Thursday, November 8, 2007

I am Having Fun Yet

It’s been five months since I’ve been able to do any cooking and I’m jonesing hard. It is so essential an expression for me and ties in so with everything that matters. The other thing that keeps me on kilter, and is integral for me being in the world on many levels, is music. I listen to music during most of my waking hours and have spent an inordinate amount of time tweaking my Launchcast Radio station so that it plays plenty of old favorites and occasionally exposes me to a worthy newcomer. My kids expose me to the best (and sometimes the worst) of urban music but from the idiosyncratic domain of alternative rock I reside in, there is very little new stuff that I like and I purchase very few cds and practically none recorded by bands who haven’t been on my radar for at least a decade. Yet I remain open to hearing young voices that rock my soul.

In the last few days I have attended four concerts. I saw Yo La Tengo once by myself and then caught two additional shows with Himself, who wrote a much more in depth and insightful review on his blog than I wrote on mine. I have discussed frequently here my connections with people through music, frequently and mercilessly excoriating poor Broderick Miller and often dismissing my husband’s preferences for being strictly “above the waist.” Drugs (especially psychedelics) influence much of what he listens to but his predilections are, for the most part, not fraught with sex and soul and booze the way mine are. My husband is a rock ‘n roll intellectual and I am a cheap whore. While he was a good sport about the Yo La Tengo overdose I knew not even to ask him about The Hold Steady and instead conned Barry J. into accompanying me.

Before the show, we made musical confessions. His: Uriah Heep, Humble Pie. Mine more along the lines of Judy Collins and other off key pretentious folkie crap. We mourned the heartbreak we’d been meted by Phil Collins and Rod Stewart and compared Springsteen periods. I am more E Street and Barry more Nebraska. I confessed to never really getting Patty Smith and I surmise that Barry has not given the Replacements/Westerberg a fair shake and he admitted to being unfamiliar with Husker Du.

I worry about the music I love the best though. Yo La Tengo are critical darlings and have been playing and recording for years. We have seen them twice at the El Rey, a number of years ago and the room was jammed. This weekend, although there were three shows, they failed to sell out the ultra tiny (200 seats?) Ivar Theatre. The Hold Steady was Blender’s band of the year and their three cds have received unanimous high praise. They were originally scheduled to play at the Wiltern but the show was changed at the last minute to the much smaller Music Box at the Fonda Theatre. Even with the change to a venue about 75% smaller, the show did not sell out and was so sparsely attended that the balcony wasn’t even opened. The audience was tepid and except for a few hard core fans at the stage, pretty disengaged. This pisses me off because it was a great show. Maybe even a show that will be compared one day to Springsteen at the Roxy at the beginning of his career. Unless Barry was being polite or in an altered state due to the beer we swilled on empty stomachs and tried to blot up with licorice Altoids, I think he really saw and heard what I saw and heard, that rare spark of new and good.

Frontman, Craig Finn is an extraordinary force of nature. Even my asshole husband admitted that his lyrics weave astonishing wry dark stories. It was the Springteenishness on the record that was the big turn off to him, but live, Finn sort of channels Pee Wee Herman and Jerry Lewis, juggled with the earnest elegance of Elvis Costello. I’m sure there are 10,0000 locals who would swear they were in one of the hundred seats at the legendary Springsteen Roxy in 1975. The Hold Steady put on a show I’m sure that I’ll remember energetically if I’m alive in 30 years. I wonder if others will wistfully lie about having been there, or if the music I love is becoming, and destined to become more, irrelevant. Sigh. At least I’ll be able to get back to some serious cooking early next year.

1 comment:

harry said...

I actually was in at the Roxy in 1975 when BS walked across my table... I'd be lying to say I remember the song. So I've had the sweat pour off the brows of Bruce and Bono and am annointed with their oils to say I think the Hold Steady, like cargo cults in New Guinea, keep alive a passion that is passing from the earth with each numbing product roll-out and ruthless public offering of corporate soma. Well, could be, no? Rust never sleeps.

I envy your concert going.