Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Phranc and The Knitters

Another concert post.

We went to see The Knitters at Tipitina's with Phranc opening tonight. There was some doubt about whether I'd be attending, as Adrian Belew was also playing at a different venue. But, alas, Knitters tix had already been purchased, almost immediately by M----- when she heard about the show! While I would have loved to have finally seen Adrian with a backup band (the four times I'd seen him have been either solo or with King Crimson), it always sucks to go to a show alone. It would have also involved making M----- attend a show alone since she's found it oddly quite troublesome to locate friends willing to go see shows for free.

Anyway, as such shows go it was quite tasty, my grumpiness at missing Adrian aside. The Knitters were probably the best alt-country I've ever seen, at least tied with Gillian Welch, and are seriously worth checking out and especially seeing if you ever get the chance.

We were both thrilled that they (well, John Doe and Dave Alvin) opened with the classic "Send me my flowers while I'm living" which we'd last seen done by Homer Ledford in Northern Kentucky in one of the best mountain music concerts I've ever seen.

Phranc was awesome! Her voice has really gotten better in many ways, honestly. All of the stuff I'd heard had been at least twenty years old, but she was really able to be quite moving and powerful, in addition to entertaining and funny with her between songs patter. I knew she'd have a great sense of humor, having heard here stuff and reading her excellent interview in Angry Women in Rock.

She had no Tupperware for sale, alas, but she did sing a song about selling it, and took time to mention her "partner" and the fact that she's a "Jewish folksinging lesbian".

I didn't know it, but twenty years ago she toured with X, the classic punk band who forms the Knitters along with the always-excellent Dave Alvin, and this tour was kind-of a reunion for them all.

The Knitters were fun, and I totally and completely approve of a metal washtub used as a bass drum. The five-string Kay upright bass was also lovely.

This was the third time I'd seen Excene play, and the most enjoyable. I'd seen her once at Sudsy's with her solo band, once with X, and tonight. Although, honestly, John Doe is the better performer, in X and with the Knitters. Regardless, both her and John's voices always work well together, whether in punk or in classic country. Their version of Hank Williams' "Dough, re, me" was superb, and reminded me of the many duos who have recorded it.

John's a nice guy, I must say, as we chatted a bit before the aforementioned X show a couple of years ago. He seemed to enjoy hanging out with the fans, or at least the ones who wanted to have actual conversations and not just praise him.

We were right up front, but had to endure some annoying drunk people. For a while it was the anorexic woman who needed to take up as much space as possible with wild and chaotic dancing. But we didn't know how good we had it with her, because she was replaced by the overly enthusiastic drunk tall people towards the end of the night.

Now that I've been off both drinking and smoking for a while now, I have to say that drunk folks are far more annoying than smokers. I still wanted to smoke a couple of times during the evening, but the only times I thought about drinking was to acknowledge that if I'd been quaffing beer then I would have found the annoying drunk folks much less bothersome. Which isn't to say that I was craving a drink, just a simple observation of fact. However, when we got home, we both felt the need to change clothes and shower to get rid of the smoke smell. Bleh. But I never felt the profoundly strong need to punch any of the smokers tonight, but several drinkers needed the shit kicked out of them, for the benefit of humanity. Sincere and profound apologies to those who were around me drinking too much! Every time I go to shows I feel more and more sheepish.

I've been totally accumulating my lesbian cred lately in seeing Phranc, as last month we saw Le Tigre. Who totally bloody rocked! I'd kinda been hesitant about seeing them, as they digitise a lot of their show and I thought that it would be commodified. But it was stunningly good and energetic. One of the best shows I've seen in a long while.

It was weird seeing Kathleen Hanna, whom I'd last seen in Dayton playing with Bikini Kill very lo-tech, play with a band who was so very tech-y, but didn't let it interfere with their being punk as fsck. The previous week Mike had very generously paid for my ticket to see GBH, and they seemed tired and dated. Le Tigre seemed way more punk and extremely more politically aware and current.

Honestly, the Le Tigre show was probably the most political show I've ever been to, and the most politically effective. They had computer video showing along with their songs, nicely synched, and very effective at conveying both energy towards the live show and valuable information. None of the tech interfered with the energy of the show, as all vocals and guitar playing was live.

I must say that some of my enjoyment of Le Tigre, and my lack of enjoyment of seeing the Knitters and several other bands lately, was due to the fact that I was able to sit down during their show! We sat up in the balcony, and had a great view of the whole stage, great sound and not too loud, had the ventilation blowing near us, and weren't subjected to drunk obnoxious fans. I've been a fan of balcony views of shows since high school, when I ran lights for theatre and I got to like the above the stage view.

Since I've been going to shows, since I was 18, so almost twenty years now, I've most enjoyed shows where I could sit down and where I could watch the band play their instruments. I'm not a dancer, usually, especially if I'm sober, but a watcher, and that's what I enjoy doing at concerts. I really enjoy watching excellent musicians play excellent music, and I prefer sitting down to do so unless the music is just really incredibly moving. And even at excellent shows, there's a lot of wasted time when it's nice to have a seat.

But, really, having seats prevents the total drunk assholes from shoving in front of you and completely interfering with your enjoyment of the show. I'm very, very, tired of this.

The first few shows I ever saw were huge stadium affairs with assigned seating, and I still prefer that. And the shows I saw at medium venues which had seating instead of open floor were much more memorable. I can recall the songs I heard at such shows much more clearly that shows I saw which were standing.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Sam said...

We've had very different concert experiences. I've liked the standing room only shows better than the ones with assigned seating. Maybe that's because I don't like Journal Pavilion (too big, too many people) and prefer smaller venues. At Lollapalooza, I couldn't hear Chris Cornell's acoustic set during Audioslave because a bunch of drunks next to me were screaming at the top of their lungs (and were ready to pick a fight, so I didn't mess with them). The best concerts I've been to were A Perfect Circle and Idiot Pilot. At APC, I could get away from the people who smuggled in pot (and the music was incredible), and at IP there were only 35 of us, so we got right up front and danced! I guess I just love the intimate atmosphere of smaller venues (which in ABQ are all standing).

5:23 PM  
Blogger fatoudust said...

Actually, some of my most enjoyable concert experiences have been in small venues. I think I mis-wrote and implied that only big shows have seating! (I was tired and just wanted to finish the post and go to bed...)

You're right that assigned seating can blow bloody chunks if you're near some jerks. Now that I think about it, I've had that happen. More than once. Consider my opinion revised!

I adore clubs with seats and/or tables in the back, and a dance area up near the stage. In fact, that would be my preferred way to see shows, "Hey! I love this song! Let's go jump up and down at the stage!" or, "Whew, not so into this number. Let's go get a coke and sit down for a few."

12:42 AM  

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