Wednesday, November 16, 2011

"The numbers all go to eleven"

Nigel Tufnel: The numbers all go to eleven. Look, right across the board, eleven, eleven, eleven and...

Marty DiBergi: Oh, I see. And most amps go up to ten?

Nigel Tufnel: Exactly.

Marty DiBergi: Does that mean it's louder? Is it any louder?

Nigel Tufnel: Well, it's one louder, isn't it? It's not ten. You see, most blokes, you know, will be playing at ten. You're on ten here, all the way up, all the way up, all the way up, you're on ten on your guitar. Where can you go from there? Where?

Marty DiBergi: I don't know.

Nigel Tufnel: Nowhere. Exactly. What we do is, if we need that extra push over the cliff, you know what we do?

Marty DiBergi: Put it up to eleven.

Nigel Tufnel: Eleven. Exactly. One louder.

Marty DiBergi: Why don't you just make ten louder and make ten be the top number and make that a little louder?

Nigel Tufnel: [pause] These go to eleven.*

I have always been a Nerd (that's with a capital "N," thanks). When other kids were going to rock concerts and smoking pot, I was at home baking bread and listening to NPR. So I can count on one hand the number of rock'n'roll events I've attended. Oh, I do like a lot of the music and listen to it happily on a home stereo, but there are many things I dislike about the live shows. Among them:

  • Expensive!
  • The audience more often than not has to stand up the entire time. It's like being herded to the slaughter house except they don't hit you over the head, they just take your money. It's presented as being more fun -- hey, guys, you can dance! and jump up and down! -- but in reality, after an hour your feet start to hurt.
  • There is usually a long, boring opening act by a band you have no interest in hearing.
  • They are TOO LOUD!!!
 My husband noticed that the rock great Ray Davies, of Kinks fame, was going to be doing a show in our neighborhood, at the brand-new venue The Fillmore. He excitedly bought tickets. Davies is now in his late 60s, still with a great, strong voice. I really enjoyed the album he did a year or so ago with a choir:

The Kinks Choral Collection

So I was somewhat looking forward to it, with my usual trepidation (see list above). As we were leaving the house last night to go to the show, I grabbed a pair of earplugs --*just in case*.

The drill when we got there: We waited in line outside for about a half  hour. They came along and checked IDs and gave us plastic wristbands color-coded to drinking age (from the looks of it, the vast majority had not been seriously carded in about 30 years -- IOW, we were among our age cohort). Then they let us in in batches. People at the door checked our bags (for weapons? I dunno) and scanned our tickets, after which we were admitted to the actual concert space and found out yep, no chairs. We decided to stand on the main floor rather than in the balcony. Then we waited some more. Then Davies's backup band came out and played for about 45 minutes. They were both boring and LOUD. I put in my earplugs. Somewhere around 9:00, Davies finally showed up. He sounded just as good as he did on his recordings, and he had a fabulous guitarist with him; when it was just the two of them on stage, the music was enjoyable. However, when the backup band came back out and they started rockin' out, it was TOO LOUD. The balance was awful.

For most of the people there, this was a trip down memory lane, and they were ready to sing along and were probably already deaf anyway (if they go to a lot of these things), so what it sounded like didn't matter. I was basically worrying about my ears the whole time. After my hearing loss episode two years ago, even though it didn't have anything to do with being exposed to loud noises, I've been sensitive to how fragile and valuable one's hearing really is.

So, for me, never again (if I can avoid it). Back to Nerd-dom.

 *From "This Is Spinal Tap" (in case you have been living in a cave all your life). We happen to have seen this last week, in a special showing in honor of 11/11/11. I have to say, it was much more enjoyable overall than this concert.

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