How do the famous handle fame?

It’s a thought that’s been on my mind now since the close of Nerdapalooza.

While the bands who played there may not be as famous as say a movie star or a big name rock band, in our community of Video Game Nerds and VG Music lovers, they are famous enough.

So how do they handle it?

I started wondering this after I met Dr Wily, the lead guitarist of the NESkimos in person. On the official forums, he has been mostly absent during my time. I happened to have joined the forums right when the NESkimos were going on their 5 year break, and during my time there he was absent as far as I could tell. I know that plenty of the forum members had met him in person during the shows in St Augustine before my time, and even were on a first name basis with him and the other band members, but for me to meet him in person…

It threw me off. And yes, I actually did initiate the conversation. Don’t ask me why. I guess I had a sudden urge to make myself look like an idiot. FAILHOOF MODE GO GO.

When I told him my forum name and he recognized me, however, I had no idea how to react honestly.

But at the same time I wonder what was going through his head. Was it “Who is this guy that’s bothering me while I smoke?” Was it “oh great another rabid fan?” His outward appearance once I mentioned my name was that of a super friendly guy. I am FAIRLY certain that he, along with Bruce and Dylan, genuinely were happy to see a fan, and given that Wily actually stood there discussing some of his hopes and plans for the Orlando nerd community with myself and Brou as well as taking a picture with me (at his request with his camera), says to me that he is actually a really nice guy.

It got me thinking. Some fans idolize these guys, but they are people just like you and me. They have day jobs, hopes, dreams, and fears just like us. But at the same time…I just am not sure what to think of them, and how to handle meeting them.

My first example of this.

I was in the Subway near the venue on Saturday night, prior to the Metroid Metal stuff. And in line, standing in front of me, is Brentalfloss. When I realized it I couldn’t help but call him out. Thankfully the place was empty, and he didn’t seem super bothered. But at the same time he seemed uncomfortable to have been noticed. I left him alone after that, and he went and got himself some Sun Chips.

Sunchips are tasty.

Here is another great example.

Wily, for whatever reason that I have yet to fathom, invited me and Brou (my friend Dan) to go to this Beer Pong Tourney / Afterparty thing. I was honestly surprised and honored by such an offer and after some thought I let him know that we were game. At least for the hanging out part (I don’t and can’t drink, personally)

However, when I got to the room I was told to go to, Wily was no where to be found. When the door was opened and I was staring at the band members of Metroid Metal, for the briefest instant I worried that Wily had set me up to make a fool out of myself. Again, I had no idea what to think in this situation. And just to be clear: Wily never did show up before I left at Midnight, an hour and a half after I got to the room. I have no idea if he showed up later, although on my way out I did catch Dylan and let him know what room the beer pong was in.

Thankfully. I discovered that the Metroid Metal guys were all really cool and once I managed to explain to them how I found out about the party, they seemed to accept me and Brou and we hung out for about an hour. Brou chatted with the bassist and another guy (who turned out to be very similar to us, not part of any band but apparently knew and were friends with the Metroid Metal guys)

I ended up spending most of my time talking to the artist for the band, FoxxDragon. I learned that all the guys had day jobs. One was a pharm tech. FoxxDragon was actually a game animator. And so forth. We ended up even going with them up to the beer pong room and hanging out for a bit there before leaving because there was simply TOO MANY PEOPLE.

However, when Day 2 came along I had no idea how to act around them. Was I an acquaintance? Would they even remember who I was? Why would they? As they pointed out a few times, I was an unknown no name guy. Which is true.

I didn’t want to seem a pest either.

So I basically stayed away from the ones I saw. That is of course till I ran into them at the Danimal Cannon show. And surprise, the guys didn’t seem to bothered by our presence and actually stood around and chatted with us again. I actually chatted about Danimal with the keyboardist of Arm Cannon, whose name I do not remember.

But I still wonder in my head…….how do they think of me? Just another sycophant trying to get into their good graces?

Next I could mention the guys from Random Encounter. Now the guitarist who wears the bandanna always seems to be running around in the crowd, and is generally very approachable. He also seems very earnest and friendly. But the rest of the band? Not so much. Although I did meet and chat briefly with the other guitarist and the bassist of RE, and they gave me high fives (for some reason I have yet to figure out)

Its feelings like these that make me avoid the merch tables and “meet n greets”. I don’t WANT the band members to think of me as some crazy desperate fan, because I am not. I respect their work, but I don’t put them on a pedestal. And I really don’t want them to look down on me as some sort of nut job. And at the same time, I don’t want to deal with the obsessive fans.

Its weird the thoughts that go through my head huh.

Now how does this time in to how do THEY handle fame? Well, I imagine that they must have similar thoughts running through their heads.

Just think about it. They are there to entertain us, and in some cases they depend on us for their livelihood. But what kind of thoughts are running through their heads as they stand on that stage?

I recall something Dylan (the bass player for the NESkimos) said to me while he was onstage for the sound check. I called out and sarcastically had said that he appeared enthused. When in reality to me he looked kind of nervous. The response I got?

“I am just taking it all in.” He said this while looking out over the concert floor. And his voice had a hint of nervousness in it.

It’s a real fear I would expect. If they mess up during a set (any act) they can possibly piss off the crowd. Just look at the MC Chris stuff that’s been happening lately.

Furthermore, I wonder what goes on in the heads of the band members when the meet a fan. Given the state of our society were stalking, violence, and craziness is all you ever hear about, its hard to not instantly assume that this person could be any one of those sorts of people. Yet you have to maintain at least a cordial appearance, or you could trigger that person. At the same time if you appear TOO friendly, you might get someone who takes it the wrong way.

And heaven forbid if you are a female band member, like the flautist or the guitarist in Descendants of Erdrick. Or the bassist in Random Encounter. Given that the majority of the nerd population in male, and, to be frank, the aforementioned females are VERY attractive, I can only imagine what goes in their heads. The flautist for example almost looked like a deer in the headlights when I ran into her during the Random Encounters set.

Its this intricate dance of strange social customs, and I hate it. There is a divide, a gulf, between fans and the bands in my opinion. Its this gulf of social status. How to handle each other. And I don’t think it needs to be there.

So here is my question, to those band folks who ACTUALLY read this:

What’s it like, being on that side of the divide? What runs through your head? What thoughts go on in there when you meet a fan?

And to those on my side, the onlooker side.

How do you react when you meet someone famous? How do you handle it? And what do you worry about?

I guess my insecurity about this stuff stems from the fact that this weekend, with all its insane meetings, was the first time something like this has happened to me.

And honestly I am fucking confused about the whole bloody thing.

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4 thoughts on “How do the famous handle fame?

  1. ANON

    First, I’d like to say that this was well written and that I feel the exact same way when meeting with performers, in spite of being someone who got on stage this weekend.

    What’s the other side like? More or less like the other side of a mirror. Imagine being around a bunch of musicians you idolize, respect, and love who might know “of”‘ you but don’t particularly know YOU or what you look like. Then imagine being at a party where a lot of people know you but who you’re not sure who you know because it’s a sensory overload and a lot more people than you’re used to being around. Festivals and Conventions in particular are confusing because you’re generally not sure if you’re chatting with a distant online friend (from a forum or something who you might have never met in person), a fan, a random friendly person who doesn’t know you but feels chatty, or another musician from a band you’re less familiar with, but the person talking is being friendly and seems familiar. All the different faces you see kind of blur together in that moment so I always try to be friendly, respectful, and honest (the whole “be yourself” thing) with the people i’m meeting, which is often hard to do until you figure out who you’re talking to.

    When meeting a fan (which is still a very strange thing for me, that people enjoy what I do) it’s kind of awesome and humbling. It’s fun talking to someone who cares what you’re up to or what you’ve done, and to learn more about them. It’s one thing when your website says ’10 listens’, it’s another when you meet one of those 10 people and chat with them about what they thought about your song, what kind of music they listen to, or what kind of projects they’re working on. Seriously, like half the people I talked with are working on some sort of awesome music or art project.
    A lot of people who started off as ‘fans’ have become friends I really enjoy being around. I just don’t know how to handle complements. When someone says they really like something you’ve made or a show you’ve played or just appreciate you it feels like the end of a conversation and I don’t often know where to go from there beyond “thanks”, which is kind of a closed-ended answer (forcing one of us to work to keep the conversation going).
    So what are the thoughts in my head when meeting people who enjoy what I do?
    Something akin to “Wow, someone likes my stuff.”
    However, i’m generally on your side of the divide, meeting people I admire and respect, wondering if my socially awkward self is bugging them, and telling them how much I really really love their music, because I do.

    Like

  2. Danimal Cannon

    Had a conversation about this very topic over the weekend.

    As people are very different, this experience can vary greatly from each artist’s view, so I’ll try to speak from my own perspective.

    At this stage of the game, we’re not movie stars, we just look like unapproachable gods up on stage with epic sound systems and lighting designed to make us look like we have magic powers. Think Zardoz. Same thing with magazine covers and photoshop touchups on modeling photos.

    So, at a show, personally I love receiving praise after a show, but when someone goes over the top and treats you like a god, it puts a barrier between yourself and them, you put them on a pedestal. When that happens, it makes it difficult to engage in conversation and it usually ends up pretty awkward. Meanwhile, if you give praise that’s respectful but you talk to them like you would a peer, that feels natural and is genuinely awesome. Just think about what you would say to a good friend of yours who just completed something awesome. I’m not saying that you need to treat artists like your best friend, but more so referring to the casual nature in which you communicate.

    For the most part, keep it brief unless you have a specific question to ask, whether it’s about gear or if so and so was influenced by a certain artist or something like that. Most artists enjoy geeking out about their craft, but not necessarily. I guess, don’t be afraid to come up and say something, but keep it casual, keep it brief unless the conversation just magically keeps going, and also know that some artists might respond distantly. Maybe it was a bad time, maybe they’re shitty people. Who knows.

    Like

    1. Clayton

      Thansk for the perspective. I am surprised honestly that anyone at all even read this rambling incoherent mess.

      Then again I am fairly sure you won’t get this reply based simply on the fact that you used what appears to be a fake email, for obvious reasons of course.

      I will say I enjoyed chatting with you on Saturday night about drug costs, and hearing Dan the bassist’s stories about the nasty hotel room stuff.

      Like

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