Sunday, December 9, 2018

I Missed Out

Two or three months ago, Denise asked me if I wanted to go to the Alt 92.3FM Not So Silent Night show at the Barclay Center in Brooklyn. Apparently, the old K-Rock frequency, having gone down the tubes since their heyday when Howard Stern ruled the airwaves, is now an alternative rock station. The show was scheduled for Thursday, December 7, and the lineup was scheduled to be (in alphabetical order) AJR, Bastille, Chvrches, Death Cab for Cutie, Florence + The Machine, Foster the People, Muse and Mike Shinoda.

I'd really have liked to see this lineup. But at the time she was getting the tickets, I was responsible for driving my son back and forth to his Thursday night classes in Islip. (My daughter takes night classes as well, but she can drive herself. My son is working on it, but doesn't have a license yet.) So being the responsible parent I am, I sucked it up and said no. Denise still wanted to go, so she bought a ticket for herself and her friend Tim.

By the time we got closer to the event, my son had stopped taking his Thursday night class, so I actually could have gone. There were still some tickets available, so I seriously considered buying one late. I would have had to sit on my own, but that's no biggie to me -- I go to concerts on my own all the time. And at least we could have traveled back and forth together.

About a week before the show, I asked Denise how she planned to travel, car or Long Island Railroad. She still hadn't decided. So at that point, I made the decision to stay home. I did it for a few reasons, including the notion that it's best, when possible, if one of us is at home these days (as bad things sometimes happens when we're not), and also because I was pretty sure the bands I wanted to see the most were only going to get two or three songs apiece. But the main reason was really that the show was at the Barclay Center. Driving there really isn't too practical, as there's little-to-no parking in the area. (Denise has managed it -- when she and her sister went to see Queen there last year, they drove, and parked in Oshkosh somewhere.) But it's a pain. And taking the LIRR is a bit torturous -- it's a long night, riding from Ronkonkoma to Brooklyn and back.

As it turns out, it was for the best I was home. There were some logistical problems that came up, so it was good that I was able to help get my daughter get from where she works in Nassau back home, so she could drive to her night class. And the concert was almost backwards, for my taste. The two bands I wanted to see the most, Chvrches and Foster the People, were on towards the beginning of the night. And the two headliners were Muse and Florence.

Now I have mixed feelings about Muse. I have several of their albums, and Denise and I saw them live the summer before last at Jones Beach. They put on a great live show, for sure -- lots of video effects and pyrotechnics. But I find them kind of -- well, silly, at times. Matt Bellamy has a powerful voice, but it sounds like he's not always taking the music seriously -- he's always playing around and singing falsetto, and he's very melodramatic and over the top, like a singing version of William Shatner. A lot of people who loved Queen like Muse, but I always felt the same way about Queen -- I liked some of their stuff, but they were just too goofy to be one of my top bands. ("Flash! -- Oh Oh! -- Savior of the Universe!") My sister-in-law would kill me for saying that, as they're her favorite band ever, but it's how I really feel. Anyway, I'm sort of a fan of Muse, but a very casual one. (Also, I've got their new album in my car right now, and while this might change, right now it's just not doing anything for me.)

As for Florence, while she has a kickass voice, it's maybe just a little harsh for my taste -- more powerful than it is beautiful. Florence + The Machine is another band I'm a very casual fan of. There are usually maybe two songs on every album that I really like, and the rest I'd happily throw away. And on their latest album, there aren't even those two songs -- it's their worst album yet. Florence has a voice that's best suited for basic R&B rock, which isn't close to my favorite style. To me, she's Annie Lennox in desperate need of a Dave Stewart.

SO in terms of my wishlist bands, Chvrches and Foster the People are the two bands I wanted to see most, followed by Bastille and Death Cab. The first three are bucket list bands for me -- bands I've never seen live, but would like to before I die -- and Death Cab is close. As for Muse, I've already seen them, so I don't need to see them again (although I wouldn't mind it.) And I don't care if I ever see Florence, although I'd be fine with seeing her if she was playing with another act I really wanted to see. Mike Shinoda and AJR are right out. (In fairness, I saw Shinoda with Linkin Park at Jones Beach a few years back with my son and his friend. But of course, that was when Chester Bennington was alive.)

In any event, Denise reported back to me after (and a little during) the concert. She had a great time. Her favorite band of the night was Muse (she likes them much better than I do). She's not really a huge fan of Florence + The Machine either, but she said she liked them more than she expected to. She was very impressed with the power of Florence's voice. She enjoyed Chvrches, and liked Lauren Mayberry's voice as well, but she said that because they were the opening band and the arena hadn't filled out yet, the sound wasn't that great for them. It was very echoey, with all of the empty seats. (The show ran from 7PM until midnight.)

She was thrilled to see Bastille. (I like them a lot, but didn't like their second album anywhere near as much as their first one. Denise liked the second album a lot more than I did). She enjoyed them a lot (although I note that they didn't perform "Things We Lost in the Fire", which is my favorite song of theirs.) She also liked Foster the People, who seemed to perform their main hits ("Pumped Up Kicks", "Lotus Eater" and "Sit Next to Me".) She was thrilled that Death Cab for Cutie played the two songs she most wanted to hear from them ("Soul Meets Body" and "Cath"), and she enjoyed them a lot, although she said that some people were complaining they were too low key. (But to me, they're that kind of band -- more quiet desperation than loud, raucous rock.) As for AJR and Mike Shinoda, she didn't have much interest (although she did send my son a short video clip of Shinoda, as he's a big Linkin Park fan.)

All in all, I'm sorry to have missed the show. If it had been in the Nassau Coliseum instead of the Barclay Center, I'd have definitely gone. I hope that at some point, I get to at least see Foster the People and Chvrches. (I also hope that someday Florence finds her Dave Stewart.) But we'll see.