Listen to the Band (Sometimes)

Play the drum a little bit louder,
Tell me I can live without her,
If I only listen to the band.

Michael Nesmith, “Listen to the Band”

I love that song. I love listening to the band. Pretty much any band. Just not while I’m eating. Actually, I would like to be able to eat without any songs. It’s getting harder to do.

Could we please stop having bands in restaurants? A band in a bar is one thing – I expect that. However, the new trend of putting amplified bands in a restaurant just pisses me off. A lot.

Don’t get me wrong – I love music, so much it annoys most of the rest of my family. I can quote lyrics ad nausem. I volunteered for the Board at KNON because of their (our) music programming. I will pay to see a band I like, I always tip, but stop fucking playing while I’m trying to eat. I can’t hear anyone at my table, and I’m with people specifically so I don’t have to eat alone.

The only exception is a truly cavernous space, or a large Tex-Mex place with a cheesy Mariachi band just to be ironic (or for tourists, in a tourist trap). If you have twenty tables or less, you don’t need a band. Amplified. You just don’t. Please stop.

Also, any Hispanic band in a Tex-Mex place that plays “Smooth Operator” should have their union cards revoked.

If you want a small acoustic band playing in your restaurant just to avoid having a CD player, don’t. It’s lose-lose. If they’re good, nobody can hear them over the noise, but at least you can talk at the table. For me, I’ll be instantly distracted (quoting lyrics, original versions, the whole setlist), which annoys my companions. If they have any self-confidence (a musician? self-confident?), they just crank it up so you can hear them. In spite of my love of music, sometimes I don’t want to hear you. No offense, really, but my wife has stuff to talk about. If we do it in public, we fight less, or at least more quietly.

I love music, but I’m losing some of my favorite restaurants because somebody thought music would add a good vibe. It doesn’t. It’s annoying me. If it annoys me, a music lover, what is it doing to less tolerant people? I know we saw one couple walk out of a place tonight before they got in the door, because they heard the band.

Move music back to the bars where it belongs.

For my musician friends, I love you guys. I really do. I’ll always buy your CDs, I’ll download your MP3s, I’ll support your Kickstarter projects (don’t tell my wife), I’ll come to your shows when I can. I’d get you on the radio, but the DJs own their playlists. If you ever need a producer, I took a record production class years ago. If you could let me eat quietly, we’ll call it even.