January 2, 2009

Have Your Cake and Bite Me, Too

Goddamn drink specials. Goddamn drink specials and the drunken, sanctimonious lead singer from Cake. That's what I blame for my unforeseen dry cleaning bill on New Year's Eve.

So there we were, in the second-to-last row in the balcony at the Riverside Theater in Milwaukee, trying to enjoy the Cake concert on New Year's Eve.

Here's what prevented us:
  1. Goddamn acoustics. Never sit in the balcony at the Riverside. You can't hear mid-range tones to save your life. Seriously, if the lead singer of Cake had to inform us, mid-song, of a mandatory evacuation due to fire, we'd be toast. Unless he himself were on fire, in which case we probably would be able to connect the dots and proceed to the stairwells in an orderly fashion.
  2. Oh wait, scratch what I said about "orderly fashion." We were surrounded by goddamn pot-smokers. Seriously. If the lead singer of Cake were on fire, the people sitting behind us would probably rush the stage to use him as a lighter after their Zippos were confiscated by security. Except the thing of it was, their Zippos *weren't* confiscated by security. Security kept walking around asking, "Where's that marijuana smoke coming from?" to people who were holding joints behind their backs and trying not to answer, lest a plume of smoke give them away. All through the show. Counting opening and closing acts, we experienced about 4 hours' worth of contact high. And you know what? It wasn't even very good.
  3. Speaking of prolonged agony, you know how sometimes in the middle of a song, the band will transition to an instrumental segment and the singer will lead the audience in a few minutes of rhythmic clapping, or perhaps a capella singing of the catchy portion of a song? Well, those audience-interaction interludes happened a lot. And for way too long, each time. To the point where, after ten or twenty minutes of keeping the beat, I wondered if each audience member shouldn't be reimbursed for a portion of their ticket price, because we were *totally* carrying the band through what I can only guess were pockets of forgotten lyrics.
  4. On a related note, the concert suffered from extremely poor stage direction. Memo to lead singer of Cake: If you're going to do one of those left-side / right-side singing contests, you'd best work on your stage blocking and hand gestures. Just like I told the cop who pulled me over for blowing past an elementary school crossing guard in mid-intersection, I found the gestures ambiguous at best, and it was difficult to read his intent. Was I to stop? Was I to go? It was impossible to tell. (For the record, the crossing guard was not moving with purpose, and he had not raised his STOP sign. He certainly didn't have any children in tow. My persuasive argument won over the police officer, who let me go with a stern, if slightly puzzled, warning.)
  5. Speaking of bad timing, what's with the goddamn drink specials in the middle of a recession? You take a bunch of people who have spent the last of their already limited holiday cash on Cake concert tickets, and you offer them $6 souvenir beer mugs with unlimited $3 refills? On New Year's Eve? And you don't staff up with extra members of your cleaning crew? Just don't expect me ever to go into the bathroom at the Riverside again. Frankly, the only thing that that much cheap beer could possibly be good for is dousing the lead singer of Cake, if he were on fire. All I'm sayin'.
  6. I'm all for speaking one's mind, unless it's an incoherent rant with no discernible point. Case in point: The lead singer of Cake, who spent a good four minutes of a musical interlude asking the people of Milwaukee if we'd been injured. "We all know someone who's been injured. The person next to you...he may be injured. The person behind you...she may be injured. We've all been injured. Everwhere around us, people who have been injured." I kept expecting him to finish off the "Have you been injured" phrase with "in an automobile accident? Call 1-800-GET-PAID now and our attorneys will help you get the settlement you deserve!" Throughout the lengthy Injury Interlude, there was no context (have we been injured physically? emotionally? spiritually? cosmically?) and no conclusion, logical or otherwise. No call to action, no soothing balm of sympathy. Nothing. To borrow a phrase, I want a singer with a short speech and a long concert.
  7. I believe it was during the Injury Interlude that the goddamn girl behind me, who was too drunk by half (see #5), dropped her souvenir mug of beer onto my seat, coat, and scarf while the audience was on its feet. It was half an hour later that I sat back down, only to think that most unwelcome of thoughts: Why is my ass wet? Had I discovered the spill moments after it occurred (perhaps by means of an apologetic heads-up from the spiller), I could have shaken most of the beer off my coat (god bless the naturally water repellent alpaca fiber) and continued enjoying the show with a dry ass. But it was not meant to be. Thanks a lot, drunk girl. I can't completely hate her, though. I like to imagine she was attempting some form of social protest -- protesting the pointlessness of the Injury Interlude, but overestimating the range of her throwing arm. Or maybe, like me, she was envisioning the lead singer of Cake on fire, and wanted to do her part to help him out.

Happy New Year, indeed!

1 comment:

Cindy said...

Hey, I was wondering where that Wisconsin Vision post had gone to on your other blog... now I know the answer!
Even though your feelings of rage must be unfortunate for you, I have to say that they make good literary fodder. :) Sorry to hear you didn't have the best of New Years Eves...