavy and loud band so I was super stoked on the idea of a house being destroyed during a live show, so I started telling everyone I knew about this “destruction party.”
When word of imminent destruction got back to the dudes who lived there, they kind of panicked because they didn’t want it to be too crazy, but it was too late to change anyone’s plans.
We had written a song about destroying a house in honor of the occasion, but we quickly became apprehensive as well, so we changed the lyrics to dissuade people from messing up the house—which didn’t work.
People were throwing cinder blocks at the side of the house—the floor was ripped up—the banisters were torn down and a human-sized hole was made in one of the interior walls.
The last thing we remember was a guy getting naked and running through a bunch of the mesh screens on the patio.
Nobody was hurt, and the house was torn down as planned, but we’re still really sorry to those guys because they didn’t get a cent of their deposit back.
Definitely one of the weirdest shows I’ve played.

Dave Matthews of Kit Thorn Band
The strangest gig I’ve ever played was my first one actually. Me and a friend just kind of pondered aimlessly until we came up with, like, three cover tunes that we could halfway get through. After that we just kind of walked off the stage to a crowd of about three that were completely clueless. (We didn’t even make it through two songs fully) By the way, it was a country gig and we played all Lamb of God covers.
Shane Taylor of NoCanDo, 1LastChance
It wasn’t necessarily a gig, but I was just chilling and playing guitar over beside City Grocery when this dude asked me if I wanted an iPhone. I said, “Nah bruh I’m good.”
Then he threw the phone like 40 ft in the air and smashed it. Then like 10 guys came up and jumped him right in front of me and threw him up against the car. Did I stop playing? Nope, that’s Rock ‘n’ Roll baby! 

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About the Author

Brittain was an associate editor of The Local Voice from 2015-2018, ex-journalism student, and bad noise maker from the highway town of Brandon, Mississippi.

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