Have you ever been to a rock show where the front person spent the first ten minutes explaining, in an oddly strummy fashion, how to behave during the concert? Be courteous. Be kind. Be forgiving. And so forth.
And you’re thinking, wait, did I make a wrong turn and end up a spectator in a golf tournament?
You’re still digesting the bacon grenades you ate at Kaiser Tiger a few minutes earlier, thinking to yourself, when the heck is the music going to start? And at the same time, something tells you to let the monologue continue, as you’re not feeling so well post-grenades and a Polish kielbasa sandwich. No one wants to find his fellow rock show patron planting elbows in random eye sockets when he’s feeling ill from too much midwestern pork indulgence. And anyway, elbows in eye sockets are usually delivered courtesy large males, who have been confounding America with their girth and height for years, requiring patriots like you to wear big shoes so you can see the band.
More specifics: Patrick Stickles’ long and relatively boring diatribe to start the set of his band Titus Andronicus fell largely on deaf (large male) ears at The Bottom Lounge, a short walk from where my friends and I had overindulged on Belgian Fries, German Beer and the aforementioned pork products, such that once the band got revved up, the elbows where flying and craniums were getting flung back and forth in total disregard for my personal safety. I kept my distance from the senseless violence, lest I find myself with a case of CTE.
Despite the lecture and subsequent disregard for proper behavior, I would call this one of the best punk rock shows I’ve ever seen. Knowing almost none of the music except what I had crammed in during my long commute from the outer edges of southwestern Boston to Chicago’s West Town neighborhood, I can assure you that it mattered not, as the band’s penchant for loud and boisterous rock made knowledge of the music secondary, if not entirely irrelevant.
The show wasn't without casualties. A fellow to my left, thoroughly meaning to stay out of the mosh pit, caught a roundhouse skull to the nose and left bleeding. Poor guy.
If Mike Doughty had been on stage the music would have ended right then and there, as Doughty means it when he says no slam dancing. But this was no M. Doughty, so despite the nosebleed, Titus Andronicus played on.
You’ve never seen the band Antibalas, but that’s because you’re not managing your rock show life carefully enough. A less generous person might even say that you’re being lazy. Just because you’re in your 50s, it’s a weeknight, and you have two elementary school kids, what, you can’t see a band? Sorry to hear that you’re “tired.” The rest of us are tired as well, but we’re willing to go the extra mile to see a multicultural Afro-beat group with a great vibe and not a little bit of “pay back Africa” attitude.
The way you apparently can’t go to rock shows these days reminds me of how you “can’t ride a bike to work” because you don’t want to arrive at the office sweaty. Hey, I arrive at the office sweaty all the time, and by the looks I get I can tell you that my office colleagues love it! Similarly, I see bands all the time (i.e. 3 times a year), and do you know the kind of Twitter traffic I get?
Let me put it to you this way: I have no idea. Because I don’t tweet. But, as I stated in a previous post, in the future I’m going to tweet the living daylights out of you and everyone else in the world. Kim Jong Trump and I are going to battle for tweeting supremacy, and I’m going to kick their butts.
One thing I learned from the Antibalas show: there are many more of you tired/lazy middle aged guys out there than there are of me and my friend Mark, such that Antibalas didn’t sell out the Paradise Rock Club. If I had to guess (or, rather, since I have to guess), they could have fit another 400 people into the little venue. I’m not complaining; Mark was late and the sparse attendance meant that he could slip right up front to where I was without anyone stressing out, and midway through the show I could make a beer run. Not that I drink beer.
My friend Steve wrote a dissertation (and by that I don’t mean just a long and boring ax-grinding diatribe, but an actual Ph.D. dissertation) in which he observed that racial integration in the workplace existed in the form of jazz and other bands, where there was a long history of blacks and whites working together. Antibalas is an excellent example of that kind of interracial cooperation.
Come to think of it, the racial makeup of Antibalas reminds me a little of the band Defunkt, which I saw a few times back in the day. On the very unlikely chance that you never had a chance to see Defunkt, here they playing a concert in Germany in 1984.
I’m trying to remember how many times I’ve seen the band Spoon, and if my mind isn’t playing tricks on me, it’s about 100 times. OK, more like 7. Although Tim, with whom I’ve seen almost every show, claims to remember about 4, which means he is wrong. What about the Esplanade? What about Northampton?
Not to mention the Roxy, where they sold the place out and yet somehow it remained sparsely crowded. Even Britt Daniel scratched his head about that one, noting aloud, “this is sold out?!” I heard afterward that the owners of the Roxy and the city were in some kind of battle, and the city was punishing the club by seriously curtailing the number of tickets that could be sold. I’m almost certainly misinformed about that, but something was up that limited the gate (not demand.)
Here’s the thing about Spoon: they became popular with Gimme Fiction and Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, but my two favorite albums are their first and second. (Agreed, that’s not something about Spoon as much as it is something about me.) And unfortunately, they never play songs from those records anymore. Their second album is called A Series of Sneaks, and I have half a mind (or three quarters or maybe even 19/20ths of a mind) to message Britt Daniel and say, “You should do a few shows where you play A Series of Sneaks from beginning to end.” (In my town).
And he’ll laugh with great gusto!
He wouldn’t even play “Quincy Punk Episode” when I saw them at the House of Blues, despite his having heard me yell out for him to do so. I want to see this performed live before I leave this planet:
As this is the time of year when we citizens gather up our documents to ascertain whether we have more taxes to pay or are due a refund, it’s only natural for a person to lift his spirits by cranking the tunes during the unhappy process. Classic Rock stations play George Harrison’s “Taxman” over and over on April 15, but to my mind there is a more apropos tax-themed song, especially if you don’t happen to agree with the current administration in power (or didn’t agree with it in 2004, when we were mired in an elective foreign war). Go ahead and find me a better pick-me-up song that this one, by Sharon Jones:
In a hugely unfortunate stroke of ridiculous bad luck, we humans lost the incomparable Sharon Jones last fall (at just sixty years of age for crying out loud!) to that damnable pancreatic cancer. (Remind me not to get that one, as it’s quick and unforgiving). She was just getting a foothold on the music world; friends of mine had passed up opportunities to see her because they figured that there were plenty of opportunities in the future. Just like there are plenty of opportunities for me to see PJ Harvey. Like two weeks from now. Except, wait, I’ll be in Italy when she next appears in Boston. Why the hell does it never work out?
As much as I pity the world for its loss of Sharon Jones (sorry, you ol’ world), I feel a little worse for the Dap-Kings, who had found the perfect front person for their groovy sound, and now must be scratching their heads about what to do next. If they happen to tour again, with some other front person, or just on their own, I strongly encourage you to see them, as they have a great sound and surely could use a pick-me-up, after having donated so many pick-me-ups of their own over the years.
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