Sometimes I hate hearing about the good ol’ days from my dad. ‘You could see the Grateful Dead for under $20, make it through a show without some guy in a fake “security’ T-shirt mowing you over while pushing his way to the front and the beer was incredibly cheap!” ‘You mean you could buy a beer for less than nine bucks, dad?” ‘Of course, Leah! And did I mention Ticketmaster was no where near as dominating as they are now? And Miley Cyrus didn’t even exist!” Oh, how the times have changed. And yes Bob, the old road is rapidly agin’.
From soaring ticket prices to being nearly strip-searched before entering a venue, sometimes just getting to a concert can feel like a chore. I think it really hit me when I saw Bruce Springsteen play at the Blue Cross Arena last spring. The couple in front of me was munching on popcorn, the 40-plus crowd was downing coffee and some drunk a few rows to my right was screaming ‘tenth avenue freeze-out, man!” at a stage that was completely empty except for a few roadies assembling the band’s equipment. Yes, drunks did exist 40 years ago, but were they really that annoying? And coffee at a Springsteen concert? If The Boss can’t keep you awake, you have more issues than a therapist could solve.
I kept telling myself I wasn’t embarrassed and that surely Bruce would still think Rochester was a pretty awesome city, despite our psychotic need for caffeine and love for munching on popcorn while playing air-guitar. No, we aren’t quite as sophisticated as crowds you might find at Madison Square Garden that don $100 skinny jeans and Chanel leather boots in a creamy lavender color for rock concerts, but we still have some soul.
However, the people I despise most at concerts are the ones who decide to stand up at shows even when they know that everyone in the ten rows behind them is sitting down. This tends to happen at Bob Dylan shows for some reason. With its lethargic acoustic guitar and achy harmonica, ‘Visions of Johanna” isn’t usually a song that many choose to rock out to, but there are always those few who decide they need to or else their Bob experience just won’t be complete. To those people, stop. No one likes you. Sit your tie-dyed ass down and wait for ‘All Along the Watchtower,” or just start going to Jonas Brothers concerts.
Given that I could barely understand what Bob was singing through his ‘born in Minnesota, smoking for five billion years” nasal voice, it didn’t help that I couldn’t even see him. Bob is pretty short, and even though he sometimes wears sweet cowboy boots while on stage, he’s decided to play hunched over a keyboard in recent years, and this makes it really hard for us petite girls to see who some consider to be the world’s best songwriter of all time. You tall people have taken modeling, basketball and regular length jeans away from us, don’t take Bob away as well.
The highlight of my summer was a free ticket I swear it was free to Kid Rock’s Rock n’ Roll Revival tour. I reluctantly went, even though my boyfriend and I spent most of the walk inside the venue trying to hide behind each other. We were able to find a spot far up on the general admission hill where we could escape both the smell of Keystone cans as they piled up in a fort-like shape and the sight of greasy platinum blonde hair that blinded us from even 20 feet away.
Nevertheless, we left after seven or eight songs, knowing that we had fought the good fight. Despite such heart-warming lyrics as ‘I’m a head out west where real women come equipped with scripts and fake breasts” and ‘I used to smoke pinners while my mom made dinner,” we decided to give up early and head out.
These are just the experiences I’ve had where I was even able to get a ticket to a show. We have all heard the heart-wrenching stories of the thousands of tear-stained little girls who were locked out of seeing Miley Cyrus because her shows sold out in an average of two minutes on Ticketmaster. It’s sad to think that we live in a world where if Mom logs onto the Web site at 10:03 a.m., she comes up empty-handed, even though tickets went on sale just three minutes earlier.
Maybe I’m being too negative. It’s true that I’ve had some great experiences at concerts hearing Bruce and the E-Street band launch into a near-10-minute version of ‘Rosalita” only because of a fan’s ‘Rosalita, please!” homemade sign was pretty cool. Seeing free concerts at High Falls in the summer is always a good time and, after the Woodstock 1999 debacle, it seems as though multiple-day music love fests like Bonnaroo are finally getting it right, aside from letting Kanye West and his ridiculous light shows on stage. But concerts just aren’t the same as they used to be.
I guess the moral of the story is that sometimes it’s better to just skip out on a show and, instead, buy a six-pack, sit out on your back porch with some friends and download some free music so you can afford to order a pizza. Just make sure you’re wearing sneakers so you get good traction when the RIAA shows up and you have to run from them.
Kraus is a member of the class of 2009.