GRAND RAPIDS TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Less than a full day after singer Ray LaMontagne aimed a profanity-laced rant at concert attendees and then stormed off the stage at Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, several audience members say that while they may not agree with how the singer handled the situation, they understand why.
Despite the mini meltdown, Kayliegh Bothee relived the concert’s music on Thursday.
“I get why he got so mad,” she said. “You’re trying to concentrate on putting on the best show for people who paid money to see you and you’re distracted by someone who’s talking. If someone is on stage and the artist is telling you to be quiet, I think it’s a pretty big deal that maybe you should take that into consideration.”
Bothee said that she and her fiancée were also in the front of the crowd, only a few feet away from the couple LaMontagne yelled at, Shawn Virgo and his fiancée.
Bothee said the other couple was talking loudly for awhile. She said the stand-up bass player in the band repeatedly shushed the couple before LaMontagne said anything.
“They were talking, and they were on their phones – we noticed a couple of times – and like I said, the upright bass player kept like going ‘Shh.. quiet down! Ray is going to get pissed off at you,’ and then LaMontagne just blew his lid, which I think is understandable.”
LaMontagne then swore at Virgo, left the stage, and said he wouldn’t come back until the couple left.
“He looked at them and swore,” Bothee said. “Told them that if they wanted to talk they should just go home and put a record on and f-ing talk over that instead, and then he put down his guitar and said he’s not coming out until they left.”
Virgo told 24 Hour News 8 following the Wednesday concert that he and his fiancée had merely been discussing one of LaMontagne’s songs which they planned to have played at their upcoming wedding.
“As we were listening to all of the songs, during one of the sets we were talking about how excited we were and Ray walked off stage or told us in front of the stage that he was very upset that we were talking during a song,” Virgo said. “He said a few F words [and] that he would be leaving the set and he wouldn’t be coming back until we were gone, so we were escorted out by security.”
Virgo said he and his fiancée aren’t seeking a refund, but instead, an apology.
“We were very upset. We called our parents right away, we told all of our friends how upset we were,” Virgo said. “It was going to be the first song that we danced to, and it really hurt us, the fact that we were escorted out and humiliated.”
The comments from viewers on WOOD TV8’s Facebook page over the incident seemed to be fairly evenly split as to who should be doing the apologizing.
“I hope that this doesn’t ruin [LaMontgane’s] experience to come back here because the Gardens is such an awesome venue,” Bothee said.
24 Hour News 8 learned Thursday that incident at Meijer Gardens wasn’t the first time LaMontagne has taken talking audience members to task. Past videos are easy to find on YouTube.
In a statement, Frederik Meijer Gardens said, in part, that the “on-stage interchange” was an “unfortunate situation during an otherwise great concert.”
The Gardens’ spokesperson said that Virgo and his fiancée didn’t have to leave and they could have moved to a different part of the venue, but they chose to leave instead.
24 Hour News 8 also reached out to LaMontagne’s manager but didn’t hear back Thursday.
Full statement from Frederik Meijer Gardens:
“The on-stage interchange between Ray LaMontagne and two guests who were talking during last night’s concert was an unfortunate situation during an otherwise great concert. We have been in contact with the couple, who were cooperative and apologized for talking and disrupting the concert. Although we offered to move them to another part of the venue, they chose to leave on their own. We sincerely apologize to all of our guests for this disruption.”