Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thankfully The Girls Upstairs Don't Have A Balloon

Worlds did indeed collide and a reunion of sorts took place this past weekend as I met up with South Dakota's own, Jade Van Kley; best known for her sporadic but memorable guest appearances on WVYC's "Fanfare for the Common Man" and "Where Did You Get That Corn?" Jade was blowing through my relative area as she toured with her good friends of Paradise Fears, who are opening for a little group called All Time Low on their "Rise and Fall of my Pants Tour." Paradise Fears, who over the past two years or so I've had the pleasure of casually getting to know and spending some time with, were kind enough to have me along for the gig and I can't thank them enough for their generosity.
The majority of this post will refer to the concert itself, but just to get the journal-esque portion of the post out of the way: It was great to see Jade again and catch up for a while. We caught a long lunch at this place called "Hot Bunz" (Naturally, it seemed appropriate.) and with the exception of her spacing a bit on the pronunciation of Myk Sno's name and her insisting on using this terrible New York accent in public with strangers, we fell right back into the old ebb and flow of our friendship, including her blaming me for the slow loading speed of her phone that afternoon. She was back alright. The only thing missing was an appearance from her bunny, The Cylinder. Even if she was good at the New York accent (which she wasn't) she couldn't get through saying anything worth tawking about with a straight face. It was unreal, I'd have had a ball with it on the radio.
From about 4:30 to 6:15 I was on my own while Jade and the crew prepped for the show. I took the time to hit up a couple bars and flex my Dale Carnegie skills to make some new friends. The first bartender I spoke to seemed eager to talk, but only about how she couldn't eat too much before Halloween in order to ensure her ability to fit in her Playboy bunny costume. As you can imagine, that conversation wound up getting stale pretty quickly. I went to a different bar and had better luck.
Eventually it was time to head into the venue. It felt pretty cool to walk by security with a VIP pass, but once I got to the actual performance area that's pretty much when the too-cool-for-school vibe kind of died down. The overwhelming majority of those in attendance were girls from 14-16 years old. I'm still a little too young to pass the time in the quiet corner with the few parents who came to see the show, so before the show started at least, I was kind of in no man's land, or more importantly, no people my age land. It wasn't too bad, though. I did exchange some very simple pleasantries with the people next to me and I had some time to check out the venue, which was small, simple, but pretty cool. Kind of like the Lizard Lounge of Lancaster for anyone who's been there, but a little more of a rec center with a bar feel. The place is called the Paramount and they're doing a good job booking some solid groups to play there. Apparently, Warren Haynes was there a couple of weeks ago. I don't how I missed that but I was pretty inconsolable for a good five minutes or so upon hearing the news.
Speaking of booking good groups, here's a sign of the times and the audience in attendance. The venue had these giant screens where future acts were advertised. When All Time Low flashed on the screen, the crowd went wild. When Taking Back Sunday flashed on the screen, the crowd went wild. When the Pixies and Bonham's son's Led Zeppelin Experience popped up on the screen, absolute crickets.
I'm not knocking the bands they did cheer for at all, just because I'm not the biggest fan of the music doesn't mean they should be any less respected for being out on the road and giving people the shows they want to see, but the day when Zeppelin and the Pixies get no pop from a concert audience that is clearly in the habit of cheering for what they like is a sad day for Long Island, America, and the world. I admit it's not like it's the real Zeppelin, but it's their music endorsed by the original band being performed by one of the original's own son with a bunch of other really talented musicians. The homage to the music itself is worth "wooing" about, even if it's not the real thing.
I also admit that I didn't get into the Pixies until my sophomore year of college beyond "Where Is My Mind?", but the sound of the Pixies is like that of a direct predecessor to this kind of alternative music that the crowd was there to see. I'm a little shocked that the Pixies aren't as big as the Beatles to enthusiasts of the All Time Low kind of genre, whatever you want to call it. As Mike Ditka would say, "C'mon man!"
Paradise Fears opened the show and did so with amazing gusto. The entire just grabbed you by the metaphorical (thank God) testicles and didn't let go until they were through with you. They were all over the place in the best way possible and supplied quite the adrenaline fueled groove to start the night off right. The 15 year old chicks we thrilled, along with some of their more maternal counterparts. It was a great show I enjoyed quite a bit.
Unfortunately after that the show kind of deflated for me, but there were a couple of songs here and there by the three other groups that performed that I got into, but for the most part that particular section of the alternative genre is just not my scene. I will say that all of the groups were immensely talented and it was an incredibly positive experience. I will say that the bands do keep the energy way up and that can be really infectious in a live setting. I respect the heck out of that from any group.
All Time Low was the headlining band at the show. Naturally, with a name like that I had to temper my expectations for the quality of the show as a whole. Everything I said above applies: high energy, not my thing, much respect etc. At one point they brought two service men on stage to get a nice pop from the crowd, definitely a classy move on their part. I loved it and got as loud as I'd been for Paradise Fears for the first time since their performance early in the evening. With that said, I did have one issue with the show.
I first want to clarify that I feel like the idea that these people, musicians, actors, and celebrities as a whole have an obligation to our youth to be role models is ridiculous. A person, regardless of their fame and stature has to answer to no one but themselves and/or God, depending on what they believe. Ideally, they would have enough respect for themselves and those around them to behave decently, but if they don't it's sure as hell not society's place to reprimand them. We're the ones who put them on a pedestal. If you don't like the actions of you're role model, find a new one, or believe in yourself. The fact that society looks to celebrities to set examples for our youth before themselves is wild. I realize that today behavior is arguably shaped by media as much as, if not more so, than parenting, but nonetheless, it's not a celebrity's job to keep our nation's youth on the straight and narrow, much like it's not the job of a teacher to pick up where parenting is absent and/or failed, but that's a separate story altogether.
I bring this up because All Time Low hops on stage and says various incarnations of "what's up motherfuckers?" and "where's the beer after the show?" and cursing this, shit, fuck, etc. These are not necessarily things I would say to any crowd, much less one filled with such youth as I mentioned before, but I'm genuinely 100 percent cool with it. Like I said, you need to be who you are as artists and whatnot, but then it gets weird. The stage is filled with bras that girls keep throwing on stage, and the group keeps referring to there being a lot of great boobs and sexy girls (and so on, I'll spare you) in the audience. I don't want to make what they said sound too gratuitous. I mean, it's not like they were scumbags or anything, but still, to be in a room filled with essentially children, 90 percent of which had to be up for high school and I'm sure middle school the next morning and make such open references about their sexuality and how it appealed to these 21+ year old men was just plain creepy. Again, it's not like they were sending open invitations back to the tour bus or anything. I don't want to make this into too big of a deal, but the confusion that a few moments in this show caused in me was undeniably a little sickening. They seem like decent enough guys and everyone I had the pleasure of meeting was really genuine and cool to be around, but that one bit was just plain weird and negative to me.
Don't let that last bit of debate fool you, I had a great time at that show and was, once again, thrilled to be a guest of future music changers, Paradise Fears. After the show, I bought Jade a beer following her turning 21 at midnight. She promptly spilled that beer all over the place before even catching a buzz to blame it on. Jordan of PF (I like how I waited until the last paragraph to take the time to shorten that.) came by as well and as soon as I saw Jade was well on here way to having a 21st birthday to both remember and forget. I hit the trail and headed home following an embrace and a warm thanks to her and the band.
Halloween in the city is on the near horizon. Look for a blog cataloging the experience.
Song of the Day: St. Stephen-Grateful Dead
Jazz Song of the Day: The Eraser-Christian Scott

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