One of the earliest live concerts that I saw, other than those in college, and we had some pretty good acts I might add, was a Sonny and Cher Concert is a city park in Seattle, WA. In those days all you needed was a fair sound system, a few lights and an enthusiastic large crowd. This was at their height too, 1967. How things have changed.
|Electric Sign at Honda Center|
Saturday I was with a friend who got tickets for the Foo Fighters Concert at the Honda Center in Anaheim, CA. Normally an ice skating arena for the Ducks hockey team, it does a nice job of making things accessible for concerts. It was packed and all the groupies were out on the floor. The bands leader, Dave Grohl, had broken his leg falling off a stage somewhere in Europe but didn't let that slow him down ... not one bit! The stage was set up with a long runway and he rode an electric cart up and down it from the stage to everyones delight!
|Dave Grohl on his electric cart!|
As much as I wanted to go, I was afraid I wouldn't know any of their music but when I went to that old standby, iTunes, I found clicking on their music I was more than surprised at how many of their songs I knew! I hadn't memorized the lyrics as many in the audience had but at least I knew the tunes.
My other fear was that I would be the oldest one there by several decades, not that it mattered but you do get tired of being stared at as if you are, say, a living fossil. There were other grey beards as well!
Watching all this I realized that what was once a simple production - an audience, lights, some kind of speakers and play music for the fans has changed from music oftentimes to a "production." We have come a long ways from "I Got You Babe" played forever in the movie "Ground Hog Day" to Garth Brooks, Taylor Swift or the Foo Fighters. Just think this all must be loaded on a truck. Sounds like "Ground Hog Day" to me!
Watching the bands take down and put up the next day at the Kaa Boo Festival in Del Mar, it has become something much greater than those early days. AND, it took somebody(s) to design and implement it. At Del Mar there was much scurrying around as the crew for the next band set up. I was in fact awed by all that went on and wondered how they could do it over and over again in venues that were never the same.
|Honda Center filled for the Foo Fighters seen from the Nose Bleed section|
I can't help but believe that long on-the-road concerts are grueling for just about everyone involved. Lessons must be learned at every stop, adjustments made to provide not only the best sound but the best show for the audience. I'm sure it doesn't take much to defeat the original purpose but also what we don't know won't make any difference anyway.
Sometimes artists have great opening acts but Saturday night was not one of them. One of he biggest problems to me is the volume of sound. It is so loud that besides being unable to think, you are subjected to a volume of sound that almost makes you deaf. I couldn't understand a word they said and, of course, had never heard of them before so didn't know their music. It was hard to even pick out the tune. Loud does not make for great music.
While loud, the Foo Fighters were a bit different. You could recognize the music and on the first bar
|Foo Fighters on stage|
or two, the audience came to life. In fact they played a solid 2 1/2 hours straight!
Watching all this, studying what they were doing, you realize that concerts, like everything else in life, are designed for a certain affect. The huge video screens showed details we would never see, the sound was well, loud but tunes and voices were audible, the lighting was at times dramatic and changed with the flavor of the music. The overall effect is to surround you with an otherworld experience. It does too!
They are returning to Anaheim again next month and I heard people say they were coming back for that concert. I must be callous but unless they had a new album I wouldn't want to come back for a year or two.
Thank you for reading my blog. Why not take the time to read my older blogs that comment on a variety of ways our lives are designed.