d Pardon My Juice: Musicians Strike For A Cause

Saturday, December 3

Musicians Strike For A Cause

The members of Harvey Danger laid down their instruments and started a revolution.

"It's been a long, long time coming and they finally decided to lay down the law," said Red Hot Chili Peppers lead singer Anthony Kiedis. "I'm suprised Flea didn't do it. It pisses him off more than anyone I know."

Surely, the moment will go down in Rock 'n Roll lore and insure a place in music history for the otherwise forgettable act most widely known for their single "Flagpole Sitta" released almost nine years ago.

Drunk members of a fraternity in Santa Barbara were attending Harvey Danger's show at a local music venue, Johnny's Flamingo, to support the release of their new album "Little by Little." The 'frat dicks,' as guitarist Jeff Lin called the fraternity members, started shouting "Freebird." After every song was over, when lead singer Sean Nelson was talking, pretty much the whole show, they shouted for "Freebird," Lynard Skynard's 1973 classic song. No one's exactly sure when, but drukenly yelling "Freebird" has become a cliche at concerts across the country.

After six songs, and the men still wouldn't stop after Nelson asked them and started to ignore them, Lin put down his guitar jumped off the stage and walked out of the front door of the club. Aaron Huffman, the bassist, followed soon after. Drummer Evan Sult and Nelson shared an extended look at each other before Sult shrugged, threw his sticks into the audience and followed. Lin then turned to the audience and said, "blame them" pointing at the men shouting "Freebird!"

The owner of the club, Johnny Flamingo, was furious and demanded the act come back and play the rest of their scheduled set, but the group refused. Instead, they drank beer and played darts at a dive bar half a mile away.

Flamingo demanded they pay him what the club lost in 35 minutes of concert revenue and brought a petty claims suit against the band for a total $750.

But then bands, with no connection to Harvey Danger, started striking when hearing concertgoers yell "Freebird." Kiedis read a short article about the Johnny's Flamingo incident in the Los Angeles Times and told the Chili Peppers about it. They agreed that they would join the strike if they heard more than one person shout for "Freebird" during their next concert. A week later, they put down their instruments.

"Every fan I've talked to has been completely with us on this. They agree that the joke, dubious in funniness to begin with, needs to stop. The only people we're going to piss off are drunk 'frat dicks.' And who really cares if we piss of drunk 'frat dicks?" asked Kiedis.

The Chili Peppers, an internationally famous band with numerous hit singles, showing their solidarity with Harvey Danger created a firestorm among touring musicians.

Some balked that a "stupid joke" could cause a protest, some joined in, some used it as an excuse to work less. The band Wilco started playing "Freebird" anytime anyone requested it. In the middle of their 10-minute-long rock opus "Spiders (Kidsmoke)" someone shouted "Freebird." Band leader and guitarist Tweedy exchanged a glance with his drummer and back-up guitarist and gradually shifted to "Freebird." (It instantly became an internet download hit and MTV2 is considering producing a video). Ten minutes lated when playing "I Am The Man Who Love You" someone else shouted it and they completely stopped the song and started the Lynard Skynard anthem.

Club owners and show organizers are increasingly furious at the lost revenue, but legal recourse is looking to be less and less possible. The Recording Artist's Union has supported the strike and the judge threw out Flamingo's case.

At the end of our interview, Kiedis pleaded with the fans of the world: "We'd rather play music than not, but the joke must end now. Now. For the love of God, stop yelling that damn joke."


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