Monday, September 28, 2009

Open Letter to People who Need to Shush and/or Sit The Hell Down

Last week, HA scored us free tickets to a taping of SPECTACLE: ELVIS COSTELLO WITH... at the legendary Apollo Theater in Harlem. I gather that usually, they have only one guest. Elvis interviews them and then they play. But this was a Very Special Episode with four guests. He said many times that they were building a band right before our eyes. (Interview guest #1, play a song, bring out guest #2, play a song with guests 1 and 2, rinse and repeat.)

It was an amazing show and they brought the house down with a rendition of Take a Load Off by The Band, so when this thing airs later this fall, you should totally watch it. I'll be watching it if for no other reason so that I can enjoy the show without the distraction of all the people who scored seats up front, but then didn't feel the need to remain in them, even though we were filming a TV show and they were told that they had to stay put so that there weren't gaps in the audience.

Truly, this is a situation for going to the bathroom beforehand and not for bringing in 2 beers per person from the bar. The majority of the audience was on board with this, but far too many were not.

We were in the back on the aisle, where we had a great view of the stage. Right next to us were 2 energetic young people in headsets who leapt into action every time someone got up. They'd tell the person that they'd be seated somewhere else when they came back and then they'd move people from the back into their spot. I was very tense for these people, but also for myself since there was a chance that they'd ask us to move up. One guy who we'd spoken to on the line outside helped them out by moving several times and was even thrown out of his new seat by the guy who had just abandoned it. And, oh the headset people were pissed when that happened. Sadly, they were filming, so their wrath couldn't be mighty. Instead, it was quiet and expressed amongst themselves.

So those are the people who need to sit the hell down. The people who need to shush, zip it and then zip it some more were the many music geeks in the audience.

And there was a greater than average amount of music geeks because the first guest was Richard Thompson. What's that? You've never heard of Richard Thompson. That would be because NO ONE has ever heard of Richard Thompson. Except for detail obsessed music geeks.

(Disclaimer: although HA is a music geek and is a Richard Thompson fan, he's not one of THOSE music geeks and wants those other guys to shut up too so he can hear the people on stage. he's not interested in hearing how smart you think you are, either.)

Yeah, so Richard Thompson is a singer/songwriter who's actually quite good, though he seems to have a habit of playing 3 encores whenever we don't have seats. If it's a standing only venue, he's there to play all night. If there are actual chairs, he plays one set and a modest encore. I solved that problem by refusing to see him unless there were seats involved.

But despite his considerable talent, Richard Thompson has remained mostly unknown. If you want to impress/scare away a music know-it-all, then mention him. If that doesn't do the trick, mention Fairport Convention, the band he was in in the 60s. Your knowledge of these things will prove that you have the bigger dick. And believe me, these guys are all about showing off how big their dicks of musical knowledge are. If you really want to hurt their feelings, tell them that you think Richard Thompson is overrated. It'll break their brains. And they will deserve it.

Throughout the entire concert, these guys will subject their friends and anyone who can hear them to a running commentary about who designed that drum or who played the triangle on the original recording of that song or something else that no one but them cares about. They will also shout out to the people on stage while they're talking, as if they're going to become part of the conversation. And they request songs even when it's clear that the impromptu band only rehearsed a few songs.

Even Richard Thompson knows what blowhards some of his fans are. When asked who his musical influences are, he named more and more obscure guitarists. Some people cheered in recognition of each name. He said that he named the last one, "to see how pretentious you all are."

One other time, HA took me to see the dB's reunion concert. Yeah, I never heard of them until HA came along, either. This concert was a big deal and they decided to reunite their high school and college bands as opening acts. The high school band was called The Sneakers. One guy we were standing near told his friends that he'd never seen The Sneakers before, as if they weren't a high school band from the 70s who had most likely performed for a few hundred people in their entire career.

Pretentious twat.

The other guests were Alan Toussaint, who is from the early days of rock n roll and is awesome, Nick Lowe, who is a bass player and songwriter and Levon Helm, the drummer from The Band, who really is amazing. Alan had produced an album of The Band's and said that Levon plays the drums sideways.

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