Music | June 5, 2022 2:20 pm

Turns Out Pete Townshend Doesn’t Like It When People Request Songs Live

A profane reaction at a Who concert

The Who
Pete Townshend of The Who performs onstage at Madison Square Garden on May 26, 2022 in New York City.
Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

There’s an art to coming up with the perfect set list, for most musicians. If you’re trying to keep an audience engaged and you have decades’ worth of music to choose from, that task becomes even more challenging. This isn’t to say that some bands or solo artists aren’t up for requests — but generally, putting a set in the hands of others is something confined to specific tours, which bands as disparate as Metallica and Yo La Tengo have experimented with.

All of which is to say that it’s eminently understandable when musicians are less than thrilled when someone shouts out a request — whether it’s the once-ubiquitous call for “Freebird” or a call for a fan’s favorite deep cut. Which brings us to the latest manifestation of this — a video (via Consequence) of The Who’s Pete Townshend losing his temper at someone who repeatedly requested a song.

“Just shut up! I hear you at every f*cking gig,” Townshend said. “We don’t do f*cking requests. No matter how many times I see you… And I love you — you pay for my f*cking Ferrari!” It’s unclear if the “you” referred to a specific audience member who’d done this a lot or if he was speaking more generally.

Nonetheless, it seems like bad form to annoy a member of the band you’ve paid lots of money to see. Had The Who been doing an all-request tour, that’d be one thing — but they were not. And sometimes, there’s a fine line between showing off your knowledge of a band and making a spectacle of yourself.