Sunday, July 6, 2014

Maybe I'm Just Getting Old, But...

Disclaimer: I try not to use a bunch of swears in my blog, just in case you never know who can stumble across this thing, but this post is going to be impossible without them. I will try to keep them to a minimum.

Last night, I went to Seattle to see Chevelle play the Showbox SoDo. And I was extremely disappointed. This was tough for me, because they are one of my favorite bands. So, my analytical brain took over, and I had a think.

Why was this show disappointing for me? I have a few ideas. I hate to sound like Hipster Steve, but... "When I saw them at Pain in the Grass a few years back, they were SO much better." Okay, but "better" is such a relative term. At Pain in the Grass, they really impressed me. I had no idea that a three-peice rock band could sound so heavy and crunchy and powerful. But now, a handful of albums later, they have really solidified their sound... and they have a sort of trademark heaviness. I wasn't blown away partly because I had such high expectations. And in a weird way, they met them. Their live show sounded almost exactly like the albums. And for me, that's actually a bit of a turn off. I feel that an album and a live set should have a different feeling. One should be more raw... involved... connected?... than the other one.

Maybe they brought all their album tricks to the stage--they certainly did use a lot of vocal effects. Maybe they should tone back their albums about 10%--so that seeing them live is like a slap in the face. Either could be true. But honestly, I have felt more amped up rocking out to the same exact songs in my kitchen. I could turn up the bass in my car, max out my stereo, and get a more intense feeling out of it. I've seen mosh pits that were more fun with much fewer people; I've seen crowds more interactive at a Corson Swift show. Don't get me wrong, I was not in my trademark edge-of-the-pit zone, and it's not like people weren't enjoying themselves. But perhaps it's the difference between a punk show and a hard rock or metal (ish) show. Different levels of energy.

When I see a band live, I want them to touch me, I want to feel like breaking things. And I just didn't get that. Maybe I'm getting old. Maybe I was too late to get into the vibe. Maybe the venue was too big--I certainly do like smaller crowds and divey-er bars. The audience for some reason was a huge turn off for me; everyone seemed so old. Maybe everyone recording HD video on their damned phones got to me. Maybe missing the opening bands threw me off.

I can say for sure, if I ever get back into music in any significant way, and I'm in a band that ever takes off in a little way, I have my speech prepared. "Hey you, yeah, you people trying to record the whole show on your cell phones so you can out-hipster everyone else and prove you were there... stop trying to document the show and actually experience it. Try to have fun. You'll remember that better when you look back than just watching some crappy bumpy video you post on YouTube. If you've got a phone held up... go to the freakin back of the room and let the kids who want to have fun dance around."

The one thing that saved this show was the encore. Finally, they played "The Red," for one. For two, some kid made a joke about playing air guitar. So the singer had him come up on stage and told him if he promised to play air guitar for the whole next song, they'd let him. Then he found out the kid played REAL guitar too... and had a roadie bring him the backup guitar. And this kid played on stage with Chevelle. I can only imagine how elated he must have felt (he obviously loved the band).

I envy him that feeling. It made me want to play again. Now, if I only had more hours in the day, or more days in the weekend, I could get back to it. Lately I've found myself singing more, wanting to learn songs again. But I can't imagine a band where I could play all the songs I've ever wanted to cover. No one would come to those shows. And I still can't write from scratch. I wonder if it would be possible to somehow have a band that combines Chevelle and Alkaline Trio... and what that would even sound like.

On another plus side: the boy bought a guitar today. He's intent on using Rocksmith to learn. I have my misgivings, but he's sold on it, so I'll be supportive... I am a little excited to see how this pans out. And just the other day I was thinking about getting a guitar to try and learn some covers. So win-win. 

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