Editor's note: I came across this letter today during my daily Google search and decided it was worth sharing. To give you some sense of context, it appears to have been written about 7 weeks after Haymaker was released and was published in the Forums section of AustinChronicle.com. Enjoy!
An Open Letter to Gourds Fans
February 28, 2009
I’d like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation to all Gourds fans everywhere for their unflagging support of one of Austin’s—if not the country’s—truly great musical groups. Without it, Kevin, Jimmy, Max, Claude, and Keith would most likely be stuck working for The Man and the world would be deprived of some of the finest Americana music around. Through CD sales, merch sales, and concert attendances, we allow them to continue doing what they do best: dishing out their own special musical gumbo for the “unwashed and well-read.”
That said, I’d now like to touch upon a little-known fact about The Gourds that many fans seem to forget when given the blessed opportunity to see them perform live at a show. You see, The Gourds is a band, a group of guys who write lyrics and play instruments in the studio to create albums and perform onstage to create a live show—that sort of interactive experience where the audience is allowed to inhabit and revel in The Gourds’ musical world for a couple of hours. A live Gourds show is always a fun time, no doubt about it.
The fact that The Gourds is a band may seem very obvious to most of us out there—why, it’s staring us in the face as we look onstage and see them play their instruments and sing into the microphones, right?
Perhaps not. For some reason, at every Gourds show I’ve attended over the years, there is a certain segment of the fan base who—caught up in the sheer ecstasy of the experience—seem to forget this basic fact and instead operate under the false assumption that the band with the set list onstage is in reality their very own fucking jukebox that will play any song they want, provided they scream the title at the top of their lungs.
Lemme let this segment of the population in on a little secret: Contrary to what you may believe, you are not at a Chuck E. Cheese and your screaming voice isn’t some magic token you can throw on the stage to make the animatronic Country Bear Jamboree play whatever fucking song you want. See, there’s this implied contract between a live band and its audience, and that is: They Do Not Play What We Want To Hear From Them, We Hear What They Want To Play For Us. This is the Rule of the Live Show, and it includes practically all bands, not just The Gourds.
If this little nugget of Truth makes you unhappy, allow me to suggest a solution that might turn that frown upside down. Since you obviously live in your own solipsistic fantasy world, try this experiment on for size: Slip in a Gourds CD at home and cue up that song you want to hear. Now close your eyes and imagine that you’re front and center at a show at Jovita’s, or Antone’s, or fucking Madison Square Garden for all I care. Now imagine that they’ve just finished up a number and there’s a lull as they switch instruments. Take a deep, deep breath now and scream the name of that song as loud as you can. Scream it a couple times, because in your imagination they didn’t catch it due to all the other fans like you screaming the name of the song THEY want to hear. But yours is loudest! Kevin looks at you, nods his head, then turns to the guys. “1, 2, 3, 4…”
Now hit Play on your CD player. Wow! Problem fucking solved!
You see where I’m going with this? Does it not ever sink into your noggin just how fucking amateur you sound, braying “[insert song title here]!” over and over until you’re completely hoarse, as if you truly believe that the band is going to bow to your demands and play only what YOU demand they play? Do you not realize that they’re NOT a jukebox, NOT an “All Request Live” radio show, and NOT, fer chrissake, your own personal Gourds iPod playlist? Sure, we’d all love to hear “Blood of the Ram.” Hell, as a Gourds fan, I’d love to hear any song they want to throw at me. That’s why I’m at the fucking show in the first place. But I would never be so impudent as to think I’ve got the god-given right to demand that they kowtow to my every puerile desire (see Implied Contract, above).
I’d be remiss if I didn’t end this little rant with the rather obvious inclusion of their quirky bluegrass version of “Gin and Juice.” I love it as much as everyone, but it’s clear to me that the band recognizes it as the (brilliant though it may be) novelty that it is and will play it as sparingly as possible. On the rare occasion they do play it at a show, it’s that much better appreciated—icing on an always-delicious cake, as it were.
So for all you “diehard” Gourds fans who scream for them to play that particular chestnut at every goddamn show:
Please, turn around, exit the venue, return to your frat house, pop in that Dane Cook DVD you love so much, and assume your normal circle jerk position around the TV with your brahs. Thank you for your cooperation.