Sunday, July 13, 2008

People often list their all-time favorite concerts, but I don't know if I can do the same. I'm not much for concerts. I recognize there's a certain energy and spontaneity to live music, but pardon my cynicism, it often means paying way too much money to stand around and listen to songs performed exactly the way you've heard them on the album, only in an over-amplified sound system. And then don't get me started on the other concert-goers.

Which makes it easier for me to list my worst -- or perhaps most frustrating -- concert experience.

It was some time in the '80s. I went to NYC's Beacon Theatre to see Leon Redbone. He's a jazz/blues artist who plays old standards without much fanfare, just his Panama hat, dark shades, mustache and soul patch, mysterious background, and tons of talent and style. Perhaps you had seen him on old Saturday Night Live episodes, or in a series of Budweiser commercials.

But Redbone was the opening act. The headliner was Steven Wright. The comedian was also big from his SNL appearances and I enjoyed his routine, but not enough to see him perform live. As expected, he did the exact same jokes that had made him famous, and considering the deadpan delivery, there was nothing new to the experience. We could practically recite his one-liners along with him. ("It's a small world, but I wouldn't want to paint it.") Maybe that's the audience participation is half the fun, but I feel that it enforced my stance on the senselessness of going to most concerts.

What really pissed me off is that these sheep who were there to see Wright had absolutely no consideration for the warm-up act. Leon Redbone was infinitely more interesting and entertaining. I could barely hear him with crowd talking so loudly and walking in and out of their seats during his performance. I wanted to kill these obnoxious inconsiderate assholes. By the time the main act hit the stage, I started developing a Steven Wright-like gag of my own:

The problem with seeing people live is that it makes want to see people dead.


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