Monday, May 01, 2006

The Weekend in Review: Politics in Remission

Unlike about 95% of recent weekends, I actually interacted with humanity this past weekend and experienced some things I deem blogworthy (high praise that). To wit:

  • Friday Night: Went to see Albuquerque High School's production of Eric Bogosian's "SubUrbia" and was impressed on two fronts:
    • 1. The production was unexpurgatedly there in all its Bogosianistic bad language and misogyny. I was surprised a bit given that it was a high school production, and very glad as messing with Bogosian's speaking cadences and brutal character satire would leave the work largely meaningless.
    • 2. The acting was good! I don't mean that in a bad way, but I think we'll all been at at least one high school production where the acting evoked nothing but cringing. No cringing here. And no, I'm not just saying that because they were all ex-students of mine. Only one ex-student in a fine, well-trained cast. Thanks for a good time AHS Drama!
  • Saturday Night: Took the Missus on a birthday dinner to Ambrozia. I think I wrote somewhere sometime back that I thought Ambrozia is the best restaurant in Albuquerque. To a degree I'm still debating, I'm revising that after our experience Saturday night. Still adventurous food done in interesting styles, but not the knockout food as performance I've experienced in previous trips. Service wasn't up to the usual standard, either, something I usually avoid talking about because I know I would be the absolute worst waiter in dining history. Let's just say the service matched the food for a general air of lackadaisicality. Not awful but missing a certain energy.
  • Rest of Saturday Night: Did not go to "Spring Crawl". I don't know that I'll ever be going to one of those again unless I decide to pursue that Ph.D. in Sociology centering on pack attitudes of drunken young humans in Western cultures.
  • Sunday Night: After the usual hemming and hawing of the aged toward going out to hear live music, the Missus and I decided to see the Son Volt/Drive-by-Truckers show at the El Rey.
    • Perhaps some readers know about the hemming-hawing process in this regard. One starts out saying, "definitely man, I am definitely there for the show!". This turns to "yeah, we're going...I'm pretty sure we're going" and then almost invariably leads to "oh, we decided not to go. You know, it was a school night, and the El Rey sucks and standing up is hard on my back...etc. etc. etc.". This pattern is followed religiously for about 55 shows in a row, but every once in a while the aging couple breaks the cycle, demonstrates their inner freaky child and ends up attending the gig.
    • Alot of aging couples who go through this cycle were at the Son Volt/Drive-by-Truckers gig. I overheard at least three sets of folks saying "oh, we only get out to shows every other year or so".
    • Another sign of aging couples breaking the cycle: massive numbers of ear plugs.
    • Another sign: lots of folks leaving by midset of the 'Truckers (who were closing).
  • As for the music itself, we made it just as Son Volt hit the stage and by the time Jay Farrar & Associates left said stage my accompanying friends and I had decided not only the proper course of psycho-counseling for Mr. Farrar, but also that he should stop touring, put the drummer front and center of the stage instead of himself, and that he should immediately accept our offer to create a Jeff Tweedy reunion concert tour in which both guys play all the tunes on "Anondyne" acoustically, in order of CD appearance. Seriously, Farrar's was a sad set, not from the mournful, soulful tunes, but from the simple fact that Farrar doesn't enjoy playing live and has zilch chemistry with the latest incarnation of Son Volt. By the time Farrar and the disengaged backing band got to the big hits of "Trace" I was almost crying from the obvious pain the whole outfit was experiencing in playing these years old tunes as if they were on "The Perry Como Show" or something. It was the opposite of nostalgia.
  • Then there were the Drive-by-Truckers (DBT). The Missus and I saw DBT at Burt's Tiki Lounge in 2000, and the difference in ambiance between seeing them from a distance of about 15 feet six years ago and the Tingley-esque acoustics of El Rey last night was from one end of the Ambiance-o-Meter to the other. God the El Rey sucks. People talk about this town not having a really good 5,000 seat arena, but I'm more concerned with having a really good large bar with sound acoustics. It would also help if said large bar wouldn't give the impression that someone could be inexplicably killed in one of the dark corners at any time.
  • Okay, enough about the El Rey and my lame memory lane trip about DBT at Burt's. The important thing is that, despite the venue, DBT rocks. Having them close instead of Son Volt was probably controversial to many folks in attendance, and the way people were clearing out indicated a lack of interest in sticking around to hear the DBT tunes. At the same time, many of the folks who left were the aging couple types, and they were probably only there for Son Volt anyway.
  • The drifting off of large hunks of folks actually had a positive impact on the show, however. Shorn of their wishy-washy brethren, the remaining audience found a new energy in smaller numbers and got more rowdy and more fun. DBT members, such as head honcho guy Patterson Hood, had been drinking Jack Daniels and Amstel Light's (a remarkable dieting combination) since the first tune and were more than ready for some rowdy. It wasn't perfect, but the smaller crowd and increasingly raucous band helped push the El Rey to be at least a little like a venue like Burt's.
  • Songs got louder, solos more piercing, Patterson Hood's Belushi-esque capering on stage more aggressive and angular. To be honest, the band seemed much more relaxed the smaller the audience got, and by the time we left during the 2nd encore song the bond between audience and band was sweatily palpable. This was a band having fun. This was the Un-Son Volt.

1 comment:

Emma said...

ahaha...hi scot. I agree with what you said about suburbia. I loved it! it's cool that you went. Also, that thing at El Rey on Sunday. I think I babysat for some people who went to see that. Just as a fun fact, you know.