Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Music Snobs

A bit of a mystery unfolded at The Black Crowes show Sunday night. Their long time keyboardist, Eddie, was conspiciously absent. Eddie's always been a fan favorite. He's much older than the rest of the band, tall and gangly with long, straight black hair. Looks like a member of the Addams Family. Eddie always gives a humble wave and smile when he takes the stage to his adoring fans. He's a real crowd pleaser. Sera loves standing by his part of the stage. Just so odd looking but fun to interact with.

Well, Eddie was not present Sunday. Rumors circulated that he got into an altercation with the Robinson Brothers on Friday night, possibly due to his using heroin, and they sent him on a plane home. There was no word from the band during the show about Eddie's absence. Nor was there a replacement. They attempted to fill in all keyboards with more guitar. It was fine for most of the night, but some songs don't really work without the keys.

But the show was definitely memorable. The band seemed to push harder in efforts to cover for their missing bandmate. They played two sets(first time I've seen them do that), for 3 hours. One of the highlights for me was guitarist Rich Robinson closing the first set by singing an old Pink Floyd tune, "Fearless." The girl next to me insisted it was Dylan, but I know my Floyd.

One thing that bugs me a bit though are the "hardcore" Black Crowes fans. These are the ones who fly all over the world to see their shows (like Deadheads, but much smaller numbers). They whine when the Crowes play their most popular songs. They come to hear the more obscure songs--ones not on any album and infrequently played. Sera calls them "snob" fans. And they are. We've seen the Black Crowes 7 times and love hearing their more popular tunes. That's what made them popular in the first place. It's fine to want to hear some obscure stuff, but give me a break--should the whole show be like that? Their message board on Monday had comments like, "the band was really into it. The crowd was really into it. But I couldn't get into that set list." Gimme a fucking break. The show was lively, energetic and fun.

I had the same problem with Deadheads. I saw them 23 times, not even close to the following of true Deadheads. But the hardcore fans would say that "Uncle John's Band" and "Sugar Magnolia" were cheesy although they were among the best of the Dead's songs. And then other fans would tell me, "you should have been here last night--they played Sugar Mag!"

We saw Paul McCartney back in Sept. I visited the message board on his website the next day and saw that several "true" fans bitterly complained that Paul once again played "Hey, Jude," "Live and Let Die," and some of his other classics. "Why does he always play that stuff?" they ranted. "He's got so many great songs." They listed a ton of obscure McCartney solo songs that I've never heard of. This is what they wanted to hear. Screw the average fan--just play songs for "me." "I'm you're number one fan--play those rarities because I know they exist. I've already heard your hits." Music snobs like that are selfish and annoying. Most people going to a Paul McCartney concert have not seen him 20 times. Paul is playing for the general mass, not the scattered groupies. He has to play with the idea that most people in the audience have never seen him before. He does not want to disappoint 19,900 fans in order to especially please 10. I would have been pretty pissed had he not played "Hey, Jude."

Sera and I saw the Moody Blues many years back in Atlantic City. We had to share a table with the most pretentious people I've ever dealt with. They argued for 30 minutes over who was a better songwriter--Ray Davies of The Kinks or Justin Hayward of the Moody Blues. The one woman was going to London the following week. "I think I'll use BritRail" she repeatedly told her friends. She mainly repeated it for my benefit. To show off that she was going to London. I was also going to London the following week but felt no cause to mention this. Nor did I mention that it was ridiculous to compare Ray Davies with Justin Hayward. The Kinks wrote sarcastic, intellectual and political music--where the lyrics take precedence over the music. The Moody Blues wrote haunting ballads involving orchestral symphonies--where the music sets the tone and emotion more so than the lyrics. I didn't say a word to these idiots. But towards the end of the show the man next to me began complaining. "I've seen the Moodies 22 times and they always end with 'Ride My See Saw'. Can't they play something different?" Well, my simian minded friend, the Moody Blues are not anticipating that everyone in the audience has seen them 22 times. I had also seen The Moody Blues before--they put on the same show every time. It's a great show, but it's the same show.

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