Updated: Apr 15
A few years ago, Donald Fagan of Steely Dan was referred to saying he doesn't like playing live because rock concerts are "corny."
I get it.
I’m into music as much as anyone but concerts have always been a challenge. They all seem the same and pretty silly when you step back, look and listen.
It’s corny as soon as you arrive at the venue. Inevitably, someone is promoting something to save the earth. Whether it’s sustainable energy, finding safe homes for pigeons, or saving the rainforest, someone is spreading the word, and often a lot of paper.
Now it’s time for the show. Well, you thought so. The band is always fashionably late for the 9 pm curtain call. Naturally, the longer you wait, the more you speculate.
“They must be slugging booze and smoking pot,” you think.
“I heard David Crosby fell off the wagon,” your friend suggests. Then you imagine Stephen Stills and Graham Nash propping Crosby up in his dressing room and forcing him to drink coffee. He’s having none of it.
“I just need another fix, and I’m good,” Crosby pleads. They agree to let him snort a bunch of coke, which should do the trick.
The opening act finishes their set. Although the tightly-packed, over-intoxicated audience is glad the act is finished, they must wait for the headliners.
Finally, the rock stars - the most influential beings in your life because they laid down a couple good tracks - make their appearance, announced by an artificially enthused DJ. They look like they spent two hours trying on clothes, makeup, and primping their hair just to look like they don’t give a shit.
The music begins. You recognize the song, but it doesn’t sound like the record. That’s okay. It’s live, right? They're supposed to suck.
Your favorite act plods through the set with predictable high-energy hits and a quiet ballad sung by the bass player - his contribution to the 25-year catalog.
The lead singer goes Kool Aid Man into the next song and urges the crowd to join in, hold their hands above their heads, and sing the next line.
“I can’t hear you!” he shouts to 40,000 fans, who can't hear him either.
They launch into their biggest hit and play it for 20 minutes because they don’t have many others. The lead guitarist contorts his face while playing solos and looks like he’s passing a kidney stone. He's not on tonight but you can’t hear it anyway, so who cares.
They finish the last song and gather as a group, arm-in-arm at center stage even though they can’t stand each other. They walk off, the lights go down, and guess what?
They might do an encore! No way! Do you think so? No band ever does that.
Sure enough, ten minutes later, the drummer jumps back behind the kit, followed by the bass player and keyboardist. Then it’s the lead guitarist again, fresh out of the bathroom, wiping his nose. No way... Here comes the lead singer!
They launch into their other big hit you thought they weren’t going to play, and everyone goes crazy. You and your friends are so high you've forgotten each other's names.
Finally, it’s over. The house lights go up, and you think to myself, “I just paid $300 bucks for that, and now I have to drive us all home?"
You look around and wonder how these other fans - who look 100 times worse than you - are going to get home.
You continue to rationalize spending all the time, money, and aggravation as you make your way outside. You see the band’s limo cruise by as fans beg for eye contact.
Then you look out at the 5,000 cars that have to exit the parking lot before you.
I love rock and roll!