Why go to a concert? They aren’t exactly cheap. A ticket for a band of note will start at twenty dollars, and go up from there. Browsing seats for a couple of recent concerts I’ve been to, I had to sit in the way way back because I didn’t have a thousand dollars for a pair of seats. This discounts getting to the concert, parking (if you drive), food before or after, a concert poster if you want a memento. If the cost is so prohibitive, then why go to a concert?
I assume the answer is because you want to see the performer. For some reason, you took the money out of your pocket and the time out of your life to go to the place where the person will be singing, you sat down and faced the stage. So why the fuck are you talking to the person sitting next to you during all of the songs? Any person that’s been to more than one concert has inevitably run into this asshole. If you haven’t, there’s a good chance you are this asshole. At a recent Bob Dylan concert, I ran into one of the worst offenders.
Mavis Staples opened the concert. She was on at eight on the dot, which was slightly inconvenient because the security to get into the concert was so tight, that showing up over twenty minutes early didn’t guarantee getting to your seat on time. Her brief forty-minute set attempted at outshining Dylan—and maybe because it was my eighth time seeing him and my first time seeing her, she was all I could talk about after the show.
Except the fucking guy next to me didn’t know who she was, said so, and proceeded to talk during her entire set. She ran through a Pops Staples classic, telling the story of the track in song, punctuated by her incredible, indelible vocal tics, the ones that produced “shamone,” which MJ stole from her. The guy didn’t know it, so it didn’t matter.
Didn’t matter that “You Are Not Alone,” the Jeff Tweedy-penned instant-classic helped her win a Grammy. Didn’t matter that her incredible band played out the show to “I’ll Take You There,” the song she and her sisters are most famous for with such energy that you forgot there were only three instruments and two back-up singers on stage. Fuck that guy. (In all fairness, the guy next to him looked embarrassed that he was talking so much, but points taken away because he didn’t try to stop him.)
But really, why go to a concert when you’re just going to complain the artist/band didn’t perform the songs you wanted them to? These fucking people. Shouting out requests, these “play stuff from the sixties” motherfuckers, these “Freebird” assholes are the worst of the worst. We have the internet now, and many artists/fans are very active about putting up set lists, checking them out before the show, even writing reviews based on statistics from the average tours.
Dylan has been playing a toned down, crooner set for a year or three now. In fact, this entire tour, he’s essentially played the same twenty songs every single stop of this tour. His two most recent albums have been covers of Frank Sinatra songs. The three songs he did play from before 1980 all beautifully morphed into the Standard style. It’s just what he does for now (and probably will for the foreseeable future: he premiered a new standard that hasn’t been released yet, hinting at another tribute album?).
If the crooner Dylan isn’t your thing, that’s fine, but why go at all? Why try and ruin it for the rest of us. Maybe it’s just this band, or it was a particularly good night, but Dylan hasn’t sounded this tight and clean in a long time. The slow songs were tender and gentle, but a fast paced song like “Duquesne Whistle” was on the verge of coming off the rails. He’s not indulgent, neither is his band. His piano playing (hardly ever picking up a guitar now) is restrained chaos, a bit trite, I know, but I don’t have a better way to put it.
In short, this is Dylan at his best, and the crowd doesn’t give a shit. This is Dylan in ’65, and the people yelling “Judas.” He or Mavis Staples, for all their incredible genius and spectacle, don’t deserve this. And fans who came to listen don’t either.
So why go to a concert? Is it just to get drunk and yell things at the stage and talk over the band, or is it to listen to a musician putting on a show? For so many, it seems like the former, and I think it’s time we ban these fuckers from the show.
Article: Christopher Gilson