April 26, 2010
I have been to my share of concerts. It all started with Huey Lewis & the News back in 1983, shifted to Poison and Motley Crue around 1989 and even had some Prince thrown in around 1997. Along the way I even suffered through Milli Vanilli (and yes, they did lip-sync) with Young M.C. But there was one thing missing from my repertoire. Last night I filled that void.
Payton (my 14 year old) decided she wanted to go to a concert in downtown D.C. This concert was at a small venue and involved five smaller bands. Well, let me rephrase that. It involved five bands I would consider “smaller”. To the screaming mass of teenage girls, these were major players in the music world. The four lesser bands actually turned out to be pretty decent. The last act…the headliner…was another story altogether.
Let me state that I generally love concerts. There is a great energy that goes with a live act. They tend to crank it up and throw themselves into the performance. I loved going to big “arena rock” concerts to see the elaborate stages and feel the roar of the crowd. After this smaller show, in what was really nothing more than a club, I may have a new appreciation for an intimate setting. These bands felt so close even when I lurked off to the dark corner. Those corners seemed to be where the many other parents resided. I just followed the herd.
As for the music, the opening bands all put on pretty good shows. First up was The Summer Set. They were a pretty new group of youngin’s that had the oddity of a female drummer. That is not something you see a lot. They played a decent 5 or 6 song set. They were a fun group. I actually downloaded a song or two when I got home. Every Avenue followed with another 5 or 6 songs. They were not as memorable, but the overall sound was not bad. Just nothing really stood out. Next up was Hey Monday. This band sounded instantly familiar. They had a female vocalist and sounded a lot like Paramore (a relatively famous current band that Payton got me into). Again, I downloaded a song or two of theirs that struck me as pretty good. After this was The Cab. This is a band that I had actually heard of. I hadn’t heard much mind you, but I had heard a song somewhere along the line. Once again, this band made a good showing on stage. It was energetic and fun. They gave us about 7 songs. Once more, I downloaded a few songs.
Now we get to the fifth and final act of the night. This was the reason Payton wanted to to go. Nevershoutnever! is not a loud, rockin’ group. In fact, the “band” is really just one 19 year old guy. He has other players, but the frontman is really the whole deal. My best description would be that this was The Wiggles for the teenage girl demographic. He actually admitted as much during his set. He dedicated a song to the “dudes” in the audience, stating that he himself “would not be caught dead at one of his shows”. He is very mushy and plays a ukelele on many songs. In contrast, when the four lead-in bands shouted that “here is a love song!”, it was still a pumped up rocker. Nevershoutnever!’s love songs were…well…more sappy. Where I had rather enjoyed the first acts, I was ultimately bored for this last set. And he seemed to be ok with that. He knew who his fans were and played right to them. The girls screamed and jockeyed for position to get closer to the stage. They hung over the balcony and screamed his name. I guess I just didn’t get it. But what he did, he did well. I didn’t like the songs, but he did have a stage presence and played the crowd like another instrument.
One more thought I had while I watched from my dark corner. Lighters have been replaced! Back in the day, we used to fire up lighters and wave them back and forth. Especially during any anthems or power ballads. The glow of the flickering flame has been left behind in favor of the glow of cellphones and digital camera screens. These kids were taking pictures and videos the entire time. Just waving the camera/phone overhead as the crowd surged one way then the other.
All-in-all, it was a pretty good outing. Payton and her friend Danielle had a blast and rehashed the entire show the whole drive home. I gave them my thoughts on both the opening bands (pretty good) and the headliner (pretty blah!) and they both ganged up on me to set me straight. I countered by pointing out that they, teenage girls, were his core audience and that is why they loved it. I, a nearly 40 year old man (that likes rock!), was outside of his core audience and therefore thought he generally sucked. That was not received well and we decided to agree to disagree…while they sang all his songs to show me how wrong I was.