Tuesday, July 19, 2005

The Thrill is Gone

Saw Lyle Lovett at Red Rocks recently. Lyle is, of course, a national treasure. When we are all dust in the wind, his stuff will still be in rotation on whatever the public transmission medium is of the day. The concert was excellent, natch, so praising it would be like saying ice cream is good. And something happened that I've never seen before at a concert: The entire audience was in reverential silence for the quiet part of a sad song. Usually you hear the low rumble of voices of folks talking through a song they don't know or like. But, twice during Lyle's show the song drops to a whisper, and not a freakin peep from the audience. That's an entertainer, my friends.

Shawn Colvin opened for him, she of the hit "Sunny Came Home." Well, it was just her and her guitar, and she didn't play the hit. Underwhelming doesn't quite come up to describing the experience. It was essentially no different than those girls who brought their guitar to church camp and crooned John Denver songs; pleasant in the moment, but about as memorable as a glass of water. Folks, I know it might be boring to play your hit after a while, but when someone lays out $50 just to get in the door, probably popped for parking too, and has skinned of $7 for a single beer - uh - PLAY THE FUCKING SONG! Damnit anyway. And would it kill ya to drag along a second guitarist or just a bassist?

Nonetheless, I enjoyed myself when Lyle did his thang. Well, the couple songs I didn't are merely acknowledged gaps in my taste. I've really never dug the gospel choir thing. I don't actively dislike it; it just does nothing for me. The whole rest of the crowd was on their feet holy rolling along, and the folks I was with looked down at me like, "What's wrong with you? This is where we're supposed to stand up! It's the gospel choir part!" Yeah, well, whatever flips up your skirt dudes. I'll wait for "It Ought to Be Easier."

My wife has coined something I think is quite wise, she says that a lot of the grief and angst we experience arises from expectations that aren't met. So, when dealing with people, if we can work out what our expectations are with each other, that will immediately relieve a lot of the strife. When approaching a situation, the more realistic your expectations, the better your experience will be, even if it's a bad one. There are many permutations and exceptions to this, of course, but for now the main assertion is all we need.

When I have to lay down a grand total of $80 for something, I expect (there's the word) it to be pretty transcendent. When someone as good as Lyle just doesn't get there, I begin to wonder if it's a function of my age, or if it is just too expensive for what you get. Given my love of music, I'm going to err on the side of the latter, because if tickets were $30 or less, and they at least allowed you to carry your own water into the show, I wouldn't even think of grousing. But it's so clearly tattooed on the experience that if you wanna play, you gotta pay. Starting with $5 for a bottled water.

I suspect there aren't many more live concerts in my future if things don't change.


Anonymous said...

Well, I love "alt-country", but I don't like Lyle Lovett that much, think he's overrated, so your mileage may vary here. But I've had a lot of transcendent experiences at live shows for tickets that cost $20 or less, with $3 beer plentiful. Typically evening shows at small indoor venues are the best -- big summer concerts from people like Lyle Lovett are often a little, well, too yuppie. The key is the musicians making an intense connection with the crowd and the crowd pushing them up to the next level, where they are transported by the music and want to leave it all on stage. Happens best in small venues, sometimes with more obscure bands. I saw a GREAT concert from Los Lobos last year, for example, where exactly that process happened.

Anonymous said...

P.S. needless to say it also helps to drink, not get pounded really but to loosen those inhibitions. How many beers did you have? Two is a minimum.

I'm another middle aged white guy, same demographic.

jon said...

After we paid for our kids military summer camp we found it tough to recover! I totally agree with you!