Five Memorable Artist-Audience Altercations

Wilco's Jeff Tweedy in a much better mood, March 2008
Wilco's Jeff Tweedy in a much better mood, March 2008
Chris Gray

There may be a very good reason Van Morrison said practically nothing from the stage Saturday night at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion. Judging from the plentiful comments here, here and over at the Chronicle's review, it would have been difficult for the grizzled Irish poet/musician/mystic to get a word in edgewise. Sentiment seems to be running about five to one that the 65-year-old Morrison should have said "hello," played more of "the old stuff" - or more old stuff people recognized, anyway - and come out for an encore despite already playing a longer set than most musicians less than half his age. (Phoenix, for example.) But whatever slight, real or perceived, Saturday's audience may be feeling is nothing compared to the following five incidents, all of which also happened in Texas. Rocks Off was at three of them, and the other two have long since rightfully passed into Lone Star rock and roll legend.

Jeff Tweedy Loses It: In April 2005, Wilco hadn't played Houston in a decade when the band finally came through Verizon on its way to Jazzfest, and front man Jeff Tweedy's behavior early on left a lot of people wondering why Wilco had even bothered to book a show here at all. Besides chiding the home folks for letting fans from Austin and Dallas fill up half the sold-out theater, Tweedy didn't take kindly to audience requests: When she wouldn't stop yelling for "The Lonely 1," he told a woman down front to "shut the fuck up," which brought "Reservations" to a screeching halt and literally sucked the air out of the room for a few seconds. Later explaining he was frustrated by monitor difficulties and having a hard time quitting smoking, Tweedy and Wilco eventually redeemed themselves with a ripping encore that included "The Late Greats," "Kingpin" and "I'm a Wheel." "I think we're in the right place," he told another sold-out Verizon crowd three years later.

Greg Dulli Gets Bounced: Unless, perhaps, you were a woman who happened to catch his fancy (as one of Rocks Off's former high-school classmates once did), former Afghan Whigs front man and notorious alt-rock lothario Greg Dulli could hardly be described as warm and cuddly. Still, it was hard not to feel at least a little sympathy for him when an altercation with a bouncer at Austin's Liberty Lunch following a December 1998 show on the Whigs' 1965 tour landed the singer in the hospital with a serious head injury. Depending on who you believe, the bouncer either attacked Dulli completely unprovoked or only after the head Whig came at him with a 2X4. In the ensuing lawsuit that was eventually dropped after Liberty Lunch went out of business in Summer 1999, one of the few things not in dispute was that the band and club staff had been on each other's shit lists since the Whigs showed up for sound check earlier that afternoon. The Whigs never made another album, but Dulli eventually reemerged with the just-as-soulful Twilight Singers and then the Gutter Twins with ex-Screaming Tree Mark Lanegan. The lawsuit, meanwhile, lives on as a case study at the University of Texas' School of Law.

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