Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Is it real or is it Memorex?

I wasn't going to write anything tonight. But here I am, writing way too much.

It was the final concert of the September concert season last night - Smashing Pumpkins, with The Bravery as an opener. It was good - well, I enjoyed nostalgia moment of seeing the Pumpkins, very much, which is what I went for. I left happy. And tired. And with more questions in my head than answers.

Question #1: Exactly how tall IS Billy Corgan? Either his bandmates are all under 5'5" or Billy is a giant. I was pretty convinced of the latter. I spent a lot of the concert trying to figure out how much his body falls outside of the classical 7-head rule you learn in art school (or alternately, how much larger his head would have to be to make him look less...gigantic). I finally decided he is one-half head out. Height wise. I don't mean his head is one-half head too small...thank god. And I did have to look up his height - and it's only 6'3". Which makes me think his body is longer (or his head is tinier) than I have calculated, or he wouldn't seem so...gigantic. Whether or not these questions were plaguing me because I was sitting next to a truly delightfully Beavis & Butthead pair of young-un's who were smoking a never ending string of weed I am not sure...

Question #2: Uncle Fester or Zippy the Pinhead? Don't get me wrong, I loved the white knickers, striped hose, and short sleeved white shirt over striped long sleeved T. I loved the white boots. But something about the proportions made him seem like the love child of Fester and Zippy. Sorry. And honestly, I think Billy is extremely cool, despite these comments, and despite his tendency to hang out with Courtney Love. Once again, wondering if these thoughts are more a result of inhaling beside Beavis & Butthead than anything.

Question #3: Is it real, or is it fake? As mentioned, the Bravery opened the evening. I had heard one song they played before. As soon as I clapped eyes on the lead singer and his posed, stiff-armed guitar moves, it was over. It was like a big sign flashing "DON'T THANK ME, THANK MY IMAGE CONSULTANT, BABY" was flashing over his head. Every move of his admirably lanky and nattily attired frame screamed of a self conscious attempt to be a rockstar (cue crowd noise). And I am completely perplexed as to what the specific signals are that make that so painfully apparent. I've seen plenty of bands with singers that strike all sorts of weird poses and move around in any number of twitchy ways but for some reason it comes across as being real. It comes from the heart, and when it does it is a beautiful thing and makes me love them even more. Good lord, even the king of camp Freddie Mercury never left you questioning how genuine and true to himself his very stagey moves were, whether or not you liked him or his music. And it amazes me that it is so easy to tell the difference between what is honest and what is not. It doesn't help that the band follows a particular type of formulaic "I-want-to-be-Alt-'cause the shoes are cool" pop (did anyone say The Killers? Anyone?) that I really don't have patience for. But maybe it's just me. Ok, I know it's not just me, because when I leaned over to my brother and said "I want to slap the lead singer" he said "YESSS!" ...

Question #4: What band is this again? Can a band be the same band when half the band members are different? If you hire people that kinda sorta look like the old band members, does it make it more 'real' than if you hired something completely new and different? Tough questions. And a tough situation for any band interested in reforming. Trying to satisfy a nostalgic audience isn't always easy. Hang on - yes, it is. Case in point: Dave Wakeling, touring as the English Beat. Trust me, the band looked nothing like the original band. NOTHING. And in a way, that helped preserve the memory of what the original band was...but I have to admit, when I first saw them I had a hard time wrapping my head around it. So maybe it isn't that easy. I certainly didn't have a hard time believing I was watching The Smashing Pumpkins.

Question #5: Doesn't that make your neck hurt? Ahh, Beavis & Butthead, my stair-sitting friends. God bless your enthusiasm, and the amazing timing/choreography that seemed to go along with your flailing, twitching, headbanging moves. It was actually quite sweet to watch. And it was genuine. And that, really, is all I ask.

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