Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Almost Almost Famous

Variety Playhouse. Little Five Points. Atlanta, Georgia.
November 15, 2010.
Brooke Fraser Concert.

Who Are We Fooling - Brooke Fraser (feat. Aqualung) (mp3)

You want to be a true friend to them? Be honest. And unmerciful. -- Lester Bangs, Almost Famous

My first experience with Variety Playhouse was chaperoning seven students to a moe. concert in 1997. Jam bands don’t work for me. Worse yet, being responsible for seven adolescents in an environment where drug use is almost an entry requirement, made me like this particular situation less. I was new to the world of chaperoning and school, and I was uptight.

Everytime I return, that goddamn moe. concert comes to mind, which is a damn shame for the Variety Playhouse, ‘cuz it’s a decent venue.

I returned earlier this week for a very unique opportunity: to attend a concert for a performer about whom I knew almost nothing, about whose music I was fond but not a “fan,” and without anyone I knew accompanying me. The Brooke Fraser concert was a chance to experience the musical version of a stranger in a strange land.

Here’s my observations.

(1) The music business is meaner than Everest.
Brooke’s opening act was a Brit singer-songwriter named Sam Bradley. It was just him and another dude on a two-acoustic set. His pal was plenty talented with an acoustic. The set was a nice warm-up and had some strong moments. But here’s what I was really thinking about the back-up guitarist: The back-up guitarist for the opening act for a Kiwi pop artist most Americans have never ever heard of is a more-than-competent, talented guitarist. And he’s still just the back-up guitarist for the opening act for a headliner who’s virtually unknown in America.

Shark cages are more loving than the music business. If you’re in music to get laid, or to ride on Concordes, or to say words like “double platinum,” then there’s a 99.3% chance you’re in for the most depressing rude awakening of your life.

(2) “I write a music blog.”
These words are not meaningless in most situations, they’re downright toxically amusing. If I ever say this to people, the response their facial expressions can’t help but reply is, Why are you telling me this, and why should I give a shit? And this is precisely the reaction such a comment deserves in most situations.

But attend a sold-out concert, wear a cool wristband that embodies you with special privileges, and carry a sweet digital SLR with two lenses. Then, when you say these words, people look at you differently. Suddenly you have this weird level of clout in the only place where music blogs matter.

“You’re gonna write about Brooke on your blog?” they asked.
“Yup. That’s the plan.”
“That’s so cool. She’s so awesome. Are you a fan?”
“Not in the traditional sense. Just here to cover the experience.”
“Cool man. Cool.” (They had no idea what “cover the experience” meant, nor did they really care.)

Some variant of that conversation occurred at least four times. I won’t lie. It felt kinda cool. Perhaps because my bar of feeling cool is very, very low.

(3) Brooke is the cool big sister without the fights.
It seems like almost all fans follow a musician for one of a handful of reasons: their musical talent is worthy of awe (think: Rush), you lust after them or envy the lust they engender (think: Bon Jovi or Britney), you sense of a kindred spirit (think: Patty Griffin), or you dig the character and theatricality of it all (think: Lady GaGa).

For the fans with whom I spoke or overheard, Brooke is of the kindred spirit variety. This kicked up a notch knowing that Brooke is a Christian singer. While her latest album wouldn’t fall under “Contemporary Christian,” enough of her lyrics dance around that burning bush that it didn’t surprise me to see so many clean-cut doe-eyed Christian kids in the crowd.

Two large groups of college-age girls crammed in on either side of me during her show, and I overheard conversations in both groups suggesting that Brooke is that friend who never does you wrong. She always has the right advice and is completely trustworthy, and you never get in a fight with her.

A rough guesstimate had the crowd at 60-70% female. At least five or six dudes yelled out “I love you Brooke!” She’s married.

(4) Brooke Fraser puts on a good, chill show.
At one point early in, Brooke announced that she didn’t show up in Atlanta to put on some boring, listless show. In a sense, she was being honest. But in another sense, Brooke isn’t exactly gonna rock out. I mean, she’s not gonna rip down the glass with shrieking and guitar shredding. Her music might have moments of energy and exuberance, but it’s mostly a chill set of ethereal pop songs. And she and her band did a damn fine job of performing her set, keeping the crowd engaged, and most decidedly not just dialing it in.

She talked a lot, too. Some people don’t like that. They think it takes away from the number of songs you get to hear. But I tend to think talk is the one thing most musicians can’t help but mix around from one concert to the next. Monologuing is the truly unique snowflake of each concert. So I like it when they talk. It showed she was having fun and approached her job and her success with the right mindset. It was adorable.

And it sure beats the ever-loving hell out of a jam band stretching three songs and calling it a concert.

Visit her web site.
Get her music at eMusic.
Here's her cool video for "Shadowfeet" from a previous album:

4 comments:

John said...

Thanks for the tip, Billy. I liked her stuff enough to emusic a couple of cds. Sounds like a fun time.

John said...

On the music front, one of my students just hipped me to this site. I'd never heard of it before:

http://listen.grooveshark.com/

Anonymous said...

Students becoming angry and violent in the UC protests. Reminds me of labor riots of the 20th century.
We all know what's happening here:::These white men at the top have voted themselves $400k pay and retirement packages like that fucking uneducated fire chief in this metro region, loading up their friends on the payroll during the boom 90s and all services which the program were intended to fund get cut to pay for it.
It was temptation, and the Gods are going to make them pay for it. Unfortunately, so will everybody else:::
Reincarnation is very real. It is OUR national debt.

Anger about Messerlee. Understandable.
They need to understand this man was pushed into the offense. Cops have been getting away with killings like this for a long time. Blacks in the South know this all too well. Each time they were all confident the Blue Shield would protect them, and it did. The difference is in many IF NOT MOST of these cases they were rogue cops who the Gods tempted. They did it intentionally thinking they were "earning", knowing they would get away with it. They were the ones whom the Gods disliked, while the Messerlees of the world who get caught are being punished, feedback reserved for those the Gods have interest in keeping.
There are those in the ghetto whom are singled out, targets of the community whom everybody hates. The rogue cops in the South who are guilty of these kind of killings have been reincarnated into roles like this. It's just one of the clues the Gods offer to the community. Lucky for those preditors the ghetto has been an ignorant community, but I think that might be changing.

Of course there could be anoher possibility:::::Due to the history and resulting legacy of hatred for the Gods, since I am guarenteed a spot on the next Planet Earth I will be the original "bad seed":::The Lucifer-figure of the next reality. Unlike Christian dogma, he may just represent the solitary target of the God's ire early, a disgruntled asshole who pissed the Gods off, the proverbial "apple" of the next reality, beginning the process which leads planets to where we are today. A crucial figure in any planet's history, he represents the "beginning of the end".
lanet Earth.

I have said diseases, such as cancer, won't be going anywhere, no matter how much money is thrown at it, no matter how much money is raised. These diseases are important tools used by the Gods to help people do the right thing:::Cancer has compelled more than a few women to begin praying and behave appropriately.
In this environment of decay, the Gods will eventually eliminate these motivations one day. Positioning states cures/vaccines are positive developments which display life is improving. Unfortunately, this is just another example of how the Gods utilize "reverse positioning" which has been very effective in promoting deceptive elements in society, such as democracy, Christianity and Californication, Hollywood being the primary tool used to spread the message of The Beast.
Similarly, other motivations which have complelled people to turn to the Gods for solice will begin to disappear as well::::Economic recession/turmoil, Unlike the Christian Bible's version, the Apocalypse will not be preceeded by ruin and desperation. Just the opposite, there will be peace and personal satisfaction leading to The End, ensuring the Gods can control the group selected for the Second Coming event.

The irony of the Apocalypse::::
People told not to follow the Second Coming, who fail to recognize the urgency of the moment and die in the Apocalypse because of it.
The Gods will account for people who do not sell out to Christianity, however difficult due to temptation.

Anonymous said...

Students becoming angry and violent in the UC protests. Reminds me of labor riots of the 20th century.
We all know what's happening here:::These white men at the top have voted themselves $400k pay and retirement packages like that fucking uneducated fire chief in this metro region, loading up their friends on the payroll during the boom 90s and all services which the program were intended to fund get cut to pay for it.
It was temptation, and the Gods are going to make them pay for it. Unfortunately, so will everybody else:::
Reincarnation is very real. It is OUR national debt.

Anger about Messerlee. Understandable.
They need to understand this man was pushed into the offense. Cops have been getting away with killings like this for a long time. Blacks in the South know this all too well. Each time they were all confident the Blue Shield would protect them, and it did. The difference is in many IF NOT MOST of these cases they were rogue cops who the Gods tempted. They did it intentionally thinking they were "earning", knowing they would get away with it. They were the ones whom the Gods disliked, while the Messerlees of the world who get caught are being punished, feedback reserved for those the Gods have interest in keeping.
There are those in the ghetto whom are singled out, targets of the community whom everybody hates. The rogue cops in the South who are guilty of these kind of killings have been reincarnated into roles like this. It's just one of the clues the Gods offer to the community. Lucky for those preditors the ghetto has been an ignorant community, but I think that might be changing.

Of course there could be anoher possibility:::::Due to the history and resulting legacy of hatred for the Gods, since I am guarenteed a spot on the next Planet Earth I will be the original "bad seed":::The Lucifer-figure of the next reality. Unlike Christian dogma, he may just represent the solitary target of the God's ire early, a disgruntled asshole who pissed the Gods off, the proverbial "apple" of the next reality, beginning the process which leads planets to where we are today. A crucial figure in any planet's history, he represents the "beginning of the end".
lanet Earth.

I have said diseases, such as cancer, won't be going anywhere, no matter how much money is thrown at it, no matter how much money is raised. These diseases are important tools used by the Gods to help people do the right thing:::Cancer has compelled more than a few women to begin praying and behave appropriately.
In this environment of decay, the Gods will eventually eliminate these motivations one day. Positioning states cures/vaccines are positive developments which display life is improving. Unfortunately, this is just another example of how the Gods utilize "reverse positioning" which has been very effective in promoting deceptive elements in society, such as democracy, Christianity and Californication, Hollywood being the primary tool used to spread the message of The Beast.
Similarly, other motivations which have complelled people to turn to the Gods for solice will begin to disappear as well::::Economic recession/turmoil, Unlike the Christian Bible's version, the Apocalypse will not be preceeded by ruin and desperation. Just the opposite, there will be peace and personal satisfaction leading to The End, ensuring the Gods can control the group selected for the Second Coming event.

The irony of the Apocalypse::::
People told not to follow the Second Coming, who fail to recognize the urgency of the moment and die in the Apocalypse because of it.
The Gods will account for people who do not sell out to Christianity, however difficult due to temptation.