I apologize to the proud, faithful subscribers of this wayward blog. I’ve been less than consistent in my postings of late, and there’s an excellent reason for that. Once you find it out, please let me know.
Kidding aside, I’m brain weary. I’ve had to do too much writing for school, and when that’s been done of late, I just don’t have much left. I have lucked into a topic this week I wanted to muse on, and that’s concerts. Of the musical variety, of course.
I haven’t been to all that many- part of that is my particular taste in music, and part of that is… well, I imagine most of it’s my taste in music. There’s not a lot of artists that I like well enough that I’d go out and say ‘Gee, I’ll pay a bunch of money to go see these guys!’
I got thinking about it when I bought tickets to the upcoming Barenaked Ladies concert in Calgary- the odd part about that being, I had seen them before, with Mom and Dad, back in 2004. Difference being, that time, I didn’t pay for the tickets, as it was a b-day gift from Mom to Dad, and she paid for all of us. Suffice to say, the experience was good enough that I decided it was work some more ducats to do it again.
Going to a concert, in my mind, should be a singular experience. Here are a few guidelines I’ve learned, either from osmosis, my Dad, or the internet, that we’ll be referring to as we continue along:
1) No more than 2 opening acts- otherwise, the headliner gets squeezed.
2) The opener(s) should not be better than the headliner. Ever.
3) By the same token, the opener(s) should not suck.
4) Know your own style. The opening acts should not be of a wildly different genre- alt-rock to hard rock is alright, but rap should not be opening for country.
5) Between song talking should be short, and concise. Descriptions of songs are ok, so long as it’s not overly verbose, and you’re not killing the momentum. (Note: Christian acts are allowed an altar call, since that’s undeniably cool)
6) We understand that you need to push the new album, but mix in a respectable amount of classics.
7) Covers are always cool. Unless you botch them.
Here are my memories from the few concerts I have attended, with the headliners last:
Jars of Clay/DC Talk: I think this might have been the first concert I went to, around 2000ish, and we went with a bunch of friends. I think we had around 12 people- Dennis and Kristen can correct me on that, though.
Seperately, these are great groups. Together, it didn’t work quite as well, to my recollection. Jars suffered a little because their style wasn’t as high energy as DC Talk, and had to work to keep the crowd in it, even as the opener. I remember them opening with “Worlds Apart”, which, in retrospect, seems an odd choice. Wouldn’t you want to build to that one?
DC Talk didn’t need any help, though. I remember their set as being tight and energetic, from top to bottom. And when they did go to the ballads- “What if I Stumble?” being my favourite- they kept it going. Don’t remember the encore, or whether or not they did an altar call.
Violations: Possibly rule #4, with Jars being a little more folksy, and DC Talk being alternative to hard rock/rap all the way. My memory’s not good enough to cover any more possible violations.
Final Judgement: Great show. I was a little disappointed with Jars, but all in all, I enjoyed this one.
Boxtree/Third Day: And a few others I can’t remember. This might have been for a church event.
I remember not being a huge fan of Third Day at the time, and not
having any idea who Boxtree was, so I don’t have a lot of recollection
for this one. I remember being struck by Mac Powell’s voice, though.
And some of Third Day coming out to lead us in worship beforehand, and
really enjoying that.
Where’s Boxtree now? Are they still around?
Violations: Oh, like I’d know.
Final Judgement: I think I liked it.
Lifehouse/Matchbox 20: This was grade 12 year, I think, after the DC Talk/Jars concert- when Lifehouse had first burst onto the scene, and Matchbox 20 hadn’t become irrelevant.
I was so impressed with Lifehouse that I bought their CD afterwards. Matchbox 20 had the lights, the effects, and the experienced frontman (Rob Thomas showed his eventual boy-band style with his subtle manipulation of the crowd, playing the ‘lonely, romantic man’ card to perfection), but I thought Lifehouse was better.
I remember Matchbox doing a reasonable cover of the Beatles’ ‘Don’t Let Me Down’, and another one I can’t remember, but outside of that, they seemed to stick to their script. Straightforward, right-out-of-the-studio songs, with even the solos coming close to what they were on the album. Don’t remember the encore, save for that there was one.
Violations: Rule #2, with Lifehouse outshining Matchbox, in this humble writer’s opinion.
Final Judgement: Enjoyable- wouldn’t have minded a little more improvisation from Matchbox, though.
Only Forward/Bread of Stone/Farewell June/Petra: I feel reasonably confident in saying that if you haven’t read this, you’re a terrible human being. Actually, it covers my thoughts on this one in too much depth to rehash here. You’re not terrible if you haven’t read it yet. But you will be.
Violations: Rule #1- and the worst of it is, they actually had four openers scheduled. This concert is what led to it becoming ‘Rule #1’ in Dave’s book of concert planning no-no’s. Sure, Petra was getting up there in years, but…
Final Judgement: The best concert I’ve been to. Bar none. But it could have used more Petra, and less openers, even though the openers were very good, and perfect for the group they were opening for.
Jason Plumb/Ron Sexsmith/Barenaked Ladies: This was the most recent one (2 years ago- do I need to get out more, or what?).
Jason Plumb, a country/folk sort of singer, came out by himself on stage, with a harmonica and a guitar strapped to him. After the first, tentative song, Dad and I agreed that he desperately needed a backing band. The audience responded politely, but when it became clear he was losing the crowd (and it didn’t take long) he brought Ed Robertson and Kevin Hearn from BNL to do a song to finish it off (at least, I THINK it was Kevin. I know one of them was Ed).
Ron Sexsmith actually wasn’t bad- I’ve heard his radio stuff, and it’s not terrible. But something was off this night- his rhythm, or he was playing with a studio band who weren’t familiar with him (or maybe his voice is overproduced in the studio- this is a good theory). I remember Dad actually liking Plumb better, though I disagreed. At least Sexsmith was something resembling energetic in his approach and music, from what I can recall.
Then, BNL came out. We quickly lost the bad taste of the opening act.
I’m not going to say much more- there are those reading this blog who are coming with Dennis and I to the BNL concert, and I’d rather not spoil any surprises- but these guys have a lot of fun, and play with a lot of energy, and it showed on that night. To those who are fans of the music, I’d highly recommend going to a concert of theirs.
The one redeeming factor of the opening acts was that they were Canadian, and we understood some of the rationale in BNL’s picking them to open. And, once they were off the stage, they never came up again.
Violations: Rule #3, far and away. Close on #6, since there was a lot off of ‘Everything to Everyone’, but most of them were appropriate (or, in one case, hilarious)
Final Judgement: They’d have to do a lot to beat Petra (like, say, get some competent openers), but this show wasn’t that far behind.
Collective Soul: I’ve never been to a Collective Soul concert, and it absolutely kills me that I haven’t (Dennis has, when they were at the Stampede- I had to work that night ), because they’re in Calgary a lot. I’ve been skulking around the internet, but it doesn’t sound like they’re touring in Canada anytime soon, which sucks.
The concert I’d like to see (but never will) would be Soul Asylum opening for Collective Soul, since those are two of my favourite bands, and I’ve not seen either of them live. It would almost work stylistically, though SA has a little more of an edge to their music.
Whew. I think that’s it.