So basically, I decided to go to the Silversun Pickups / Muse concert last weekend over at the suburban Gwinnett Civic Center after all. I had been talked into getting the tickets and wound up getting scalped on line, paying almost three times the face value for the tickets, but then I suddenly found myself without a companion with whom to go to the show. But at the price I paid, I wasn't going to just eat the cost. I decided to go alone rather than stay home and mope.
I timed the drive so that I would arrive just at the 7:30 start, and hopefully get seated in time to see the Silversuns (my preferred act of the night) open the show. I hadn't anticipated the traffic. Apparently, Muse are more popular than I thought, and I got stuck in the flow of traffic crawling toward the parking lots. I didn't make it to my seat until almost 8:15, just in time to hear the Sliversuns play the last song of their set.
Fortunately, though, their last song was my favorite, Lazy Eye. It's been a long time since I've gone to a bona fide rock 'n' roll concert in an arena setting, and make no mistake about it, the Gwinnett Civic Center is a hockey rink and home of a minor league team. The acoustics were terrible and the sound turned to mush, and even though I knew every note of Lazy Eye, I could barely make out the individual instruments, but the keyboard player, Joe Lester, was wearing the same hat that he wore in the video I posted, and the bass player, Nikki Monninger, wore her little black dress. I got to see them, and hear them perform my favorite song of theirs. So that was good.
Before I arrived at the concert, I even thought about leaving after the Silversuns' set, but again, at the price I paid, and after sitting in all of that traffic, I wasn't going to hear just one song. As long as I was there, I decided to stay for Muse.
They took the stage at around 9. Muse are a true arena band (they opened for U2 on a recent tour), with over-the-top stage sets and lights. The stage consisted of three large towers with light projected onto them to look at times like a triple-set World Trade Towers. The towers "parted" as the music began (actually, the middle screens just fell away), revealing the three musicians of Muse each standing on a separate tower.
Okay, two things here - first, they had a fourth musician, some guy on keyboards and synthesizers, who contributed significantly to the sound but never got so much as a spotlight, much less a place on the towers. Second, I'm used to more intimate, indie rock, and the musicians on their separate towers could have no interaction with one another, only mug individually for the crowd. So there was that. And the muddied sound of the hockey-rink acoustics.
But despite all this, the show was great. And it was a "show." For every song, the stage displayed a different look - either different projections on the towers (Matrix-type computer graphics, stock-market tickers, natures scenes, or close-ups of the musicians), laser lights, or some other effect. Eventually, the towers were lowered so the musicians could wander the stage, and at other times they'd rise back up again. There were giant eyeball balloons filled with confetti that fell from the rafters. There was always something new going on to watch.
I only recognized one of their songs (can you tell yet that I'm not their biggest fan?) other than their cover of Feeling Good ("It's a new dawn / It's a new day / It's a new life / For me"), but it didn't matter. The four young men sitting next to me knew the lyrics to every song, and sang along to each one in surprisingly good harmony. The band left the stage after a rousing series of solos, but before the inevitable encores, I left the arena to get a jump on the traffic (my strategy worked).
So that was my big rock 'n' roll night. Frankly, I prefer seeing some earnest troubadour or singer-songwriter in the cozy confines of some intimate little club (like the Jonathan Richman show last month), or some cutting-edge indie band play to the faithful few, but it was interesting to see the full rock spectacle in all of its pageantry.
Other upcoming concerts for which I've purchased tickets (at face value) include Spoon, Deerhunter and The Strange Boys at The Tabernacle (March 20), the xx and jj in an evening of double-lower-case-letter bands at Variety Playhouse (March 24), and Phoenix ("Lisztomania") back at The Tabernacle again (April 24). And some friends called me earlier today to invite me to join them at Masquerade Friday night to hear singer-songwriter Clay Evans.
I'll keep you posted.
Update: I said I'd keep you posted. For a good review of the Silversun Pickups and Muse show at Madison Square Garden in New York, and fore some good photos of Muse's amazing stage sets, see Brooklyn Vegan.