Hard Tack & The Tantrum Dance

musings of a professional dreamer

The past month on the road has certainly provided its fair share of entertainment, and I thought I’d share two random moments from two different shows on opposite sides of the big rock, purely because they made me giggle. It’s not often that I crumble on stage. In fact, I’m pretty good at hiding my emotions (when necessary) when I’m up there in the bright lights. But these two incidents broke my perfect track record.

Last night I played in Durbanville, hosting my oldest audience member yet, a sprightly young soul boasting 80+ years of life experience, who threw out the most unexpected, classic chirp yet. At my shows, I carry a silver hipflask by my side. It tends to get a snigger from audiences when I take a swig, and I won’t deny finding it rather amusing how badly everyone wants to know what’s in it. Half way through my set last night, I took a good swig from my trusty secret stash, only to hear the lady yell “oh dear, she’s on the hard tack again”, which had me in stitches for a good few minutes before I could carry on. It’s not often that the audience catch me off guard, but when they do, it makes a show that much more memorable.

(I’ll be sharing some of my hard tack with audiences around the country over the next month, so keep your eyes peeled for some freebies!)

Two weeks back, I was in the small, out-of-the-way town of Newcastle in northern KZN for two shows before heading up to Joburg. When I mention playing shows in Newcastle, I generally get the same surprised response from people, but to be honest, it’s one of the smaller towns in SA that I most look forward to visiting. There’s a music club held once a month at a bar called Melo’s, and this being my second visit, I was prepped and ready for another great night enjoying the company of some cool people, doing what I love.

My music, especially when I’m playing solo, is definitely not of the get-up-and-dance variety, and I have no issues with that. My focus is lyrics, so I prefer people to sit and listen and process what I’m singing, but that’s not to say I don’t appreciate it when someone feels the beat, and last night, someone certainly did.

I admire people who have no inhibitions – those people you find yourself frowning at because they’re the only one on the dance floor, letting themselves go as if no one is watching. It’s refreshing and not something you see very often, unless you live in a small town where true characters abound. From the start of my set, this guy felt EVERY note and had no skaam showing it, so much so that I could see other people in the venue getting a bit uncomfortable, and almost embarrassed. But half way through my set, when I started to play “Oh Boy”, my cool, calm and collected self went out the window. As I started the first chorus, his previously moderate (by comparison), almost expressionistic movements, turned into jumping that I can only describe as a toddler’s tantrum, and that was it for me. I couldn’t keep a straight face anymore and launched into uncontrollable laughter. I have never been so entertained by someone in an audience before and I just couldn’t control myself anymore.

The great thing about this kind of thing happening at a show is that it changes the connection with an audience and relaxes them into a different vibe. When I was called back for an encore, I decided to replay “Oh Boy” because I couldn’t finish it the first time round, but obviously he came back for round two as well. The audience only fully realised on a second listen how suited the lyrics were to the additional entertainment, which made for even more hilarity, and I barely managed to maintain until the end of the song. I don’t know that I will ever be able to play that song again without thinking back to that little out-of-the-way show in Newcastle. Perhaps you had to be there.


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© Shannon Hope 2017