Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Rant of An Aging Hipster

The Gadflies spent Saturday at the Bumbershoot Music Festival in order to see Crowded House, who opened this year's mainstage festivities. Mainstage at Bumbershoot is a high-school football stadium, with the stage in one end zone. We camped out at the stage an hour before the show started and stood through Crowded House (who rocked), a half hour of setup, and then The Shins (who did not).

Also, apparently I'm old now.

At the beginning of Crowded House's set, the pit (such as it was) was dead. This I could understand—it was the first show of the day, people were standing around waiting around for awhile, and Crowded House's fans are generally our age or older. Crowded House also has 20 years of experience playing large venues, and they soon got the crowd into it. Their set ended, and as we sort of expected, the crowd shifted around a little bit but nobody really went anywhere, as The Shins were coming on in thirty minutes.

Except apparently that's not what happened. I looked down at the Bumbershoot guide in my hand, and looked up again, and all of a sudden we exceeded the age demographic of the crowd by a good 15 years. It was as if, as mtg said, we were in a cartoon room, and they had flipped the floor over so that you were in the same place but with totally different furniture.

(Here I should offer up something about, you know, the nature of people who want to stand at the front of the stage versus the (sane) people who sit 500 yards away in the stands watching from a safe distance. In our recent trip to the UK, mtg and I took an overnight bus from Edinburgh to London; we reached the station and absolutely everyone else on the same bus was college student-aged, they being the only demographic that weighed the economic cost of staying over a night in London or Edinburgh greater than the extreme discomfort of braving seven hours sitting upright in a moving bus. In summary, the Gadflies are kind of crazy people.)

In fact I was kind of excited, because I had not been in a good racous crowd since I went to see Basement Jaxx with Glenn Simpson at the Showbox, and that was a long time ago. mtg was somewhat less excited as she could no longer see and was suffering some claustrophobia, but being that I was now the biggest person in the audience, I was able to maintain a little space for us. The opening synth roll of "Sleeping Lessons" began as the Shins walked out on stage, people cheered, it was all very exciting. "Sleeping Lessons" is the perfect song to open a concert because it has this great moment where the song blows up from ambient into big crunching guitar rock, so I was expecting the crowd of 16-year-olds to do the same thing...

...and they didn't. They just stood there. Then the Shins proceeded to play their show managing to not interact with the audience in any way, such that the audience continued to pretty much just stand there. Moreover they played a set that, excepting an admittedly awesome cover of Pink Floyd's Breathe, was technically perfect but not discernibly different from listening to a Shins CD at home. Eventually, some excitement occurred when some spry members of the youth of America started crowd surfing, and here arrives my next complaint.

ATTENTION YOUTH OF AMERICA: If you are holding up part of the body of a crowd-surfer, DO NOT BODILY SHOVE THE PERSON FORWARD. You have to support him or her until you are sure the next person ahead of you (or behind you or to the side of you, depending on which direction the crowd-surfing flow is going) is ready to receive him or her. CARRY--DO NOT PUSH. That is all.

In conclusion, I would like to say that when I was a lad, if somebody wasn't carted out of the pit in a stretcher, it meant that a shitty band was playing. Also, I walked to school in the snow uphill both ways, and we respected our elders. No, wait...not respected. Held them in deep and profound contempt. That was it.

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