Monday, September 14, 2009

Johnny Rumble:
Dark Horse, You Suck

I’m sitting at the computer banging my head into the keyboard to the furious post-apocalyptic beats of The Exploited’s two-thousand-and-three album “Fuck the System” thinking about what makes for wonderful-to-attend rock concerts and stage shows. Four chords played with distortion turned to eleven type of rock.

Crowd energy is inherently important at any show. Whoever is playing feeds of the energy of the crowd, and relies on that energy to play, especially three months into a tour. Yelling, screaming, movement in “The Pit,” reaction to stage antics, and general barnstorming are all welcome, and needed for a show to be at its peak. There also needs to a “Pit” of some kind, whether it be a pogo, mosh, circle, dance, meatgrinder or hardcore. Movement. Energy expelled. If a person is able to walk out of a show with waking up in the morning sore, concert failed.

Venues also need to small. Not fifteen people in a backyard small, but a dancehall, or, perhaps most famously to the local area, a VFW hall. Not an arena with you and fifteen thousand total strangers. Closeness and intimacy is what’s required. To be able to converse with the band after a show, to buy their merch directly out of the band member’s hands. I remember attending a venue so small, that roughly one-sixth to one-twelfth of the crowd was made up of the supporting bands members. Four or five total bands played that night. I remember moshing around with the lead singer, the lead singer, of O.C.D. Really cool guy.

But it’s all these things, along with a couple of others, that make concerts great. It’s the exact failure of following this unwritten rule that made the Dark Horse/Nickleback tour that came through Sleeptrain Amphitheater on the last day of August such a shit-hole of a concert.

While the crowd may have been into the show, they defiantly didn’t show anything except occasionally clap their hands or sing along. I was bored just watching it. I yawned quite loudly and explicitly to show my displeasure at the state of energy transference. I don’t know how the bands there did it. Crowd energy was pitiful. They gave absolutely none off. An area that was inanely called “The Pit” was nothing but a standing room only place to watch the show. Watch in full force. Zero movement , zero energy. Refer to the above mentioned boredom.

I’m attributing this lack quality to the general movement among the masses to the desire to be entertained rather than entertaining oneself. I truly am starting to wonder if the “video game” generation has forgotten what it means to have to make their own fun.

Another thing that perhaps shouldn’t chap my Slavic thighs as much as it is, is that both Papa Roach and Nickleback seemed to extolling the use of illicit drugs and asking people to light up and pass it among the people. This concerns me, not that people are toking up, but that I now have to drive home surrounded by people that may or may not be high while piloting a two-ton missile down the road at seventy miles-per-hour after the show had ended.

While I did score my ticket for free from a friend that had her original invite drop out, I am left curious exactly what amount of her money was doled out for stage entertainment in the form of fireworks, lights, and what amounted to huge sparklers. Would the show have been any worse without all that shit? I doubt it. Seriously doubt it. In fact, I’m left wondering if a smaller venue could not have been had with the bands playing over several days been ultimately more profitable.

To keep along this line, why must to the interludes between bands been nothing more than a changing of drum kit? Ten minutes to change a kit takes way to long and the bands start to lose whatever crowd energy they may have built up. Why not run with one kit all tour to share and have the transitions between bands in the space of two minutes? Just enough time to change the amplifiers between bands, and send them on stage to keep playing?

All these sentiments were echoed by the woman that took me with her. A failure of a show and a failure of a crowd. Money wasted on another large show. Highlight of the night: the breakfast at Denny’s was hot for once.

Killing Time,
Johnny Rumble

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