Off Topic

Off Topic is a post that relates to our adventures, but isn’t necessarily an adventure itself, as you will see.  My first Off Topic post is about band/audience interaction and reactions.  Or lack thereof.

Janis Joplin
Janis Joplin

The audience sitting down is a weird trip. It’s like seperatnous (sic), but when they’re dancing, they’re doing it with you, like you said it and they’ve got it and you can play freer and freer. – Janis Joplin

Emphasis added.

The importance of audience reaction was aptly demonstrated at Jackson Brown’s 2016 performance at Les Schwab Amphitheater in Bend.  There was reserved seating down front that was fenced off.  We were right behind the fence where it meets the sound tower.

Most of the audience just sat during the first part of the performance.  It wasn’t until at least half way through the set list, that they played something (I don’t remember which) that triggered people and within a couple of minutes, EVERYBODY was standing and dancing.  This was AFTER the band had deliberately tried to get people up.  Several times.  They wanted feedback!

The mood on stage took a dramatic turn when people started reacting to the music and, to those who pay attention to concerts, it was palpable.  The band, getting frustrated with the audience just sitting around, came back to life.  It was incredible to see and hear.

It is, and always will be, our habit of standing and dancing during rock and roll concerts.  If you just want to sit around and listen while some artist on stage is looking for and even ASKING for your feedback, then stay home, kick back with a beer and turn the stereo on REAL LOUD.  You won’t miss the interaction of a concert.  Please, don’t give us a hard time for dancing from start to finish.  The artist deserves feedback; give it to them.

I turned 77 this year, Peggy, uh…, over uh…, is a seasoned rocker as well.  I hit my teen years when Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Elvis shook up the music world and made my world change from the big band and classical my parents and grandparents liked, to a rock and roller.

Pink Floyd 1994 Division Bell Tour
Pink Floyd 1994 Division Bell Tour

Having spent six years in radio and music director at every station I worked, I got to hear (my record – vinyl – collection swelled to over 1,500) and see many acts over the years, including Elton John, the original KISS, the Rolling Stones’ incredible concert in Dallas in 1975, with the Eagles, Montrose, and Trapeze rounding out the concert line up.  We also had the pleasure of seeing the Pink Floyd Division Bell tour at the Hockenhiem Ring in Germany.

More recently, we’ve started exploring “Alternative Rock” like Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Alabama Shakes, Beck, Modest Mouse, and Spoon.  We went to Sasquatch twice, including the final one in 2018; Telluride, where Beck put on a fantastic show; Tedeschi Trucks Band where three bands created five different bands; Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals; and and many others.  I’m rebuilding the old Concerts section and will post items when I can.

I am someone who observes. I love to people watch.  I especially like to watch bands and how their music motivates or doesn’t motivate audiences.  Bands are in music for recognition, to have their music heard.  Concert attendees are there for a variety reasons, but the basic reason is they like the artists’ music.  Some concert goers can’t physically stand and dance and there are reserved areas for those folks, but if you don’t have any health problems, why are you sitting on your butts for half or more of a concert?  The artist would prefer you provide some feed back other than sitting in your chair.

I also observe the mechanics of concerts, stage hands, equipment and placement, sound systems, lighting, etc.  I criticize big blunders, like the 25 minute loss of all sound at the 2017 Tom Petty concert in Seattle or the horrendous background screen at Teluride.  I also applaud great performances of any musician or concert or venue.  I agree with Ben Harper that The Gorge is the perhaps the most beautiful of venues.  The performances and professionalism of Tedeschi Trucks, Hot Tuna, and the Wood Brothers at Sandia Resort in Albuquerque, NM was the greatest impromptu event ever staged – developed in one hour time.  And Pink Floyd in Germany where 120,000 Germans knew and sang every word to the set list.

The Pink Floyd bands of the world and those without corporate sponsorship, spend enormous amounts of time and money to bring their music to the world.  The least we can do is stand up to applaud.


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