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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Amazing Opening Weekend of Concert Season

Before kicking off this follow-up post to the Amazing Opening Weekend of Concert Season, I need to talk to you kids about something very important: Ear Plugs.

I'm 25 years old and deaf as a post. I'm the kind of deaf where if I'm in a room with many other people, such as a restaurant, or tonight's Art & Soup Celebration (if you missed it tonight, go tomorrow!), then I can only really hear about half of what you say to me, unless you are yelling at me. So that means the other half of the time I do that little nod that shows you that I'm acknowledging what you are saying... even though I have no clue what it is. Sometimes I retrospectively figure out what you said. But sometimes that also means I miss a really great opportunity to say something brilliant. Because I'm just brimming with brilliance, my friends, but timing can make or break that brilliance.

And all this could have been prevented if only I had taken hearing loss seriously and worn ear plugs to the many many loud concerts I had attended over the past 8 or so years. These days, I never go to a show without them, even a small acoustic show. Because most acoustic shows are actually plugged in, and sound guys are so utterly incompetent around here (and possibly everywhere else, too) that they think loud=great sound. But the truth is that they are covering up their incompetence by cranking up the volume. Cause if they actually knew what they were doing, they could achieve the right balance at a reasonable amplitude. My favorite idiocy is when sound guys think they need to mic the drum set. Yeah, cause no one's gonna hear it otherwise. And thanks to idiot sound guys, there are certain frequencies I will never hear again.

Seriously, guys, I was also one of those bratty little 18 year olds who laughed at all the old fogey 25+ year olds wearing ear plugs. I thought hearing loss was something only people in their 70's had to deal with. Surely I wouldn't lose any hearing. If only my 25 year old self could run into my 18 year old self, give her a good slap across the face and then shove some damn ear plugs in her ears. Maybe then I wouldn't have to stare at people with a stupid grin while trying to figure out what the hell they just said to me.

Sure, you can ask someone to repeat themselves. But when you still don't know what they said after the second time, you just start faking it, and pretty soon, faking it is the norm.

So please, wear earplugs. It may be too late for the six year old standing in front of me at Linkin Park, but it might not be too late for you. Trust me, your future self will thank you.

Now back to our regularly scheduled post...

Three exhausting nights in a row, three $9 beers, six earplugs, and a couple hundred bucks later...

and I can conclude a few things:

  • Tally Hall is perhaps the most amazing band I have ever seen live. I mean, I knew they were good after the first time I saw them open for Guster, but this show was ten times more incredible. Every member of the band contributes to the band's sound. You don't ask yourself, "Why do they have two guitar players?" or "Why even bother with a keyboardist?" Everyone is important. I wouldn't be surprised if they were a bunch of band geek music majors who decided to start up a band out of college. Their performance is tight and together, as if they actually know about keeping time rather than just playing what feels right, which is all the more impressive since the songs themselves are intricate, often flowing from one style seemlessly into another.

    The highlight of the amazing show was when they unplugged their instruments and came to sit in the middle of the audience to perform a two-song encore. Here's a picture taken from my shitty camera phone. I put little white arrows to show where the members of Tally Hall are, since it otherwise just looks like an ugly mass of people.

    This pretty much made my night, oh but wait, it gets better! If you've been reading Bunsnip for a while, you'll know that I absolutely hate the whole tradition of encores. I think it's a pretentious waste of time. With one caveat, however: if the encore is a true encore, meaning that the audience was blown away and simply NEEDED to hear more, and weren't just clapping for the sake of the encore tradition, then THAT is something special. And that's what happened at Tally Hall. In fact, for their original acoustic "encore", they never even went backstage, they just told us they were playing a two song encore, and then after the set, they climbed down into the audience. But after that, the audience willed them out for another song! A true encore at last! Pure bliss.

  • Coheed & Cambria is a studio band. Their albums are awesome (although I admit the latest one seriously had to grow on me, and I still don't consider it as good as the earlier three), but they struggle live. At least they have a difficult time when they play an electric show in a large venue. Maybe it's an issue with bad monitors, or maybe they just seriously need to take their asses out to the woodshed and drill their songs under their fingers.

    As a nice surprise, Claudio and Co. appeared at Graywhale in the afternoon for a short, slightly acoustic set. Ian and I made the trek out there an hour or two early to make sure we got a good view of the stage. And that we did:
    There's Claudio no more than 15 feet away from us, rocking our socks off.

    But for the evening show, Claudio let his great hair down and also let me down with his lackluster performance. I'm starting to think the first time I ever saw them was a complete and utter fluke in how amazing it was. Maybe the whole band had been kissed by faeries in the night, and the magic made them bring down the Great SaltAir. In any case, I keep going to these shows because I want so desperately to recapture that night. But I just keep on being disappointed.

    And, I didn't know you had to get a stupid wrist band in order to guarantee that Claudio would autograph your CD. So I didn't even get him to rub his John Hancock all over my Prize Fighter Inferno Justice Card. And that makes me very sad :(

  • Linkin Park kicks ass live! Who knew, right? I certainly didn't. This was the band I was least interested in seeing out of the whole weekend, and they ended up being my second favorite act. I mean, I've always had a passive appreciation for Linkin Park, but I didn't think it worthwhile to pay $60 to see them in concert. (So it's a damn good thing they put on an awesome show, because if I had blown that $60 on another lackluster CoCa performance, I'd have had to assign a conservator over my concert fund.)

    This was the first show of the entire weekend in which I actually felt like I could get up and dance(and it was the last show, btw, so thank god for the danceability). I had a great time, and I think I would see them again if they came back.

    Here's the Linkin Park duo rockin it on the convenient projector screen:

  • Matchbox 20's new stuff hearkens back to their first album (yay!), and Rob Thomas is actually a really good performer. He has stage presence and charisma, much like Billy Corgan, but obviously in a completely different style.

    The great thing about MB20's set was that I experienced the one thing that keeps me shelling out money to go to concerts: a spiritual connection to the music. That's when you are so tuned in to the music that you sort of forget about everything else for the duration of the song. Your feelings are intensified, and the whole experience is like a high. I achieved that during one of the songs from the first album -- an album I still consider a classic as far as 90's alternative goes. But it was surprisingly not one of my favorite songs from the album, and unfortunately I can't remember its name. But anyway, as with all things ephemeral, the moment is gone.

  • Alanis Morrisette met my every expectation, but in the future I would like to be closer to the stage. Sovknight and I were up in the stratosphere section, and Alanis looked like a little GI Joe from our perspective. And that's why I don't have any pictures from the Alanis/MB20 show.

    I would like to be close enough to see her face when she sings, because she pulls some really great facial expressions. I'd also like to be close enough to feel the mesmerizing effect of her compulsive pacing from one corner of the stage to the other.

All in all, it was a great weekend that I'd gladly repeat. Though probably no more than once a month. My wallet and body couldn't take that much heat.

There are already some great shows on my Calendar for April and May:

Palomino @ Velour Apr 12
Mike Doughty @ Urban Apr 24
The Swell Season @ Depot May 2

Oh yes, this concert season is definitely off to a great start!

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Sovknight said...

I agree with your assessment of the concert season so far, at least from my perspective. I thoroughly enjoyed Matchbox Twenty, and I expected to, as I've seen them before and this show was even better. Yes, it would have been nice to be a little closer to the stage, especially for the Alanis set, but a good show is a good show regardless. Likin Park was good as well, and I enjoyed the C&C set, although I do believe as you believe that they are a studio band, and their live performance lacks something. Call it practice maybe, but that's a guess. We did have ok-ish seats for that one, although it was still far too loud. Oh, and the kid in front of us did have earplugs.

I was envious.

Sra said...

Oh good, I'm glad that kid had earplugs. It was a really loud show, even with earplugs in. It's too bad you forgot to bring yours. After having a few ringing ear nights in my less wise days, I never go to a show without them now.

Loralee Choate said...

It's an increasing problem. I worry about hearing loss because of my many performances over the years standing behind orchestras.

Plus, I really cranked my music in the car.

When I was in the communcative disorders dept. they said how audiology is going to be more and more in demand as we see the effects of over use of headphones and just noise in general.

I'm really sorry about your hearing . It makes me sad.

Sarah Bellum said...

I'm very against encores as well. Play set, end concert. That's really all I ask. And not sucking is a bonus.

tennessee mike said...

Mike Doughty!!!

Sra said...

Loralee: Yes, I wonder what it will be like when the ipod generation reaches its 20's and 30's. Thank god we live in the future, and one day ear drum transplants will be possible. Don't feel too bad about my hearing. I can still hear better than my parents, for instance. But I really can tell the difference between how I hear now and how I heard 10 years ago. I really didn't think loud concerts could be that bad. Stupid youth.

Sarah: Amen.

Mike: I know, right! Pleasing.

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