Logan Square Auditorium
July 17, 2007
Caveat: This has the potential to piss just as many people off as the now-infamous "A John Henry Memorial is a douchebag" post from the ifucktyrmam days. And believe me, the word "douchebag" will be thrown around often.
I went with Matt. We ate Mexican food beforehand, which was a big mistake, so we were both not feeling all that great...oh yeah, I'm supposed to be writing about the show. Oops. But I think the ill feelings were a mere precursor for what was to come.
We got there about twenty minutes before the scheduled time for the start of the show, and shock of all shocks Laura Viers mounted the stage promptly at 9:30. Viers is not a great songwriter--she's too self-consciously literate for my taste--but she gave an able and endearing performance, especially considering what she was up against.
And here's what she was up against: Apparently most of the people who showed up have ABSOLUTELY NO FUCKING MANNERS, because they talked throughout her entire set. I was standing within 20 feet of the stage and I could barely hear her over the social drone. The venue's setup didn't exactly help--the lack of any sort of acoustics and the rounded shape of the ceiling made the talking travel forward, right in Viers' face. She was very polite about it but obviously frustrated--I personally wouldn't have been so nice. She eventually had the soundguy turn up her mics and did some loop stuff to drown everyone out. Nice try, but you could still hear the buzz.
By this point I turned to Matt and said, "If this continues during Mirah's set, we're fucking leaving."
But once Mirah came onstage, the place was so packed you could barely move and people shut the fuck up. Thank god. Mirah is, as expected, charming and lovely in both her banter and performance style, and as I typically do at any show I started singing along.
After the second song, some bearded bespectacled person turns around and says, "Excuse me?"
I have been summoned! I look up, being the nice person that I am, and acknowledge his existence.
Then he says, "I drove here from Missouri, and your singing is way too loud. It's right in my ear."
How the fuck do you respond to that, other than by either rudely laughing in someone's face or apologizing profusely even though you've done nothing wrong?
I nudge Matt over a few feet, and after Mirah played her new song (the one that says something about "love as an economy/I don't believe in property"), I continued singing, albeit a tad bit quieter than before. That should have been good enough, right?
As the show progressed, a very adorable young woman standing behind me started singing along as well--loudly and joyously, while dancing around in her spot. We bonded in the way that kindred spirits do in times of adversity, and I had never been in a crowd so hostile to people enjoying the show. (Seriously, where the fuck were these people in 2002? Or even 2005? Jesus Christ, I remember the days that when you weren't singing along or moving around you'd get mean looks!)
Well, Missouri Douchebag (or MD from here on out) turns to me while Mirah is talking to the audience and yells, "Can't you see this is a quiet show? You're being very disrespectful right now!...I know you can hear me!" Yeah, I could...sorry, pal, I WAS TOO BUSY BEING FUCKING ENGAGED BY THE PERFORMER TO PAY ANY ATTENTION TO YOUR LAME, UPTIGHT ASS--a performer who was, I might add, playing an amplified, distorted guitar and was accompanied by an electric keyboard player and a drummer...and there was nothing "quiet" about what Mirah was doing last night. There are two things that piss me off more than almost anything: people using sprinklers to water tiny lawns and having most of the water run off into the sidewalk and street, and self-righteous fuckfaces who have no sense of show etiquette, especially in a scene that supposedly (or used to, I'm not sure which applies these days) places such emphasis on artist/audience interaction. He should count his blessings that I'm not completely tone deaf like everyone else in my family! (Someone after the show even came up to me and said I had a pretty voice that went along well with what was going on onstage--ha! Validation!)
The encore started with just the drummer and the keyboardist, who had a killer voice, doing a cover of some popular R&B song...I would label it as "ironic" if she hadn't been singing her ass off. Then Mirah came back on for a "live remix" and a few other songs, including the built-in singalong of "Apples in the Trees." Man, it's like she fucking KNEW!
Okay, enough about the shitty audience--Mirah played mostly songs from C'mon Miracle and Advisory Committee, with one song from the first album and a "guessing game" with her singing verses from some of the songs from Share This Place and having the audience guess which insects she was singing about. Her guitar playing was excellent, and she was in incredible voice--there was nothing quiet about the nuance and depth she can convey, which I was aware of before...but not THIS aware of it. It just amazes me after seeing her perform that she's still diminished and treated like a novelty in an "indie" culture that prizes the novel and precious more than sincerity and hope.
This all leads to two decisions on my part:
1) I'm never going to a show at the Logan Square Auditorium again. It has a cool vibe, but if they aren't going to do something about the cavernous ceiling to help with the acoustics, I'm going to avoid that frustration at all costs.
2) I'm singing as loudly and as lovely as I can at every show I go to (unless it's instrumental or I don't know all the words yet, and then I'll probably just make shit up). I don't know what's happened over the last six months or so since I've been to a show, but I hope this is the exception and not the rule these days. People sang along at Deerhoof back in December, and people sang along with Yoko Ono this weekend--and that's why I go to shows, to participate, to be engaged, to be moved, to exchange and spread love with and to everyone around me. If you just want to listen to the artist without the prerequisites that go along with attending live concerts, stay at home and listen to the record or watch a DVD or a clip on YouTube. People like me (and even people like Matt, who may not get crazy at shows but still have a good time minding their own) made this fucking scene, we constructed the entire culture, and if you're unwilling to build on that and participate in a manner that's more meaningful than spectatorship and propriety, save your money and fuck off.