Honest to God, if I can only get one thing of mine published, it’s got to be my Concert-Going for Dummies
thingy. Not necessarily because it is good, but because it is TRUE. It should be given out at the door at every live music venue in the galaxy. Ticketmaster should charge you an extra $6.50 per ticket, just for the fuck of it, and print it off and include it in your ticket order.
Here’s why. It’s a long story. And it’s not pretty.
A few weeks ago, while recounting the best live shows I saw this year, I was lamenting the fact that I dropped the ball on Black Crowes
tickets. I was so distraught, that when their video for "Remedy" came on VH-1 while I was channel-surfing, I watched like three seconds of it, before I had to change it. I’m a whiny baby like that. Anyway, they were playing a warm-up gig for their Madison Square Garden New Year’s Eve fiesta at this smallish club
Shortly before Christmas, a friend of mine noticed that Ticketbastard released a few more tickets and I was on that like me on Kate Beckinsale. I also got an email from my buddy Marino who also snagged tickets for himself and his wife Katie. We made plans to meet up (he lives in Vermont) and take in the show. The four of us were really looking forward to it, because we love the Crowes and haven’t seen each other for a long time. The evening turned out to be a lot of fun, but, let’s just say we ran into a few people who didn’t contribute to us having the most enjoyable concert-going experience possible.
We meet up ahead of time and drive into Providence together. We scout out a watering hole
a little off the beaten path and settle in for some beers and some food. Great time at the joint, though as good as my burger was, the pulled pork sandwich was definitely the way to go. Perhaps this was a harbinger of things to come.
At this joint, I realized that I am gay. Well, not literally "gay" as in "happy" or even "gay" as in "homosexual", but "gay" as in…well…"gay". So, I’m in the men’s room before we go and it was here that I discovered my gayness. No, THAT didn’t happen! So, I’m standing there, taking a leak, and Bon Jovi’s "Livin’ On A Prayer" comes on the piped in music. There I am, in a townie Providence bar, giving the lip-synch performance of my life for the tiled wall. What the hell is the matter with me?! And to make matters worse, I actually did a fist pump during the "We’ll make it, I swear" lyric all while still doing my business. I never felt more gay. I slinked off and felt shame in my reveling in a Bon Jovi power ballad. In a men’s room, no less. George Michael laughs a familiar laugh.
OK, so we get to the venue, which is a decent place to see a show
. Not great, but I have been to worse. We settled in right above the floor level, about three steps up, on the side. We were right next to a staircase that led up to a VIP area that was chained off and being guarded by a bouncer who not only had a mullet (yes, a mullet), but also bore a striking resemblance to Barf from Spaceballs
, or at least claimed Christine in retrospect.
I notice that this bouncer dude (who wasn’t very big at all) was wearing a cool t-shirt of the venue, which is called Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel. It had a silhouetted profile of Elvis with the name of the venue on the shirt. You bet your ass I bought one…it was 10 beans and Elvis is the MF’ing KING! I couldn’t find a picture of it online, but Christine snapped a photo of me wearing it on New Years Eve. Once I get my dumb computer fixed, I’ll scan it and put it up here. Seriously, the shirt rules.
So we settle into our section probably 20 minutes before the Crowes come on. Shortly before, a wafting scent of incense permeates the air. As does the smell of hair gel and stale cigarette smoke. It’s going to be one of those friggin’ nig
The Crowes come on and launch into "Virtue and Vice" from their much-maligned "By Your Side" CD. They are just clicking on all cylinders and it is great to see the band as it really should be…the Robinson brothers, Marc freaking Ford, Gorman on drums, Old Weird Ed tickling the keys, and some random shamoke playing bass. For this tour, it was Sven Pipien, who bore a freaky similarity to former Guns ‘N’ Roses guitar player Gilby Clarke, which prompted Marino to quietly yell out requests consisting of all 786 songs that are on "Use Your Illusion I and II".
No more than 5 seconds after the start of the show, we are treated to this stout woman to our immediate right who is gyrating like she has a colony of fire ants in her granny panties and producing an ear-piercing scream in 10 second intervals that I’m sure made German Shepherds in Pittsburgh tilt their heads to the side. She seemed to be with a guy with 80s hair who was determined to set the record for most alcohol consumed by a person without losing control of his bodily functions. And he was about to be disqualified. OK. Let me get this straight…you love a band SO much, that you are going to scream during their songs so you can’t hear them. That makes sense. Why don’t you just pump your fist to "Livin’ On A Prayer" while you are at it?
Half-way through a pretty good first set, we start to get a constant influx of people leaving the floor and an even greater amount bum-rushing to the front (much to the chagrin of the guy standing behind Christine who insisted that I, Dim, of the bathroom behavior of questionably masculinity some one hour earlier, should be able to barricade people from moving to and fro the stage
area). Included in these assholes was someone who looked just like a young Wild Samoan Afa from the World Wrestling Federation
. On the top of the list of people I give a LOT of leeway, are Wild Samoans. So, I kept my yap shut as this guy proceeded to stand in the exact space that I had been in for 45 minutes. Marino, who is only interested in justice, meanwhile, doesn’t give a shit if the guy is Samoan or a head hunter from Gilligan’s Island, or what. He taps Afa on the shoulder and says something along the lines of "You can’t stand here. My friend has been here all show long and you can’t stand here. Go down on the floor if you want, but you can’t stand here." The Wild Samoan must have misheard this as "Let’s go down to the floor and you can eat me later", because he gave Marino the hand-clasp handshake and tried to drag him onto the floor with him. Marino luckily escaped his evil clenches by smashing a coconut on his head Rowdy Roddy Piper-to-Jimmy Snuka-style. One asshole crisis averted. But, alas, there were more to come.
The show continues and the band really does sound fantastic. Their set was a little on the obscure side and not really designed for the casual fan. They did some cool covers (the Rolling Stones’ "Street Fighting Man", Pink Floyd’s "Fearless", sung by Rich Robinson, and George Harrison’s "Beware of Darkness"). Not too many radio hits were played, but I went there to hear one song: "Wiser Time" off of their brilliant "Amorica" disc. And did they ever make me sweat. About four songs into their second set, they played a bit of a jam while Marino and I literally crossed our fingers. He said to me, "If you’re gonna hear it, it’s gonna be now." And sure enough, they launched into the tune that caused me to have a smile on my face ten miles wide (just like Jani Lane in Warrant’s "Cherry Pie" video). Hey, heaven isn’t too far away.
It was shortly after me experiencing my audio nirvana for the evening that we all started to notice this foursome starting to encroach on our modest little standing space. One of the alpha males had a visor on backwards (natch) and another was wearing a baseball cap. They had been standing on the floor with 2 women who were sometimes with them, sometimes not, but because one of the women was a little vertically challenged, they decided to get up on the steps, one at a time, and then, ultimately, right into our area. One of the women, dubbed The Slutty One, by Christine, seemed to be encouraging Marino to dance with her. And after he snubbed her, she decided to allow some real goofy-looking guy to grab-ass on her, despite her appearance of being with Backward Visor Guy. Not a bad gig for the Freaks and Geeks kid, but it was about to get rocky for us cool dudes.
The other chick was gyrating like she caught some of the other woman’s fire ants and was definitely getting into our little personal space. Baseball Hat Guy went to put his arm around his wife’s "ass" (his words) when he brushed against Marino’s crotch because they were so close. Marino laughingly said, "Hey, buddy, watch the hand there!", trying to lightheartedly let the guy know that he was getting a little close. But Baseball Hat Guy turned and said something along the lines of "My hand is on my wife’s ass, so I hope you’re not anywhere near that!" Said, of course, with eyes three-quarters closed because of the 13 Bud Lights he had and probably because he just woke up an hour ago and stumbled out of the frat-house. Marino started off by trying to give her a little room, but that just resulted in her pushing back even more. Running out of space to go back, Marino held his ground, which caused gyrating girl to smack into us. At which point, she turns around and accuses Marino of having a problem with her because she was the height of an Oompa-Loompa (my words). Marino insisted that he had no problem, but thought it would be best if she just stepped down, since we were in this spot all night and they just decided it was where they wanted to stand. This resulted in a pissing match between Marino, the Gyrating Girl and The Slutty One. The two guys they were with, for the most part, stayed out of it, though I swear I saw them mouthing the words to "Livin’ On A Prayer" to each other. Marino insisted there was no problem and just wanted them to go down to where they were before, so we could all enjoy the show. Meanwhile, The Groper was sweating more than a whore in church because the whole time, we were unknowingly running interference so he could grab-ass The Slutty One. So while everyone was barking at each other, Christine and I silently seethed (we’re pretty non-confrontational and Marino was 1000% right in saying what he said, but you can never get obnoxious people to say, "You’re right! Sorry! We’ll go away, now.") So, in the middle of this, who makes a cameo, but Barf.
Barf is now the irate parent who really doesn’t care "who started it", he just wants everyone to "shut the fuck up". This attitude, which would completely disgust the Justice League of America, resulted in Barf telling Marino to "take a walk". Tons of room to just wander around, guy, thanks! Marino and Katie asserted that they did nothing wrong (which is correct), but Barf was steadfast that they (which meant "we"), needed to go to the back of the venue. Marino’s interpretation of "back of the venue" was "five inches to the left", and there we stayed til the encore. Meanwhile, The Groper chats me up by saying, "Do you know that guy (meaning Marino)?" I reply, "Yeah", to which The Groper, incredulously replies, "That totally sucks. You guys have been here for like two hours!" Which actually means, in geekspeak, "That totally sucks! I can’t grab-ass anymore! At least I can go home and tell my gamer buddies that I touched a girl, though. Black Crowes are even better than Vertical Horizon!"
So, between the last song and the encore, we started making our way to the back of the venue. Leaving all the assholes behind. Thanks to the Crowes for a great show. But grades of F- go to: Fire Ant Granny Panty Girl (who disappeared at the setbreak), Alcohol World Record Holder (who reappeared after the setbreak, only to spend much of the second set falling down), Overestimating Dim’s Influence on the Crowd Guy, Afa the Wild Samoan, Barf, The Slutty One, Three-Quarted Eyes Closed Baseball Hand On My Wife’s Ass Guy, Backwards Visor Guy (who really didn’t say or do much, but he was wearing a backwards visor, for Chrisssakes), and, especially, Gyrating Girl. I give a hearty high-five to The Groper, though. Nice effort…we all need a remedy. For what is ailin’ me, you see.
If you go to a concert, please, PLEASE try not to be a dick. Is that so freakin’ hard?
The union’s been on strike. I’m down on my luck; it’s tough. So tough,