By Rita Ballou
(LSM May/June 2011/vol. 4 – Issue 3)
I am not an artist. I am not a musician. I do not work in the “scene.” I am not a songwriter … and to be honest, I am not even a writer. I am just a diehard, concert-addicted, celebrity obsessed, gossip-mongering music fan that looked around one day at my beloved Texas/Red Dirt scene and realized that somewhere along the way, the bands that I dearly loved had started taking themselves way too seriously … and so had the fans.
When did we become brainwashed sheep? When did we just think it was not only acceptable but commendable to accept diva behavior from our music saviors? When did we start to accept music from mediocre bands that were only capable of feeding us regurgitated, copycat crap? I knew that, as fans, we were better than that. And so, about a year ago, I started a blog (www.rawhideandvelvet.com), stole a pen name from an old Guy Clark song and started pissing a lot of people off.
I have been called everything from the “voice of the fans” to a viscous, jealous, bitter, angry, foul-mouthed, hate-spreading bitch. I think the truth lies somewhere in between. I am in no way an expert and what I technically know about music wouldn’t fill a thimble. I am just a fan that found the strength one day to speak what I thought was the truth about something that means the world to me and call bullshit when necessary. I may not always be correct in my assessments, but isn’t that the best thing about opinions? Like assholes, everyone’s got one and everybody thinks everyone else’s stinks.
A little perspective, like humor, goes a long way. Sometimes you just have to step back, take a deep breath, and indulge yourself in a little reality check and laugh at the obvious. Some people call it “social commentary,” but I just like to think of what I do as good old-fashioned shit talking. Besides, if you can’t laugh about things … what’s the point?
For my first column for this magazine, I was asked by the LoneStarMusic folks to introduce myself by revisiting one of my earliest blog posts. I’m new to this, so who was I to argue? So without further ado, I give you …
You may be one, you may date one, you may drink the beer one buys you, or you may even hook up with and leave the bar with one. Just know that if you go to a show in Texas, you are bound to see one: The Man Fan.
The Man Fan isn’t a bad guy. In fact, he can normally be lots of fun and can often make the concert-going experience much more entertaining. But be careful, because his shelf life is very short. He can turn from Good-Time Charlie to a drunken dickhead in the span of about two songs or one Stoney guitar solo, which usually equals the same amount of time.
There are several things to look for while trying to spot the Man Fan. The first thing to notice is he is going to be wearing a band T-shirt. It may not be the band you are there to watch, but it will be a band T-shirt. And the older the shirt the better, because if he is wearing his “Sideburns Do Rule” Wade Bowen shirt, that means he has been a fan “from the beginning.” And we all know how important that is.
Also, watch out, because the Man Fan usually travels as part of a pack, and he travels fast. He will knock a chick down to the ground no matter how hot she is if she dares to try to get to the stage before he does. The Man Fan is not a gentleman, and there really is NO excuse for this type of behavior … actually there is no excuse for any human with a penis to be on Panty Row! Wait, there is ONE reason: to bring girls beer, and then get lost. Panty Row is a sacred place, but this never seems to matter to the Man Fan.
On the plus side, the Man Fan is usually the guy with all the money, so standing near him isn’t always bad, because more than likely you can scam a drink or two off of him before he realizes he’s been used. Although he isn’t very bright, he is very generous and will inevitably buy the entire band Jagerbombs on his daddy’s credit card. It never occurs to the Man Fan that this is just a big fat giant waste of money because the band probably has a pretty decent credit at the bar or at least 10-15 bottles of liquor at their disposal at any given time. None of this really matters to the Man Fan, though, because there is nothing cooler than getting to be that guy in the bathroom standing at the piss trough and slurring to his buddies, “DUDE, I JUST BOUGHT RANDY FUCKING ROGERS A SHOT!”
The Man Fan will suffer from a disease I like to call “Douchebag Turret’s Syndrome.” Again, he can’t help it, he’s a Man Fan. This makes him very easy to spot, especially at a Bleu Edmondson show, because he will be the guy screaming, “YOU’RE MY BOY BLEU!” at least 14 times. He will laugh every time, too, and it never occurs to him that maybe Bleu has heard that one before. He is also the guy that has to yell “CARNEY MAN!” at Cody Canada, “EVERCLEAR!” at Roger Creager, and “BITCH GIVE ME BACK MY RING!” at Bart Crow. Please remember, Douchebag Turret’s can be highly contagious and can also brainwash an entire venue into believing the artist’s middle name actually is “Fucking.” As soon as one Man Fan starts to chant, “Kevin Fucking Fowler,” it seems to spread throughout the bar like Ebola in an African village. The Douchebag Turret’s Syndrome can also cause involuntary hand gestures, known as the “Man Fan Fist Pump.” These rhythmic, jerky movements seem to become worse the closer the Man Fan is to the band.
Again, please don’t think that I am saying the Man Fan is a bad guy. He isn’t. But never forget, he can be dangerous. If by chance one of the artists onstage tosses a pick in your direction, watch out! The Man Fan will not only knock you to the floor, jumping over 10 people to try to get it, but he will usually start a fight with another Man Fan that had the same idea. Also, about four songs into the show, the Man Fan will suddenly morph into Fred Astaire. Oh yes, he loves to dance, but there is no way he’s going to leave his spot on Panty Row to do so. At this point he will always grab a girl, spin her all around and knock over everyone’s beer in the process. And trust me, you do not want to be that girl! The Man Fan has been known to ruin a perfectly good pair of open-toed pumps, not to mention jack up a fresh pedicure in a heartbeat.
Naturally, the Man Fan always has a claim to fame, and you will get to hear one of his super stories a time or seven while you are in line at the merchandise table. This story will usually sound something like this:
“Dude, I smoked pot with Cody Canada on his bus at the Luling Watermelon Thump back in 2006. It was so fucking badass man, I smoked pot with Cody Canada on his bus! Yeah man, it was in 2006 at the Luling Watermelon Thump. In Luling … yeah dude, on his bus. I hope he remembers me, we smoked pot together.”
Oh, and don’t think the Man Fan can only be found at concerts. He is very much into social networking sites — Twitter, Facebook, etc. — and he knows how to use them! Well, somewhat. He is the guy that always writes back to the computer-generated concert dates feeds on artist pages. Example:
Randy Rogers Band:
7 New shows announced! [website link]
Dude, you guys rock. You need to come back to the Luling Watermelon Thump. I smoked pot there with Cody in my “Sideburns Do Rule” tee shirt in 2006.
Also, he is the first to log onto his Twitter and post:
“I got to talk to Cody Canada tonight! He remembered me from the Luling Watermelon Thump and he signed my ‘Sideburns Do Rule’ tee shirt!”
Well, that’s it for now people. Please remember I am new to all this and I am bound to make some rookie mistakes … kind of like Josh Abbott writing the biggest song of his career without knowing that all the bluebonnets are dead in the summer.
Tune in next time, when I will either write something brand new or continue to coast on my old material, because that seems to work out so well for Stoney LaRue. I think I might even retackle the always controversial yet fascinating subject of “Diesel Sniffers.”
Until then I can always be found online, or front and center at a show somewhere, giving you my view … from Panty Row.