Monday, August 9, 2010

Risk v Reward

For the past couple of weeks I've been having a crisis of sorts. I have been eagerly awaiting the announcement of a US tour for the Gorillaz since the first of the year, salivating at the mere thought of seeing Damon Albarn and co in person (hopefully not behind a screen this time around). Google news updates having been coming to my inbox daily, plus I joined the fan club in hopes of securing presale tickets if the tour should come to fruition.

My dream came true just a couple of weeks ago when the tour was announced. Then the bad news quickly followed. Of all the venues that the Gorillaz could play, they will be playing at the $#&!!$#* George Mason Patriot Center.

A couple of years ago, I got tickets to go see The Cure (one of my most beloved bands of all time) at the Patriot Center. I got the tickets the minute they went on sale to the public. Apparently my fingers weren't fast enough cause our seats were s#!t. The worst part was not necessarily the seats but the quality of the sound. The Patriot Center is essentially a large basketball court. This meant that the sound was so terrible that I could actually hear the sound bounce off the back of the venue and out back towards the crowd again. This was particularly crappy from where I was seated. However, a couple of friends were seated on the floor much nearer to the stage and they said that the sound wasn't too bad at all from that area. However, my experience was so disenchanting that I said I wouldn't go back to the Patriot Center again.

Oh dear, what to do?! There are really but two options, skip out on the concert, save the money and pop in a video at home OR try to get decent seats and hope for the best.

I'm an idealist, I suppose. I called my husband and asked his opinion, then went ahead and bit the bullet. This should be better than last time simply because the seats should be much better. I took advantage of my presale access and was able to secure seats on the floor, just left of stage in the fifth row. Not necessarily ideal (first row center, hahahaha!), but certainly an improvement over those Cure seats. I can just cross my fingers and hope that the sound will be decent and the view will be worth the long drive to Fairfax. The way I figure it, this could be my only chance to see Damon Albarn, not to mention the Clash's Mick Jones and Paul Simonon. Plus, I've been a little bit in love with Jamie Hewlett since the Tank Girl days of my youth.

So between my choices of no Gorillaz or the Gorillaz on a basketball court, I suppose it's game time. I confess that I would rather that they perform pretty much anywhere else, but I'll take my Damon Albarn any way I can get him. He's no Jack White and I won't be having the same transcendent experience that I did on July 13 at the Dead Weather show, but I think it will be fun all the same. Hit me up if any of my peeps and homies are thinking of heading to Fairfax on October 11!


Anonymous said...

I do think they're worth seeing live, inferior arena or not and this particular venue might work-out better for "Gorillaz" than "The Cure", since "Gorillaz" have an eclectic enough mix of musical groupings within the larger whole, that the acoustics might not throw things off too much---even if they're less than perfect. The strings might be strong enough to overcome deficiencies and a little atonality might actually compliment the programming (this is not a joke--their pieces are "experimental" enough to work with strange acoustic reverberations). You'll certainly know your final opinion of the arena-as-music-venue after October, though.

...and with all due respect to virtuoso Jack White, Albarn is a very talented musician in his own right and as creative composer, probably amongst a handful of the best in the world. "Gorillaz" and Albarn will have their place in future Music History classes, mark my words. Unfortunately, Albarn's astonishing, "Apollo"-like good looks have long worked against him in establishing artistic credibility (although, I'm personally able to completely forget that face while submerged in his music, which is no small feat). But it's not his fault. It's just the result of a genetic condition.

Good luck with the venue!

Anonymous said...

"Albarn is a very talented musician in his own right and as creative composer, probably amongst a handful of the best in the world"

LOL! Yeah, what do those crazy classical composers with their incredibly complex series of notes know when compared to a lame ass pop musician who collaborates with Snoop Dogg and has Bruce Willis in his music video!

Anonymous said...

Clearly, 2nd "Anonymous" (what are the chances we'd both have the same name?!!!) you haven't been paying close enough attention: The people who make music history are the ones that make the changes and take the chances. And yes, I do think Albarn could be compared, in many ways, to earlier composers, like The Vienna Boys, Berlioz or Stravinsky---we just live in a different musical climate, now; although, Albarn is actually re-introducing what has long been relegated to the "Classical Music" discount bins (which is sad enough a situation, anyway), back into the popular stratosphere. He's integrating string ensembles, unsusual instrumental arrangements and choral work into hip-hop and popular genere. What he's doing now with "Gorillaz" is the next transition from an era of the "Pet Sounds"/ "Wrecking Crew" days of The Beach Boys, when musicians were first experimenting with mixing and layered recordings.

Just because someone has established themself in one genre of music, doesn't mean they don't possess some unique perspective and talent that will make them stand-out when an entire music era is evaluated in the future. I think Albarn will stand-out and I even think the guys in his other band, "Blur" are all uniquely intelligent musicians who will be remembered for contributing something different to music. Don't discount him, just because he's utilizing the tools and media of his time.

Anonymous said...

Okay, if people are viewing 'charmless man' the same way they Beethoven's Fifth in two hundred years from me, I'll buy you a beer..

I've never heard anything so ridiculous in my life. You're obviously a thoughtful person, reread what you have written and feel shame.

Anonymous said...

...I get the mock, but I didn't say go for "Quid pro quo", I meant look at this from a different point of view--something other than drumming in what we've been trained to accept as the only way of defining what kind of musical work is deserving of respect or even reverence. It's reminiscent of how The Art World viewed the work of Impressionist painters after centuries of Realism had been celebrated at center stage. They thought Impressionism was "hot mess" exemplified, even though in hindsight, we can see what a significant role the movement played in changing how people allowed themselves to make and enjoy art. Some of Albarn's work is really very impressive and he shouldn't be written-off, just because some of his earliest stuff was totally in the realm of pop music. Beethoven's stuff was "popular music" for his time, too. So was Mozart's. They each had their strengths and weaknesses as artists and composers and Beethoven is generally viewed as a total musical genius, but they both offered something fresh and provocative to the music world during their lifetimes. They stood out, they were unusual amongst their peers and they changed how music was done. I think Albarn will eventually be seen as a transitional and important musician for our era. And I don't really say that about any others; there are plenty of good musicians, but none creating anything as provocative and fresh as what he's producing. Anything that does stand-out is often just an ironic look at older stuff. He's injecting the music world with a new sense of challenge and creativity.

And both "Charmless Man" and "Beethovan's 5th" give me pleasure in equal measure. They're not the same creatures, but both are boppity in their respective ways.

Anonymous said...

I see your point, I didn't mean to be as loose and free with my abuse. Apologies. But the fact remains, Albarns music (while enjoyable and original within the context of the pop music canon) has neither the breadth or complexity that one of Beethovens symphonies has. What renders your arguement redundant is the fact that Albarn works within a pretty juvenile and restrictive mode, and while he may 'push boundries' within those confines, it still pales when compares to the overall depth and genius of the great composers. While your arguement regarding Art has merit, I find that sort of reverse anti intellectualism equally as destructive and quite prevelant in this age of dumbing down. Just my two cents anyway :)

Anonymous said...

But I'm predicting The Future, here! Why is no one LISTENING TO ME?!!

I do think some of his recent stuff is more challenging. Some pieces virtually hidden in his overall work--like film scores and experimental love songs--are just beautiful. Others are far more complicated than a "Pop" label gives credit for. I guess what sits best with me is how unusual, yet, appealing, his stuff sounds. It's just...different. Interesting. Like how Stravinsky caused a stir with his "Primitivism" stuff and changed musical composition and performance, despite many conservative listeners initially thinking it sounded akin to children clanging pots and pans together. I guess only time and future releases will tell the extent of his talent and abilities, but I already see the work he's done securing him a place as a transformative artist for this era.

My tin-foil hat is now tuned to 200years in the future, but it will take a little while for the picture to come in. Then I'll be able to see who's buying. Until then, I guess this is the part where we just "agree to disagree" ;).