November 8th, 2009

don't mess with me today, think so do ya?

Mt Goats good, audience stupid

Dear Mr. John Darnielle:

Thank you for a lovely concert. Are you sure you weren't one of my lab students 10-12 years ago? You don't look like any particular one of them, just a representative of the type. In any case, well done. Thanks also to your band.

Fondly,
mrissa

Dear audience at the concert of Mr. John Darnielle:

Okay, look. I know some of you are apparently new. I know that in the cave in which you were raised, all entertainment came with mute, pause, and fast-forward buttons. But here in adultland, we have this thing called live shows where both the performers and the fellow audience members are fellow human beings. This time even the opening act qualified as a fellow human being! It's astonishing! What does this mean? It means:

If the venue has a very small number of seats off to one side, approaching those seats to ask, "Are these reserved/taken?" is quite reasonable (and thanks to the vast majority of people who handled that as polite members of society). Sneering, "Are these for special people?" at the people already seated in them is not quite the same thing. It is already such a special experience to require assistance to get into the concert at all, to worry whether one's needed accommodations will be handled gracefully despite one's calling in advance (they were), and to have one's particular special condition exacerbated by the decadent overindulgence of sitting in dark halls two nights in a row. What I really need to make the experience complete is your open resentment that I have been permitted something so flagrantly self-indulgent as a chair. Then when we indicate that it's because of disability, what I need even more is for you to recoil as though I have whipped out graphic pictures of some surgery or internal organ. Thanks ever so.

Do not answer your damn cell phone. If it rings during a quiet moment in the music, your course of action is to look extremely sheepish and mute it or turn it off, as you should have done at the start of the show. If they call for which you are waiting is truly life and death important, please stand close to the doors so you can duck out into the lobby to answer it.

If you are taking pictures, do not turn your flash up to "everybody take your iodine, there's been a nuclear event" level. I live with one photographer and see quite a bit of some others socially, and so I am pretty sure that this is not necessary. And if it was necessary, it might be a sign that you should just not try to get that picture.

This is a rock show. One of the things that means is dynamic variation. You can pretty well guarantee that there will be a loud bit at some point, and then there is a loud bit, you can say things to your companion in a loudish conversational voice. You can rummage around in the purse you have apparently filled entirely with cellophane. You can make impatient little noises with your water bottle. What you should not do is to perform these irritating little acts compulsively when the music is having quiet, contemplative/emotional moments. If something in your purse is that important and takes two full songs to find, perhaps you should go out to the lobby, where there is better lighting. Or perhaps you should stand closer to the individuals in one of the paragraphs adjacent to you, as they were augmenting the lighting on a fairly regular basis.

If you must light up and stay lit up for the entire concert (which, frankly, I doubt is quite as imperative as you seemed to find it), do us all a favor and spring for the good pot. "But Mris," you may be saying, "you do not smoke pot. How do you know which is the good pot?" I have said this before, but since some people are, as I said, apparently new, I will repeat it. In fact, this is general advice from Auntie mrissa, applicable to sweaters and roommates and cupcakes and quarter-scale reproductions of the SF-MoMA porcelain statue of Michael Jackson and his chimp as well as to weed: things that smell like burning unwashed ass are bad. You do not want them.

If you wish to be in full control of which songs you hear at which times, I have some wonderful news for you! It is now possible to purchase a number of devices that facilitate this behavior. You can, for example, use a CD player. You can use a music player on your computer or on a portable device. You can even, should you be inclined, make cassette tapes and fast-forward or rewind them as you desire. If that is not retro enough for you, some bars feature machines into which you may feed money for this purpose. However, this is not the jukebox option. That being the case, will you please permit the performers to perform more than one song before you begin shouting the names of their one or two most popular pieces? (Or any others. But especially those.) They arrived for this event aware that their engagement in this venue was for the purposes of providing music. They have therefore given some thought to music they know or might remember some of, and if they don't say, "So what d'you want to hear?" or otherwise seem to be flailing, let them play. If the show appears to be winding down, you may then express your enthusiasm for the performers' one or two most popular songs if those have not been played, and if you feel that they may be unaware of which pieces catch your particular individual fancy and the particular individual fancy of every other person who has ever heard of this band. But give the poor musicians at least a few minutes to get settled in onstage before you shatter their illusion that you might be here for more than just the one three-minute song.

I'm so glad we've cleared all that up.

Sternly,
mrissa