Monday, June 05, 2017

Thoughts from a concert

This is now officially the sixth post about that night. Granted, some of the posts were pretty short, as were the performances they reviewed. It still feels like a lot, but there was a lot going on.

It started at the merch booth, when I saw Lily Pryor shirts.

I like keeping an eye on an artist's Twitter feed leading up to a show, so I had seen that Matt Pryor was posting pictures with his daughter Lily. I thought that meant he loved and was proud of her - which was awesome - but somehow I never got that she was on the tour. I asked the guy working the booth, "Lily's not here, is she?"

"Is she playing?"
"Yeah. A few songs."

Okay then.

The Doug Fir Lounge is a small venue, and it was easy to be in front. There were four mikes, three guitars, and one ukulele. I was quite sure that the ukulele would be used for accompaniment, so that probably meant three acts, with one guitar each for Lily, Matt, and Dan. When I saw the other guy setting things up, I thought he was crew, but no, that was Chris Margolin, another act. Everything was set up pre-show, but there were enough instruments because there was some sharing of guitars.

There were team-ups. In addition to her own set, Lily came back and joined Matt for a few songs. Matt later came back and joined Dan for some songs. This was cool not just musically, but for the interplay that you got between the artists.

For the record, no, of course Matt Pryor's songs don't all sound alike, but there are some similarities where that worked as a sick burn. Point Lily, except he can ground you. I guess this is what happens when you take your daughter to work. For Matt's rebuttal to Dan that the reason he had not come back on stage yet was that Dan kept starting new songs -- yeah, Dan didn't admit it, but Matt was right.

Other thoughts I had were more about me as a writer, and specifically as a writer of musical things. For example, I realized looking at the stage that I don't know what you call it when you plug in an acoustic. Is it still acoustic? Apparently that is semi-acoustic. That's fine, but also, when you have a guitar that is shaped like an acoustic, including having a sound hole, but there is something filling that sound hole, then what is that? Having a sound hole and filling it instead of simply having a solid body must mean something.

I did enjoy having the upfront view, because I could get a really good look at the set up. For this show, I have never seen so much use of tuning clamps. Mainly I noticed that no one had the Swollen Pickle (might not make sense for such a scaled-down show), but two of them had Orange amps boxes. (Those are the two I can easily recognize.)

That started me thinking about pedal array optimization. I have no idea where you would start, but the idea is intriguing. For now it will be a throwaway line in the next Family book (Family Trip, or maybe Family Vacation) and then it might be something Mark does more with later. I don't know; I plan to finish the series in three more books, and there's a lot of vampires to kill and relationships to resolve before we get there, so there might not be time for everything.

Actually, I may know were to start, because there was one point where Lily needed to change a setting and the stand was getting in the way: Step 1, make sure that the mike stand doesn't get in the way!

Ultimately, I learn more at small shows. I will be at a big show Saturday night, and I expect that to be great too, but it started me thinking about venues.

I was at a show a month ago that I haven't written about. I really only went for the opening act, about whom I have already written a lot, so it seemed reasonable to let it go. That was at Revolution Hall, which after one show I hated. I still mostly hate the setup, but I have to admit the event staff is great, and it is in front of a field where a lot of people walk their dogs, so pre-show you see a lot of dogs, which I enjoy.

Anyway, I started thinking about how perhaps I should try some different things, like watching a band I don't really care for at a venue I really like, or vice versa, and see if I can get more of a perspective on how the venue affects things. It might be impossible to fully account for all of the other variables, but it's something to think about.

Just one more thing that was annoying. Dan said many times that we rocked. While the audience in general was responsive, I was kind of feeling it was not true, because right next to me was a group of girls who would just not shut up. It was annoying when they kept bumping into me, but more annoying that they kept talking. I believe the situation was that there was one fan who brought her friends along, and the friends could not have cared less about the acts or the rest of the audience.

I thought about saying something, but felt like I would come off as an old sourpuss who was just being a jerk. Then, someone else did say something, along the lines of how they had the best places at the show (right up front) and lots of other people would like to be in their spot and they weren't even appreciating it.

They did a little better after that. I still maintain that it is better to go to a show by yourself than drag along people who aren't interested, but I also know that by being there alone I am a freak. Still, the time I did drag someone along it was a terrible show and I always felt guilty about it, no matter how much she said she enjoyed her conversation with the bartender. And I keep going to shows that I would not otherwise go to with a different friend and it works out, so maybe I am not the best judge.

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